Fossil word

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A fossil word is a word that is generally obsolete but remains in currency because it is contained within an idiom still in use.[1][2]

Fossil status can also occur for word senses and for phrases. An example for a word sense is navy in merchant navy, which means 'commercial fleet' (although that sense of navy is obsolete elsewhere). An example for a phrase is in point ('relevant'), which is retained in the larger phrases case in point (also case on point in the legal context) and in point of fact but is not otherwise used outside of a legal context.

English language examples[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ fossil. Additions Series, 1993 (Second Edition, 1989 ed.). Oxford English Dictionary. "A word or other linguistic form preserved only in isolated regions or in set phrases, idioms, or collocations" 
  2. ^ Curme, George Oliver (1931). Syntax. D. C. Heath and Company. 
  3. ^ Quinion, Michael. World Wide Words
  4. ^ Yahoo dictionary kith and kin
  5. ^ Phrase Finder at loggerheads
  6. ^ Phrase Finder in the offing
  7. ^ Phrase Finder short shrift