usingtherightwords

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Black is the New Black


Today is the day after Thanksgiving, the single busiest shopping day of the year. In recent years, I’ve heard the day referred to as “Black Friday,” meaning this is the day that retailers turn a profit, or end up “in the black.”

I looked it up and found this version of the term Black Friday originated in Philadelphia in the 1960s and got its name to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. The use of Black Friday expanded outside of the greater Philadelphia area around 1975 to include the retailers making money.

This is all well and good, but my understanding of the word black is not positive.

Disregarding the definitions related to color or race, a look in the dictionary reveals numerous definitions pertaining to something negative: “thoroughly sinister or evil,” “indicative of condemnation or discredit,” “very sad, gloomy or calamitous” and the one most pertinent here, “marked by the occurrence of disaster.”

We mark our history with various black days, including:

Black Monday (1987) — the day the stock market suffered its largest drop in percentage (October 19)

Black Tuesday (1929) — the infamous stock market crash on October 29 that brought on the Great Depression

Black Thursday (1873) — a bank declared bankruptcy on September 18, causing a series of bank failures as part of the Panic of 1873

Black Friday (1869) — the Fisk-Gould Scandal (Sept. 24), a financial crisis in the U.S.

Black Friday (1978) — a massacre of 88 protesters in Iran on September 8

Black Saturday (1988) — August 20, the single worst day of fires in Yellowstone National Park

Black Sunday (1935) — one of the worst dust storms to ever hit the U.S., on April 14

None of these are particularly positive, so it’s kind of difficult for me to use Black Friday in a positive context.

Fortunately, we have an alternative name for this day: the Day After Thanksgiving.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

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November 29, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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