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Posted by Barney on February 19, 2004

In Reply to: Knee-jerk posted by Sathyaish on February 19, 2004

: A contemporary coinage by the press, I suppose, beats my brains in establishing any possibility of a coherence in between the constituent words and the meaning. What the duece did they imagine would be obvious in tying the word knee-jerk to the meaning "automatic" or "predictable".

: PS: My memory fails me, what are each of the words (the two nouns or a noun and an adjective as in ) in a hyphenated phrase individually known as?

In the medical world your reactions may be tested by having you fold one leg over the other while a white-coated person uses a small rubber hammer to tap your leg immediately below the kneecap. If you leg jerks forwards in an involuntary way then it can be presumed that you are not dead and have normal reactions. This may well be the basis of this phrase.

In regard to your question about nouns and hyphenated words, I confess I'm at a loss. I trust that this reply is of service to you.