Friday, February 23, 2007

where did this word come from?

enabler

Did the word "enabler" exist before the late 1990s and I just somehow managed to avoid hearing it? If not, how did the world get by so long without it? It's weird how now identifying someone as an "enabler" ends up having an almost diagnostic character to it, although it's like identifying a sickness in two individuals at once. I know that some kinds of now-prototypic "enabler" (e.g., the spouse of an alcoholic) have long existed, but has something changed in our society to enable "enabler" to come into being as a category unto itself.

Addendum for baseball fans: I have a book called The Baseball Dictionary that I bought on a remainder table sometime around 1990. The phrase "walk-off home run" is not in it. I don't know exactly when that phrase was invented, either, but it's interesting how it's now commonly used and there are even statistics on who has the most career walk-off home runs, which of course includes players who hit their walk-off home runs at a time when nobody knew that's what they were, much less counted them as a special quantifiable class of home run.

Addendum for celebrity news followers: I haven't been really following the story at Anna Nicole Smith, but am I correct in surmising that this judge is using the bench to try to launch a successful TV career, where maybe he can have the hour following The Late Late Late Show With Lance Ito?

6 comments:

Dan Myers said...

The OED takes enabler all the way back to 1615. I'd never have guessed. link. Back to the 20th century, I definitely recall hearing it in an undergrad class about women and addiction in 1987.

Teddy Love said...

FYI, the judge suggested Stern might be an "enabler" in what you refer to as the "now-prototypic" sense, that is, in his role as Smith's spouse and the alleged fact that he continued to supply her with drugs.

As for baseball, I looked this one up last year (being a new fan and all). There's a great little history of the play and the phrase in the Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk-off_home_run

As for celebrity news, from what I've gathered, the judge has a history of "eccentric" behavior and well, I suppose it's not such a leap given his stated desire to retire from the bench and the proliferation of court tv shows, that he might have already been thinking about his own programming. And well, what better launching pad than this case (though I actually thought he seemed awfully sincere in his desire to help the parties work things out and well, correlation is not causation BUT, the results so far are shockingly positive)
Anyway, here's the TMZ report that's been buzzing around:

http://www.tmz.com/2007/02/20/all-rise-judge-seidlin-says-hes-ready-for-tv/

But how bout this ... I'm thinking late-late show with Craig Ferguson meets blogging sociologist? Are you in? I'm gonna have my people call your people ... stay tuned.
As always, TL

AK said...

I remember learning about enablers in health class in middle school (during the height of the just say no era).

Anonymous said...

this judge seems to out-ito lance by a fair margin...

chris said...

strange. i just read the phrase walk off pin to describe a wrestling match. where'd that come from? always a good thing when both combatants are still walking, i suppose.

jeremy said...

There are non-walk off pins in wrestling?