Meet cute
Posted: 14 December 2012 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m new to this phrase, but apparently it has been around since WW2 at least. It is sometimes hyphenated, as meet-cute.

It means an entertaining an amusing or adorable incident in which two people who will ultimately become romantically involved meet for the first time.

They meet, and it’s cute. Meet cute. Seems pretty straightforward, I suppose.

And yet, not. Doesn’t it seem unusual to make a noun phrase from a verb and an adjective like this, with the adjective last? I can’t readily think of any other examples. Quite broke my reading stride.

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Posted: 14 December 2012 07:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I wonder if “meet” in “meet-cute” is a noun?  Meet can be a noun (as in track meet) but this is rare.  Or perhaps “meet” is a clipping of “meeting” (which would still make it a noun).  Just WAGs, though.

If “meet” is truly a verb, I agree that verb + adjective = noun phrase seems like an odd construction.  I’m sure there are others with that structure, but none spring to mind.  The potential candidates that occurred to me generally involve a word one that can be either a verb or a noun and a word two that can be either an adverb, an adjective, or a preposition, and after some thought I decided that “word one” is actually a noun in every possibility I could came up with.

[edited first sentence from “suspect that” to “wonder if”, and changed it to a question,
to better reflect my level of confidence in this idea]

[ Edited: 14 December 2012 07:50 PM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 15 December 2012 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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"Cute” is not an adjective here, it’s an adverb without the -ly marker.  The phrase “meet cute” is exactly parallel to “go slow.”

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Posted: 15 December 2012 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Ah, makes sense. I can think of a few such ad hoc adverbisations, e.g. “Even when we win, we win ugly.” So was “meet cute” originally a verb phrase?

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Posted: 15 December 2012 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, in fact that’s the only context in which I’m familiar with it—it is, or started as, movie jargon (the hero and heroine meet cute).

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Posted: 15 December 2012 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Then the mystery is solved. Thanks, lh.

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Posted: 15 December 2012 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Well, it is often used as a noun phrase.  Dictionary.com includes “meet cute” as an idiom in its definition of “cute”, and illustrates the definition with two examples: “a classic Hollywood meet cute” and “his meet-cute with Jane in the bookstore.”

http://m.dictionary.com/definition/cute/?linkId=ibc5yn

I don’t put much stock in my part-of-speech sensor, but both of those seem to be noun phrases to me, particularly the first one.

[Edit: baseless speculation deleted]

[Edit: to reach the definition of meet cute from the link, you may need to click on the “more definitions” button, and scroll down to idioms.]

[ Edited: 15 December 2012 05:09 PM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 16 December 2012 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Well, it is often used as a noun phrase.

Apparently so, but it started as a verb phrase, and the nominal use is clearly derivative of that.

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Posted: 16 December 2012 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’m sure LH is right: the phrase began life as a verb phrase and became nouned (with the noun version referring to an instance of meeting-cute.  But the precise details of the history of the term aren’t clear.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on meet-cute:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meet-cute

The article itself use meet-cute as a noun phrase, and it includes a quote of Roger Ebert using it as a noun phrase, and a quote from the character Arthur, from the rom-com “The Holiday”, in which it is also used as a noun phrase (incidentally, I became acquainted with the phrase by watching that film).

But it also includes a side panel with a quote from a 1964 film review in which it is clearly used as a verb phrase, “to ‘meet cute’”.

Interestingly, and annoyingly, the wiki mentions an interview of Billy Wilder in which he uses the term in reference to a movie he worked on that came out in 1938, but it doesn’t include a link to the interview.  But I managed to google it, and here it is:

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1432/the-art-of-screenwriting-no-1-billy-wilder

Wilder quote himself as saying, “I have a meet-cute for your story,” clearly using it as a noun phrase.  Yet the interview is from 1996, and I wouldn’t expect Wilder to remember the exact wording he had used roughly 60 years ago so this is hardly reliable evidence of how the term was actually used in the mid to late 1930s.

If I had to wager money on it I would bet that the phrase began life as a verb phrase.  Whether it became nouned relatively early in its history (by the 1930s) or much more recently is harder to say (and would require far more research than I have done or have time to do at the moment).

Off topic, but an interesting side note: the character Arthur, in the movie “The Holiday” gives, as an example of a meet-cute,’a scene in a movie where man and a woman who want to buy pajamas from a department store, but one only wants a pajama top and the other only wants a pajama bottom.  It turns out that this is the meet-cute in the very film that Wilder mentions in his 1996 interview, and Wilder discusses it in that interview in almost precisely the same way Arthur refers to it in the movie.

[ Edited: 16 December 2012 09:11 AM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 16 December 2012 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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OK, so I decided to do a quick google books search, looking for the exact phrase “meet cute” between the largely arbitrary date range of 1900 to 1945.  It came up with 6 total hits, one of which seems to be a meta data error.  The rest are unambiguously verbal phrases.

I’m not sure if this will work or not but here’s a link to my search results.

http://books.google.com/books?as_q=&num=10&output=html_text&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=Meet+cute&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&lr=lang_en&as_vt=&as_auth=&as_pub=&as_sub=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=1900&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=1945&as_isbn=&as_issn=

So it seems completely clear that the term began as a verbal phrase (something I didn’t really doubt) and it seems pretty unlikely that it had become nouned by the late 1930s.

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