Posted by R. Berg on February 24, 2004
In Reply to: 'the last word' posted by Ward Fredericks on February 24, 2004
: Having the last word in the US suggests that the speaker has completed the discussion with a comment of such exceptional merit that no further dialog is necessary.
: Reviewing the PF threads is interesting and illuminating. Many threads go on and on, with more perspectives, and some humor, and then sort of run out of steam. Some questions are answered quickly by one of our experts so conclusively that no more discussion is needed. It is a fascinating sociological project for some scholar -- to take the longest threads here and do an analysis of what provides the energy to keep a long thread going -- and what is the thing about the last comment that brings it to an end.
: Leave it to a scientist to think about stuff like this!
"Having the last word in the US suggests that the speaker has completed the discussion with a comment of such exceptional merit that no further dialog is necessary."
The phrase has another meaning in US use, too. Someone who "always has to have the last word" is argumentative, perhaps hostile. Often, such a person's comment has no merit; it's merely a parting shot.