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Lex maniac

Investigating changes in American English vocabulary over the last 50 years

Tag Archives: finance

baked in

(2000’s | financese? | “built in”)

In a literal sense, we use “baked in” to refer to an ingredient incorporated before cooking, meaning that it is inseparable from the other ingredients and inextricable from the dish as a whole (as “baked-in flavor”). When we use it figuratively, it means something more like “inevitable.” It seems to have originated among financial types in the seventies and eighties (LexisNexis records the great banker Walter Wriston dropping it in 1979), generally in the form “(already) baked in the cake,” i.e., predetermined because macroeconomic conditions now in place (not necessarily because we planned it that way) must result in certain consequences no matter what we do.

Nowadays “baked in” retains that air of inevitability, but an alternate connotation has arisen: there from the start (also inherent in the literal). It is unreasonable to expect to get rid of it because it was always there, and everything around it has changed to reflect its presence. Any strongly held tenet of a political stance, a social movement, a scientific process, or a hunch can be baked in — and the phrase is still used often to talk about markets and marketing. Take a sentence like “In America, racism is baked in,” a proposition obvious to anyone with a glancing knowledge of our history. It was there from the beginning, it’s impossible (so far) to get rid of, and it continues to loom over contemporary politics and events.

“Baked in” doesn’t have to refer to a flaw, but it usually does. Here are two in the same ballpark: “hard-wired” and “overdetermined.” They are all generally used to explain after the fact why something happened and to tell us we should have seen it coming. The relation to the older “built in” — which “baked in” has not to date displaced — is obvious; the connection to “half-baked” is more subtle. “Steeped in” is another old culinary metaphor that works the same crowd.

Even now, “baked in” usually comes after the (linking) verb and spends little time acting as verb itself. (You do see it occasionally, especially among techie writers.) It doesn’t act as adjective often before a noun, either, but it could. It seems noteworthy that it is much more common in a passive mood than an active, a significant trait that may change over time. Poetic justice favors its use in discussions of climate change, but that turn does not seem to have been fully taken.

The descent from “baked in the cake” to “baked in” reminds us how many new expressions arrive at their final form simply by having pieces lopped off, usually at the end. An elaboration deemed necessary when an expression sounds new and daring grows tiresome over time, and we retreat gratefully to the shortened version. As with “lean in” and others, the process has yielded a new phrasal verb, or rather made an old one more common, operating over a much wider field.

Lovely Liz from Queens has ventured “baked in” more than once, which means she considers it a good candidate for the blog. Dead-on as usual, ba-bee! I know you will set me right if I have erred.

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proof of concept

(1970’s | enginese? miltarese? | “practical demonstration”)

It’s neither proof nor concept, really. “Concept,” a philosopher’s term, is slumming here, donning the mantle of any crassly marketable consumer good. “Proof” — the bottom line for everyone, as Paul Simon said — is replaced by “we’re pretty sure it will work,” or “we got it to work once.” Proof of concept is an early milestone in the process of research and development; the expression has become essential in both technological and financial circles. It is a rudimentary demonstration of the viability or feasibility — terms that sound more ordinary and less jargony than they did — of a new idea or application of an idea, whether product, technology, or government program. Trying to answer the simplest of questions: Can it get off the ground?

There are a couple of related expressions. An obvious one is prototype, but that refers to something more advanced, a working model that approximates the mechanics and processes that cause your thing to go. Proof of concept merely establishes that what you want to do is possible, leaving many fine points unexplored. A prototype has to answer more questions. “Minimum viable product,” which I have alluded to before, goes beyond the prototype; no longer a model, it is the thing itself in its simplest form. This site explains it all for you.

I don’t know if they were meaningfully related or not, but “proof of concept” reminds me of “proof of purchase.” By the mid-1970’s, the latter was quite common, having replaced “box tops” in consumer vocabulary as your means of earning a reward for buying enough of a particular product. Such lagniappes still exist, but they are less built into the system than they used to be. “Proof of” has a long history, and plenty of words may follow it. But I have a feeling that “purchase” was its most frequently heard adjunct at the crucial moment when “proof of concept” was formed.

The phrase dates from 1967, says Wikipedia. Executives and experts in military and technological fields tossed it around some back in the seventies. Available as a noun or adjective even then, it now takes an indefinite article and has become widespread, although still mostly associated with new technology and the wherewithal to develop it. But it’s used in other contexts and may creep into more.

Once again, my old buddy Charles comes through with a solid new expression, though not the one he thought he was supplying. If Charles says it, it must be good.

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crash and burn

(1980’s | businese? | “fall from grace,” “drop like a rock,” “fail spectacularly,” “crap out”)

Lex Maniac seems to be drifting into a pattern of belatedly considering rough synonyms. Following on “crater,” I regaled you with “tank,” and now “crash and burn,” a fairly close relative of both. One gets into these ruts now and then when one blogs for ten years. (Ulp! Ten years?!) If it’s any consolation, this is probably the least interesting of the three — but who knows what my stale brain will conjure next week? — so I’ll try to keep it short.

In 1980, the expression was already fixed but was used almost invariably for planes and other aircraft. (Maybe the odd bus now and then.) In the following decade, it began to turn up in common figurative use, especially but not exclusively in the financial and entertainment press. Its primary distinction from “tank” and “crater,” it seems to me, is that a single person can do it. You probably wouldn’t hear “Joe cratered” or “Joe tanked,” but “Joe crashed and burned” doesn’t sound strange. “Crater” and “tank” have stronger roots in statistics and numbers more generally — it’s not invariable, but often they are used in cases of measurable or quantifiable decline. “Crash and burn” swings both ways, too, but seems more at home where numbers are not involved. Otherwise, the phrases are similar, sharing a sense of quick, dramatic, violent collapse.

To crash and burn, you have to be flying high. The expression calls to mind Icarus, who crashed but did not burn. The implication that the person so affected may have brought it on himself is often present but not invariable. Even a mediocre stock can tank or crater, but to crash and burn, a stock has to have a stratospheric price, a politician has to be a rising star or seemingly impregnable, a movie has to be costly and heralded.

There’s not a whole lot to this expression otherwise. “Crash” has long borne the sense of a sharp, sudden loss of status or value, and “crash and burn” is probably no more than an elaboration of that. You still find it frequently in businese, where it recurs reliably. It’s not clear that it’s related directly to “fall into a deep sleep,” but it is almost certainly related indirectly. It’s popular as a title in popular entertainment, so there a number of songs, movies, etc. called “Crash and Burn.” Urban Dictionary reminds us that it may refer specifically to someone’s life falling apart on account of excessive drug use (“crashing” is something that drug users do a lot, so the association is natural). Noted in passing: “Crash and burn” has its origins in aviation, a member of a small but distinguished family that includes “ahead of the curve,” “flame out,” “glide path,” “under the radar,” and “wingman.”

I have failed to keep it short; I’ve indulged my usual prolix tendencies and my laudable intentions have crashed and burned. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

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(1980’s | businese (finance) | “drop,” “go downhill (in a hurry),” “plummet”)

Lex Maniac is slow but sure. I had almost finished my last post (“crater”) before I realized “tank” has a very similar meaning and history, and I resolved then and there to cover it next. The two verbs are generally interchangeable, but there is one notable divergence: it’s easier to recover from tanking. More drastic action is required to recover from cratering. A stock may tank and spike again; if it craters, it probably won’t.

Both expressions seem to have arisen during the 1980’s, mainly in financial writing, although “tank” has its origins in athletese. Sportswriters have used “tank” for decades to mean “lose deliberately,” originally at the behest of gamblers, though that implication has worn away. Its reach has broadened over time to include entire seasons rather than single games or matches. Towards the end of last year’s NFL season, the word got quite a workout in discussions of whether the two weakest teams in the league, the Jets and Jaguars, would lose games deliberately in order to finish with the worst record and therefore get the top draft pick. Players asserted, as they must, that they weren’t tanking; columnists wondered if the coaches and front office were. “Tank,” once associated primarily with sports like boxing and tennis, is used often now to talk about teams rather then individuals.

The financial usage does not suggest intentional failure; a stock price or the entire economy may tank for reasons beyond anyone’s control. It has become standard if still a bit slangy (slang adds tang). Lately the word goes often with “fortune,” and you read about a fortune tanking when someone loses a lot of money. The arenas of sport and finance seem to require such words of ill omen more than others, where abasement may replace jubilation with lightning speed. Politics, too, of course. When your fortune tanks, you’re out a lot of money. When your fortunes tank, your public career is over.

“Tank” has other meanings that probably have nothing to do with this one, so what the hell, here are two: communal jail cell (drunk tank), and communal intellectual effort (think tank). The idea seems to be that because the tank is enclosed, it fosters interaction and therefore teamwork, or at least drunken banter. “Get tanked,” by the way, means “get drunk,” and “tanked” is used occasionally to mean drunk. (Not, alas, an echo of “tankard,” but possibly related to “drunk tank.”) “In the tank” is another way to say “gone to the dogs” or “in the toilet.” These seem closer in spirit to the sports and financial uses. There is no apparent lineal descent from either “tank town” (old-fashioned term for small and insignificant place), or the weapon. In fact, none of the manifold definitions of “tank” seems to have much to do with our verb, with the possible exception of “in the tank.” Maybe that’s the connection, though it doesn’t seem very satisfying. Why should “tank” mean throw a game? Or “fall hard and fast”? It isn’t very plausible. “Crater” makes much more sense.

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(1980’s | businese (finance) | “collapse,” “crash,” “tumble,” “drop,” “fall off a cliff,” “go south”)

“Crater” has always entailed a certain magnitude, not to mention violence. Its original meaning in English, the primary opening of a volcano, goes back to a Greek word for bowl. The noun has always denoted a big hole in the earth, which may be caused by rumblings from below or impact from above, from a meteor, say, or a bomb. Craters by implication are dangerous. If you don’t get engulfed in boiling lava, you may fall into one and never be heard from again. When used figuratively, say to describe a bullet wound, “crater” may be small in absolute terms but large in proportion to where it is. I dimly remember “crater face,” an affectionate nickname for high school students with heavy acne.

When “crater” takes the mantle of a verb — a relatively new phenomenon, even if Chambers etymological dictionary found a citation as far back as 1884 — it brings the same suggestions with it. I didn’t find many pre-2000 examples in LexisNexis; nearly all of them occurred in the financial press. Finance and corporate culture are reliable sources of American vocabulary, and analysts and executives often have a surprising flair for the dramatic. Whether the field is small (a single company) or great (the entire banking system), the verb signifies a sudden and unforeseeable decrease in value (we used to talk about the bottom falling out). The effect of the pandemic on certain industries — airlines, restaurants, petroleum, Hollywood, etc. — gave it a boost last year. As the economy craters, the frequency of the verb does the opposite. One might resort to “crater” when discussing roads or buildings, but such matter-of-fact use is rare.

By now the verb has become more common and has loosened up. Wherever it is used, the sense of a sudden sharp decrease is still the rule, but the magnitude may be more disconcerting than cataclysmic. Still used frequently in financial circles, the verb turns up more and more elsewhere, especially on the sports page, where it is not unusual to see reference to a team cratering (getting clobbered) in a single game or stretch of games, even an entire season. Other mutations are gaining speed as well. The past participle does duty as an adjective, which was rare twenty years ago (except when used to describe terrain or pavement). “Crater” is very often intransitive, but the transitive form, which goes back a long way, has been asserting itself more. (A recent example from a financial blogger: “Restaurant traffic is picking up after the pandemic cratered most of the sector.”) There is another semi-transitive use, when the verb is followed by an amount: for example, a stock’s value “cratered 25%.” That was possible twenty years ago but much less conventional. As best I can figure the percentage is really an adverb, but it certainly looks like a noun, and I’m not convinced it isn’t really an object.

“To crater” started as a narrow, specialized term; now we see it spreading its wings, eyeing new directions, acquiring variant usages, dropping from more lips. That probably means we will hear it more in the next twenty years than we have in the past twenty.

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(2000’s | “rara avis,” “one of a kind,” “exceptional person, etc.”)

If the unicorn is a mythical, non-existent creature (unless you count the oryx), why do we use the word to mean something or someone that does exist, but is exceedingly rare? Aside from the meaning of the term in financial circles — a start-up company that has achieved capitalization of one billion dollars — it has come to mean a remarkable person or thing, often with the implication that the so-named is desirable. Is that because a couple of generations have grown up thinking unicorns are cute and cuddly? Do large portions of the population have a secret fascination with unicorns that has caused the culture to wish fiction over the line into reality? (The culture has developed strong tendencies to wish fiction into reality, I’m told.) I don’t think we take the names of any other mythical beasts in vain in quite the same way, but what other name might we use? Hippogriff? Cockatrice?

The adoption of “unicorn” for this purpose seems partly intuitive and partly not; I feel like I understand it at first but on reflection it slips out of my grasp. It looks like an elaboration of “unique,” an adjective, but beyond doubt a related word. And it sounds a lot like “unica,” a word collectors use to mean “the only thing like it in the world.” The quickly growing financial usage has already begun to water down that sense of uniqueness, and my guess is that in a decade or less, “unicorn” will be used much more loosely to refer to anything a little out of the ordinary. I suspect the connotation of desirability will persist.

If you look at the pre-1980 equivalents listed above, you see another incentive for a word like “unicorn” to work its way into the language. The first (literally “rare bird”) was already pretty “rara” when I was a boy; one encountered it in crossword puzzles but nowhere else. The second matches, in a longer, clunkier sort of way, but can’t take an article; the third has no grace. Rare, desirable things come up often in our conversation, albeit as something wished for rather than something had. To fill that slot, we want a nice, simple one-word noun that follows an article naturally, and if it has some cachet, all the better.

The financial meaning came along within the past ten years and is credited to Aileen Lee, a financial manager and investor who first used “unicorn” that way in 2013. Well before then — I found an example in the late seventies, but only one — it was used to refer to anything sui generis. (It is a relatively short step from none to one.) Even that older usage did not become common until much later, after 2000; I have a notion I’ve been seeing it more often lately.

“Unicorn” names several different things with no obvious connection: a cryptocurrency, a motorcycle, a sitcom. The word has a definite pull; while it has never overrun everyday language in any of its figurative senses — if its primary referent is mythical, can it usefully be said to have a literal sense? — some writers really like it. Little kids, apparently, never tire of the mythical beasts.

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(1970’s | therapese | “exchange-based”)

First there was transactional immunity, a legal concept having to do with grand jury testimony, where a witness may be compelled to testify about a crime he was involved in with a promise that he won’t face prosecution. Traditionally, the witness was assured that no prosecution would follow for a crime described in testimony, and that was known as “transactional immunity.” Congress changed the law so that a witness could be prosecuted for such crimes, but the witness’s grand jury testimony could not be used as part of the prosecution (“use immunity”). A complicated distinction with big ramifications.

In the seventies, along came transactional analysis, encapsulated in the book “I’m OK, You’re OK” by Thomas Harris, which led a fad in the middle of the decade. I don’t remember being aware of the term at the time (though I was aware of the book), and the definition seems to have been rather vague, but the idea was to examine how you dealt with other people in order to improve such encounters (transaction = interaction). In practice, that meant you did role-playing exercises to help you deal more pleasantly with others and learn more reliable methods of engaging with them. Transactional management, which emphasized maintaining an existing system through rewards and punishments, invoked a related concept in businese.

Today the catch-phrase is transactional data, which is what Google and Amazon want: detailed records of your purchases, on-line or otherwise, so they can wring more money out of you. Here we have a straightforward adjective formation meaning “of or pertaining to a transaction,” which has been around a long time and represents what is probably still the most common guise of “transactional.” In the seventies it was not used often; it’s much more common now.

Despite the continuing prevalence of the business usage, the real story here is the shift from the legal and financial to the human, which began with Harris. The word is often used now to talk about the ways we treat each other, related to the older concept of “keeping score” in a relationship. A connection between two people, like any other kind, does require some scorekeeping. Any relationship I’ve ever seen, healthy and successful or otherwise, involves a certain amount of paying attention to who has done what for whom lately and making adjustments accordingly. But a predominantly or purely transactional bond doesn’t last very long, because it forces you to focus on the wrong things. Instead of making the most of your partner’s pleasing or compatible traits, you wonder whether you’re getting enough for what you’re giving, and that line of thought leads to dissatisfaction and resentment.

A recent example from the wider world of politics: several commentators described as “transactional” Michael Bloomberg’s apology for excessive stop-and-frisks by the NYPD during his term as mayor. The word conveys the idea that the apology was insincere, a kind of bribe offered without any real reflection or concern about the effects of the policy. It’s safe to say that Bloomberg’s move asked for a quid pro quo; he was in effect asking African-Americans to reconsider him and even give him their votes. In larger social contexts as in smaller personal contexts, the transactional requires an ongoing series of exchanges, which must involve calculation and record-keeping (writing, humanity’s pre-eminent means of keeping records, developed out of commerce, after all). Now that the term has moved into social science jargon to talk about the interpersonal, it is firmly anchored in two realms and seems unlikely to budge from either.

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glide path

(1980’s | enginese (aviation) | “home stretch”)

Literally, a glide path is a guided landing route with a defined angle, designed to give the aircraft the best chance to land safely. Not necessarily easily or smoothly, you understand. In financial and economic use, it does suggest smoothness or ease: a course one creates to ensure a planned, predictable transition to a desired state. Today, it is often used to talk about saving for retirement, as in creating an investment strategy designed to provide maximum returns and security. The idea of smoothness in getting where you want to be still predominates. In all these senses, “glide path” implies that you are headed for the finish line.

While use in the financial realm continues to predominate, I sense a change of direction for this expression, which suffers from the same malady as any other that conveys reassurance — it is easily misused. Because “glide path” in popular usage (not that it’s used much in everyday conversation) suggests not only smoothness but security — a sense not only that you are coming for a safe landing but that you are landing in a safe place — it is no great matter for the unscrupulous to adopt it to disguise difficulties and uncertainties. Bureaucrats especially seem prone to such flummery, confidently assuring members of Congress or their superiors that everything is on the road to success and prosperity, where a less biased observer might notice significant shortcomings. I likewise sense that the phrase is starting to develop an ironic side, on which the destination may not be so desirable after all, sort of a modern version of Matthew 7:13, “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction.” We may start to see more and more references to a “glide path to perdition” and that sort of thing. Keep an eye out.

The phrase goes back a ways in aviation, at least to the 1940’s. Arthur C. Clarke wrote one novel that was not science fiction, and it was titled “Glide Path,” a fictional account of the development of ground-based radar to help land planes during World War II, says Wikipedia. Seems straightforward enough. I haven’t done an aviation term in a while. The others I’ve covered are “ahead of the curve,” “flame out,” “under the radar,” and “wingman.” For some reason, all of these have turned into hardy perennials, expressions that have grown not only commonplace but so well assimilated that we no longer think of them as new expressions. (“Glide path” hasn’t reached that eminence yet; it remains a phrase mostly encountered in print, smacking faintly of the unfamiliar.) Considered among the total number of new expressions that have washed into the language over the last fifty years, aviation is a minor source. But the ones it does produce have a good track record. Flying continues to have some mystique, I guess. We still carry around the image of the taciturn yet heroic captain bravely saving the plane, or dedicated fighting men driving the enemy out of the sky. Or maybe the reproductive success of aviation-born expressions is random, driven by a conventional combination of evocativeness, the rise of new concepts requiring new words, and coming along at the right moment. But I don’t think so. There’s a reason terms sprung from aviation have done so well.

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(businese (finance) | “take advantage of,” “turn to one’s advantage,” “exploit”)

A word that has always baffled me slightly. Most words are pretty easy to define with a little thought; I can usually come up with two or three synonyms for an ordinary word, and at least one for the less ordinary. “Leverage” has many definitions, and it has an unusual quality: Just when you think you understand what you’ve got pretty well, some other usage comes along. The word seems too simple to encompass such a large field. I learned it first in the ancient Archimedean sense of having a solid enough base to exert force or pressure in a certain direction. (As a boy, I heard the word pronounced “leeverage,” but in my family we said “levverage.”) I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but it was already available as a verb in businese, whence it has sprawled in ungainly growth. In the financial world, leverage has mainly to do with debt. I’m not a good guide to financial jargon, but the basic idea of leverage, as I understand it, is that you borrow money to put yourself in a position to borrow more money from someone else. So you might borrow money to purchase another company, and you use those funds as collateral for the loans you have to take out to complete the larger transaction. That’s a simplified description of the leveraged buyout, which caused a lot of trouble in the eighties. In this sense, “leverage” seems clearly descended from the Archimedean; the borrowed assets provide means to liberate larger sums, as a place to stand provides means to move the earth. An older way to define leverage is as an institution’s ratio of debt to equity — the higher the ratio, the more debt the company carries. In fact, sometimes “leverage” is a straightforward substitute for “debt” in the financial press.

And that’s the puzzling thing about “leverage.” The thread of debt runs through it — debt, which should be a source of weakness rather than strength — but the word “leverage” itself lends it power. While loans with a reasonable probability of being repaid are the lifeblood of capitalism, when too many people lend too much money at too much risk, things can go south in a hurry, as history has shown time after time. That proves true within single corporations as in entire economies. Money that you can spend now and don’t have to repay until later continues to exert a fascination for any capitalist, and debt carefully managed may lead to substantial gains. Maybe I just have puritan ideas about how money ought to be handled, but I wonder if the notion of gaining strength from debt rather than sapping it is what gives me trouble with this word.

Well, it’s not just for bankers any more, leverage. (Like “monetize,” it is a technical term in economics that has seeped into the greater discourse.) Now it commonly serves as a transitive verb meaning roughly, “make the most of what you have to work with.” So you leverage data gleaned from your web analytics to increase your customer base, or you leverage your skills or talent to create a side hustle. These examples still reek of the financial, but the word is used casually by people far from the industry. It means roughly the same thing as it did in the financial sector in the seventies, when banks leveraged assets all the time — using whatever they could scare up to produce larger gains. Which is still a recognizable echo of our old friend Archimedes. The idea of surprising gain from relatively little effort persists down through the ages. But now the idea seems to be let’s use whatever we have lying around or can generate, whether it provides more bang for the buck or not. Leveraging is successful if it produces any benefit at all, even if everybody has to do extra work. Leverage has lost its ease. (Wait, wouldn’t that be “lvrag”?)

In politics, leverage means brute exercise of power over others for any sort of gain, political or personal. The distinction matters little; leverage can be used on or against anyone for any purpose. Finding the lever that gives you the ability to put your opponent into an untenable position, with very few holds barred. An idea as old as politics, clothed in a new word.

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exit strategy

(1980’s | businese | “way out,” “cutting one’s losses,” “covering all the bases”)

You would think this is a militarese term, but it isn’t, or it wasn’t. Used almost exclusively in the financial press until 1990, its definition was straightforward: a contingency plan to get out of an unwanted obligation, partnership, or any foreseeable situation in the most advantageous way possible. In case everything goes south, figure out an escape route that will spare you penury or embarrassment. Before 1990 it appeared typically in quotation marks, but that was no longer true by the mid-nineties; by the time William Safire immortalized it in a December 1995 column, it was common currency. The financial usage has not disappeared, but in the public mind it has been overwhelmed by the political. Candidates looking to get out of a losing campaign picked it up before 1990, at least in a couple of cases. After 1990, foreign policy analysts grabbed the expression, and it soon became de rigueur for invasion planning. How do you take out the bad guys, bring your people home, and avoid a quagmire?

You don’t have to be an astute observer of foreign policy to know that the advent of the new expression has not made our military leaders any better at formulating or executing workable plans — we are still stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq. Which raises a significant point: In warfare, only invaders need an exit strategy. If you’re being invaded, you just have to sit there and take it, unless you can force the invader out by causing enough casualties and mayhem. (An official of the invaded country might also need an exit strategy, a way to leave town quickly and quietly if the political winds shift.) When a financial institution needs an exit strategy, it’s usually a matter of extricating itself from an internal decision that isn’t working out, or of getting out of a contract between two more or less equal parties. In the military, you have to commit offensive action; there’s no need for an exit strategy if you never leave the base. When one field borrows an expression from another, naturally the meaning may change, but this is quite a twist.

The odd thing about the expression is that it is not used literally. You don’t hear one nervous moviegoer ask another, “What’s our exit strategy?,” in a crowded theater. It doesn’t sound right when you’re talking about a building or vehicle. It may, however, be used whimsically to talk about a job, relationship, or some other important sector of our lives. It’s not hard to imagine two brokers discussing the most effective ways to get away from their employers, or two men discussing how to get away from the girlfriend if she loses her appeal. (Mercifully, Paul Simon didn’t call the song “Fifty Exit Strategies for Leaving Your Lover.”)

It’s a little far-fetched, but I hear in this phrase the echo of stage direction. Here’s how it might be used: Imagine a king suffering a reverse and announcing that he intends to lash out blindly and abandon reason from now on. Like Macbeth, for example. When he finishes, the stage directions say, “Exit King. Exit strategy.” Yes, it is a little far-fetched.

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