Posted by R. Berg on November 27, 2004
In Reply to: Hyphen? posted by Smokey Stover on November 27, 2004
: : : : : : Princess Di had some on camera interviews where she reported her suspicion that an ex-lover had been 'bumped off'. That term sounds unusual. Is it used widely in the UK?
: : : : : I don't remember it being used much. I can't remember the exact phrases used(no one I know has ever been bumped or done any bumping). I suspect it is something understated though, along the lines of saying "He's leaving to spend more time with his family", which is code for "he's been forced out" or if the person leaving is saying it, "I disagree with everything going on and I'm leaving before it all goes horribly wrong."
: : : : Yes, 'bumped off' is widely used in the UK. It means killed.
: : : I wonder whether 'bumped off' is a contrast with 'shuffled off this mortal coil'. bumped, like nudged, suggests something being given a bit of help.
: : If I was using "bumped-off" to describe murder, I'd give it a hyphen; however, if I was describing being denied boarding to a plane, I'd say "bumped off"--without hyphen. I know I tend to use hyphens alot (I would have written "on-camera", not on camera, in the first thread). I like hyphens. Having googled "bumped off" it appears that nobody hyphenates "bumped off". Why?
: The hyphen is appropriate here only if the phrase is used as an adjective. "After the deed was done, the bumped-off guy was given cement boots and dumped in the river." You might give an interview on camera, and then it would be an on-camera interview. Thus, in the first sentence, "Diana gave an on-camera interview" is the correct form. I think "bumped off" is American gangster slang from an earlier epoch. SS
Smokey's right about hyphenation. You can't just sprinkle hyphens around because you like them. They do a job, an adhesive one, in the service of disambiguation-namely, sticking words together to show that a group of words is a functional unit.
"Bump off" is slang, not a euphemism as "spend more time with my family" is.