palpable

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    In recent years "palpable" is much used by columnists as an approximate synonym for "clear". How did the use of "palpable" become so widespread? What is the difference in meaning between the two words?
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The original meaning of "palpable" was "capable of being touched," from the Latin verb palpare, "to touch." But over the years its meaning has been expanded to include virtually any way of sensing something, even an abstraction like an idea or a premonition.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Can you give an example? You don't have to quote something, just a paraphrase, for context.

    Here I would suggest that the word is being used as its original meaning, just metaphorically. Or virtually.

    The idea was so clear, it was virtually palpable.
     
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Aye, "the tension was palpable" and so forth. The tension was so thick that you could almost touch it.
    It means more than simply being clear, and other than a possible increase in usage, I'm not sure its being used incorrectly. Although its possibly a cliched expression now.
     

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