Bloomberg, “The Surprisingly Long History of the Fiscal Cliff”

November 29, 2012

Stephen L. Carter, “The Surprisingly Long History of the Fiscal Cliff” (Bloomberg View, Nov. 29, 2012)

Ben Zimmer, who writes the language column for the Boston Globe and dug up the Kingston essay, has pointed to a 1957 use of “fiscal cliff,” in a slightly different context, from the New York Times. But what was new in the 1950s was only the addition of the word “fiscal.” The use of the word “cliff,” modified by an adjective, has long been a metaphor for economic distress. …

We can go back further. Zimmer noted an 1893 editorial in the Chicago Tribune: “The free silver shriekers are striving to tumble the United States over the same fiscal precipice.”

Read the rest here. (Related Word Routes column)

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