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Re: Damper

Posted by R. Berg on April 26, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Damper posted by ESC 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?

: A damper is a device used on a wood or coal-burning stove to control the oxygen flow to the fire.

: Merriam-Webster online:

: Main Entry: damp·er
: Pronunciation: 'dam-p&r
: Function: noun
: 1 : a dulling or deadening influence. Put a damper on the celebration.
: 2 : a device that damps : as a : a valve or plate (as in the flue of a furnace) for regulating the draft b : a small felted block to stop the vibration of a piano string c chiefly British : SHOCK ABSORBER

Some fireplaces have dampers, too.