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Dead reckoning

Posted by R. Berg on July 30, 2005

In Reply to: "ded reckoning"? posted by ESC on July 29, 2005

: : In the explanation for the origin of the phrase "dead ringer" it is noted that :

: : "Dead, in the sense of lifeless, is so commonly used that we tend to ignore its other meanings. The meaning that's relevant here is exact or precise. This is also the sense it is used in the term 'dead reckoning'."

: : I was given to understand that the orinal phrase was rather "ded reckoning" which was an abbreviated form of "deduced rekconing" a nautical term for estimating position by use of speed, elapsed time and direction to "deduce" a vessel's position. I cannot remember the source; am I totally wrong about this origin?

: I don't know. Interesting theory. The previous discussion of the phrase is at bulletin_board 3 messages 420.html

Forget the "deduced" explanation. The Oxford English Dictionary has a separate entry for "dead reckoning" as a phrase. That entry refers to the sense of "dead" defined as "unrelieved; unbroken; absolute; complete; utmost." (Return to ESC's post for the link to a previous discussion.)

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