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Dampener/damper?

Posted by Lotg on April 26, 2004

Over time some sayings go astray. ie. Sometimes actual words change, and thus, sometimes even their meaning can change.

One example that was discussed in an earlier thread - was "One fell swoop" vs "one foul swoop". I'm not opening that one up again, but another one that occurred to me today was - "he put a dampener on things". That's how I said it, but I was corrected and told it should have been "he put a damper on things".

So can anyone clarify for me which is correct. I struggle with the latter, considering that to me a damper is bread baked by our settlers, so I can't imagine why you'd put a damper on things.

But having said that, even if I'm right and it should be "dampener", precisely what does that mean anyway? How would this saying have evolved? Is it something to do with dampening out fires??? Or is it really 'damper'? Any thoughts?