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When is a lot a lot?

One aspect of our language I do not always like is how words evolve into different meanings than their original usage.

Take lot, for example. It first appears in the Jewish Bible as a nephew of Abraham who escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, only to have his wife look back and get turned into a pillar of salt.

Around the 12th century, it added “an object used as a counter in determining a question by chance:” casting lots.

Then it grew to mean “one’s way of life or worldly fate:” one’s lot in life.

Then it became what I most often consider it: “a measured parcel of land having fixed boundaries and designated on a plot or survey:” a vacant lot.

Then it got bastardized into meaning “a considerable quantity:” a lot of money.

I don’t believe we need that last definition because we already have so many better words: plenty, numerous, large, more than enough, etc.

If you want to sound less intelligent, go ahead and use a lot to denote quantity. Just never write alot because that’s not a word. Perhaps there you mean allot, which means “to distribute, divide or appropriate.”

So, when is a lot a lot? Always.

Until next time! Use the right words!


February 22, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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