Time to Run Down Run Up
Posted by languageandgrammar on February 7, 2008
There are myriad reasons for objecting to the war in Iraq, and I will focus on the least important of all–the now-obsessive use of the term run up. Ever since that war was merely in the planning stage, the phrases run up to the war has been uttered about 800,000,000 times.
To given an idea of the overuse of the word run in general, I went to dictionary.com. Granted, dictionary.com is best used as a source of usage, not of correct grammar; however, with 150 separate definitions for the word run, it certainly gives an accurate accounting of the extent of its overuse. It’s hard to imagine a reason for inventing yet another use; that poor, little three-letter word must be exhausted from all the running around already!
There is no doubt that run up is in fashion today; it’s as popular as crop pants at retirement village on a sunny June day. Its popularity seemed to increase with the talk of the Iraq war, but it’s now used with regularity to describe the time preceding nearly any event, such as the run up to the election, the run up to the storm, and the run up to the holidays.
Trendy words and expressions are typically used because the speaker believes that the trendy word will make him sound more important, more intelligent, or more modern. In this case, it merely makes the speaker sound less articulate because the phrases that it’s replacing, such as the time preceding or the time prior to or even the simple before, are all more articulate. (By the way, overly trendy words and phrases have their own chapter, It’s All Bad–Believe Me, in my upcoming book)
In the run up to the election, I think that we should seriously consider voting for the candidate who promises to run down this phrase.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
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