Posted by Henry on November 29, 2004
In Reply to: Bumping off the hyphen posted by Lotg on November 29, 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.
: : : : : : Worse than sprinkling hyphens is using the non-word "alot."
: : : : : Smokey --- what is your authority for a hyphen in bumped off? The dictionary I consulted doesn't seem to think it necessary or appropriate.
: : : : This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine was chastised for overuse of the exclamation point.
: : : Lexi, don't look for the use of hyphens in a dictionary, look in a style manual. They all deal with the subject, although not always in the same way. Each publisher (or his style specialist) answers such stylistic questions in the way he prefers. There is, however, a fair degree of consensus in the use of the hyphen with phrases used as adjectives in the attributive position. SS
: : For clarity the hyphen is very important in the compound-adjective modifier. Everyone surely remembers the one horned flying purple people eater--dh
: Back to bumping off. The only meaning I've ever been familiar with is the one Gary gave earlier: killed. The only time I've heard it used in any other context, eg. to be bumped off your seat - was on this site in an earlier discussion.
: And to my way of thinking, if you've been bumped off, well you're not gonna care whether there's a hyphen. ---GODDESS
When you've been murdered, you've been bumped off. It's common usage in England. When you've been excluded from a flight, I think that you've been just bumped, even if you have been bumped off a flight. Amongst gangsters, bumping off is a clear euphemism for murdering!
SS is quite right about the use of the hyphen. An interview given 'on camera' becomes an 'on-camera' interview. Formally, Diana was never referred to as Princess Diana. I think her title was Diana, Princess of Wales. Newspaper shorthand soon adopted Princess Di.