Several times I've corrected people on the internet only to have them come back at me swinging a dictionary. Of course, these are often online democratic dictionaries. The argument goes like this:

Me: Such-and-such is wrong--it doesn't follow from basic principles and contradicts common sense.

Other: http://www. some dictionary. com English is a funny thing. You can get a lot of different phrases that mean different things. [Insert further non-sequiturs here.]

At that point I recognize that this person is a lost cause, and I don't bother responding.

The best single example I can remember of this is "close minded" or its half-brother "close-minded". I have yet to see "clothes minded", thankfully. Properly, this should be "closed-minded", the hyphen indicating the link between "closed" and "mind" while the term made of their union effectively gets an "-ed" added to its whole body. ("He has a closed mind; thus, he is closed-minded.")

In the transition--as though it really was one--from being used correctly to being used incorrectly, the hyphen was dropped by the masses because they are scared by hyphens and feel that hyphens are liberals that love abortions and gays. The D got dropped for the reason because of which the old "damned" became the modern "damn" in certain contexts. Understanding this is like understanding rape--I both get it and wish it would never happen.

It's clear that the employers of "close minded" mean for "close" to be read as the verb, since that's the product of the dissociation of the D from "closed"; however, this never stops me from reading aloud "close minded" with the adjective with a soft S, leaving the phrase a ridiculable shadow of its former self that is clearly the equal of "nearby-minded" or, when "close minded" is written and lacks a hyphen, more like "minded somewhere around here".

I keep seeing person after person bow down to this crushing tide of laziness (on more topics than "close minded") and incompetence, and it keeps reminding me of the religious craziness that's been going on in Europe, strangely. So what official verdict is there on this from basic principles?

Tags: close minded, close-minded, closed minded, closed-minded

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Replies to This Discussion

I wasn't sure about this one after he brought it up. I can see how anyone can think "closed-minded" is acceptable, though. Based on your explanation, I guess I can see how the double "ed" would be redundant. Kind of like saying "mothers-in-laws" or "passers-bys." You don't need to pluralize all the words, just the primary noun (if that's the right term).
Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Don. It helped my mind coming out of the closet.
So it's just from tradition, then? I've actually never seen "close-lipped" or "close-mouthed", myself.

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