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Bucket list
Posted: 06 April 2017 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]
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OED has this in the entry for the phrase:

...... popularized by the title of the film The Bucket List (2007): see quot. 2006

The quotation referenced is this one:

2006 UPI Newswire (Nexis) 29 June Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are set to star in ‘The Bucket List’, about two cancer patients… The two terminally ill men make a wish list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket—called the bucket list—then take a road trip.

The use of popularized implies that the term was not original to the film, unless OED was using its words loosely, and consequently there is an earlier usage unrelated to it. No evidence is presented for such earlier usage though. Is there anything elsewhere on this?

BTW I’m finding Google Advanced Book Search infuriating. I ran a search for the term prior to 2006 and while the phrase does appear often in specialist computing literature it is clearly unrelated to the sense sought. However a few interesting titles turned up, one being Top of the World: Climbing Everest, 2002, by Steve Jenkins. Ah, I thought, climbing Everest, just the sort of thing to appear on a bucket list. Hopeful I searched inside the book. ‘No matches’. Several other books produced the same result. And yet all these books had been returned by Google using the parameter ‘exact phrase’. As I say, infuriating!

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Posted: 06 April 2017 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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All I can tell you is that my search results gel with yours.

Not even Urban Dictionary has any entries for this prior to the release of the movie, and the UDers are usually pretty quick off the mark when new phrases emerge.

One thing about GABS is that it seems to include books even if the searched phrase only appears in the reviewers’ comments. eg I just did the exact phrase search on ‘bucket list’ from 1990 to 2005, and among the entries it brought up were Mein Kampf and The Mishnah (because some damned reviewer mentioned that these books were on the bucket list).

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Posted: 06 April 2017 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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"The Bucket List” by Kingsley Amis, unless my memory is playing serious tricks with me. I have it somewhere in the attic. Don’t know the date, but Amis died in 1995.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 12:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The use of popularized implies that the term was not original to the film

I’m not sure I agree with you, Aldi, about the implication. Why should the use of “popularized” carry any implication at all about earlier use? (Sorry it led you, and apparently OP Tipping as well, into a fruitless search, though).

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Posted: 07 April 2017 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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lionello - 07 April 2017 12:39 AM

Why should the use of “popularized” carry any implication at all about earlier use?

It would be a very sloppy way for a dictionary to indicate ‘coined by X and subsequently became popular’.

[ Edited: 07 April 2017 11:26 PM by kurwamac ]
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Posted: 07 April 2017 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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frma - 06 April 2017 11:03 PM

“The Bucket List” by Kingsley Amis, unless my memory is playing serious tricks with me. I have it somewhere in the attic. Don’t know the date, but Amis died in 1995.

I do think your memory is at fault, frma. No sign of such a book by Amis on the net and I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss it.

OP, that may well be why these false positives are coming up. If so it makes the book search much harder to sift.

Lionello, it’s certainly not impossible that OED was signifying that the phrase originated with the film but as kurwamac commented it would be a very sloppy way of doing so.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Slate Blog

The book is “Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky” by Patrick M. Carlisle

Seems to predate it to 2004, but I can’t do a book search on this to verify it.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 03:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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steve_g - 07 April 2017 01:35 AM

Slate Blog

The book is “Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky” by Patrick M. Carlisle

Seems to predate it to 2004, but I can’t do a book search on this to verify it.

It is in the book you mention.  YOu may find it in Google Books, then search for “cut loose” or some other phrase from the cited passage.  It includes a list of odd things to do.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I wouldn’t trust that e-book version of Unfair & Unbalanced. The copyright page gives a date of 2003–2010 and includes the note: “Many of the pieces in this book were originally published in previous versions.” That indicates that portions have been added since 2004. You need a hard copy of the 2004 edition to tell for sure if the phrase was in the original.

My memory tells me that I was familiar with the term when I first heard of the movie, but that may be faulty. I could be conflating it with the 2000 movie The Whole Nine Yards.

There was a thread on this topic on the American Dialect Society email list four years ago; no one turned up anything predating the movie. Jesse Sheidlower piped in that he had an earlier citation, but was too busy at that moment to find it. (Was it the 2004 Unfair & Unbalanced hit or something else?) It’s times like this that I curse Google for destroying the Usenet archives.

It would be interesting to see how the term is presented in the movie. (I’ve never seen the film.) That may give some clue as to whether the writers invented it or not.

Bucket list actually made it into my dissertation, but I wasn’t looking at the origin. It came up in my discussion of dead metaphors:

The disappearance of the ‘beam’ sense of bucket from our familiar vocabulary has caused the metaphor to die, even while the phrase itself remains in common and even linguistically productive use, continuing to spawn daughter terms like bucket list. Note: The opacity of the kick the bucket metaphor has caused some to reanalyze bucket list as a container of hopes and dreams. See: Tiffani Ohmer, “Large Container of Goals (Bucket List),” Pinterest.com, n. d.

And before anyone brings it up, the Big List on kick the bucket.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dave Wilton - 07 April 2017 04:35 AM

There was a thread on this topic on the American Dialect Society email list four years ago; no one turned up anything predating the movie. Jesse Sheidlower piped in that he had an earlier citation, but was too busy at that moment to find it.

Or it was too large to fit in the margin. It would be interesting to know just what his earlier citation was. I’ll email him to see if he remembers.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Agreed, e-Books are often updated regularly. I guess as it’s easier to do now than when you had to print-off a whole new edition.
Anyone near a library that might have a copy of the 2004 edition?

“I could be conflating it with the 2000 movie The Whole Nine Yards. “ which is interesting as 9 yards is the length of film used in Silent Movie days for the entire credit list.

(heads for door fast)

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Posted: 07 April 2017 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Jesse Sheidlower replied promptly to my email (God, I love the interconnectivity of the net).

At this point I’m not sure. I recall that OED had an earlier quotation that turned out to be bogus, so it’s possible that I was referring to this one, before it was discredited. Also, OED now has a 2006 example, although in reference to the then-forthcoming movie; that is technically earlier than the movie but doesn’t really change the fact that the term does seem to stem from the movie.

I hope this little bit helps.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I cannot find anything by Amis with a title close to Bucket List.

I do think that the etymological notes saying ‘popularized’ are meant to cast doubt on the origin, or at least leave the matter open.

FWIW, they way that they introduced the term in the film suggested to me that the term originated with the film: it is implied that a fictional character invented the term.

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Posted: 07 April 2017 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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OP Tipping - 07 April 2017 06:58 PM



FWIW, they way that they introduced the term in the film suggested to me that the term originated with the film: it is implied that a fictional character invented the term.

I think that’s a good indicator that the term was the brainchild of the screenwriter, one Justin Zackham whom I would have asked but astonishingly for a young guy in this day and age he has no Twitter, Facebook or webpage (clearly a man after my own heart!).

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Posted: 08 April 2017 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Maybe a pseudonym?

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Posted: 08 April 2017 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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languagehat - 08 April 2017 05:15 AM

Maybe a pseudonym?

Good point, I hadn’t thought of that.

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