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Re: Listen up

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 29, 2008 at 20:43:

In Reply to: Listen up posted by Iris Broudy on March 29, 2008 at 18:14:

: When was the expression "listen up" first used? I'm copyediting a novel that takes place in 1898 and one character uses this expression. It sounds anachronistic to me.

It sounds anachronistic to me as well. My desultory search in dictionaries, including the O.E.D., did not find the phrase. My first acquaintance with it was in connection with police and the military, who get "briefings." Was it in use in World War II? I can't say for sure, although there are doubtless others who CAN say for sure. My impression is that it came into wide use only after that war.

I think your job as copy editor requires you to be merciless, and where there's doubt, delete. Find a substitute, unless your author can show you something to change your mind. "Pay attention, fellows," sounds a lot less questionable.
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