Discuss word meanings? Well, it’s about time

Linguistic musings from light-years away on the time-space continuum.

Linguistic musings from light-years away on the time-space continuum

“I’ll be with you momentarily.”

Will you now? Just for a moment, then? Because you don’t mean “in a moment,” though that’s how it’s generally used—by me, too. Guilty.

What it actually means is “for a moment.” Consider its adjectival counterpart: momentary, as in “a momentary delay”—a delay lasting a moment.

This weekend saw a shift to daylight-saving time. Note: It’s not daylight savings time; there is a hyphen, and there is no final s on saving. Why? Because we’re saving daylight, hence, daylight-saving time. (By the way: safe-deposit box, not safety-deposit box, unless you plan on depositing your safeties in the box. Hmmm, I supposed one could put a free safety in a strong box and a strong safety in a free box. But I digress. Every chance I get.)

Also, light-year is not a measure of time; it’s a measure of distance. I’d explain just how much distance a light-year covers, but I’d be wasting all the daylight I’ve been saving since Sunday at 2 a.m./3 a.m. Time, after all, is money, though it’s not distance.

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