May 17, 2004

Word Note

I've probably mentioned this before, but I hate it when people use the phrase "grew like Topsy" to mean "grew very fast." It doesn't.

Topsy was the little girl in Uncle Tom's Cabin, who, when asked when she was born, said, "I wasn't born. I just growed." (So the phrase might be applicable to "emergent phenomena.")

Equally annoying are facile explanations for the decline of the Roman Empire. I wrote this because I just heard some guy on the radio saying that "the welfare rolls of Rome grew like Topsy after the time of Julius Caesar."

Posted by John Weidner at May 17, 2004 9:14 AM
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