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Coin a phrase

Posted by ESC on December 30, 2003

In Reply to: Code of conduct posted by Shae on December 29, 2003

: : : Here's one for you guys, someone please help me out.


: : How rude.

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From the archives:
COIN A PHRASE, TO - "To invent a phrase, which if it is apt or imaginative may gain currency, and become popular generally. Today this phrase is mostly used ironically to accompany a banal remark or cliché. 'Who, to coin a phrase, would have thought of meeting you?' Ngaio Marsh: Hand in Glove, ch iv " From "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).

*to coin a phrase* is a hackneyed phrase used by some people not to introduce a phrase which they have just invented but to introduce a well-known cliche, as _To coin a phrase, the police will throw the book at him_. The expression is American in origin and became popular in Britain in the middle of twentieth century. It is still widespread today, sometimes, but by no means always, being used humorously or ironically.
From _Cliches_ by Betty Kirkpatrick
It takes all sorts to make a world, to coin a phrase. (F.B. Young, _ Mr. Lucton's Freedom_, 1940)
You look (to coin a phrase) "in the pink." (G. Hackforth-Jones, _The Worst Enemy_, 1950)

Like it says above, people often use the phrase incorrectly.