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This week we’ll enjoy some oxymorons – or more precisely, oxyomora. Many will be familiar, and the intrigue lies in realizing that each is an oxymoron.

We open with one from the corporate-takeover world of last week’s theme. Despite the . name, there is nothing gentle or “tender” about a tender offer. On the contrary, it is the usual method used for a hostile takeover.

tender offer – a general, public offer to buy a firm’s stock at a premium price

The offer is made directly to the firm's shareholders, though the firm’s management will often express its view. Our quote, from a novel, illustrates the conflict.
    Centrus Corp.'s tender offer was, upon Lord's advice, rejected by the board of directors. However, all indications pointed to overwhelming acceptance of the offer by the shareholders … .
    – David Baldacci, Absolute Power
 
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I must disagree. Many tender offers are just that, a tender to holders, without any hostility.
 
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Valentine is quite correct.

From Etymonline.com: "to offer formally," 1542, from M.Fr. tendre "to offer, hold forth" (11c.), from L. tendere "to stretch, extend" (see tenet)."

It is quite tender to shareholders to offer more than the current price.

It is only (self-regarding) management that spurns such bids.

In fact, I ask the membership of Wordcraft in its collective wisdom if it can find even one instance of such a bid that was NOT in the shareholders' interest.

(Naturally enough the vast majority of tender offers are contrary to the interests of entrenched management. Economists call this clear conflict the "agency problem.")


RJA
 
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Tender offer is a redundancy.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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*smiles*

Yes, as is "pizza pie..."

That's why S.E.C. regs only refer to a "tender."


RJA
 
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The '34 Act, as well as its regulations, refer to tender offers very often.

That's because the authors were reflecting current usages. They weren't etymologists.

And don't forget that many tender offers aren't intended to change management at all. Tender offers for debt securities are a prime example. A perhaps better example is issuer tender offers, in which management simply wants to reduce the number of shares outstanding.
 
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... or, it could mean to propose a settlement of cash (or close parallel), ie to offer "legal tender". As opposed to, say, a stock offer.

Sorry gang, it isn't an oxymoron, just sounds like it.
 
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I agree. It's not an oxymoron, which is a figure of speech where two apparently contradictory terms are joined together, such as "deafening silence". Since "tender" means "offer" we have what is pretty much the antonym of an oxymoron: tautology.


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In fact, I ask the membership of Wordcraft in its collective wisdom if it can find even one instance of such a bid that was NOT in the shareholders' interest.


Over what time period? I could give you dozens of examples of tender offers that resulted in a take-over that ultimately resulted in the bankruptcy (or greatly diminished value) of the company.

Another group would be tender offers that were unsuccessful, but resulted in other corporate actions that proved to be disastrous. One might even argue that every failed tender offer was not in the best interests of the stockholders. If it were, it would not have failed.

Your question also assumes that the shareholders are a monolithic block. An offer that is deemed good by some may be vehemently opposed by others, for reasons that are unrelated to management.

I think some here may be insufficiently distinguishing a tender offer from a proxy battle. Proxy battles are usually solely about changing management, or its practices - tender offers aren't. A company that makes a tender offer for another may simply want to take it over for strategic purposes, and very often needs to keep present management in place.
 
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The word piano is a shortened form of today’s word.

pianoforte – a piano
[from Italian, where piano and forte mean “soft” and “loud”. The instrument was so called because, unlike the harpsichord, its tones were not of unvarying loudness.]

Darwin on “instinct”:
    If Mozart, instead of playing the pianoforte at three years old with wonderfully little practice, had played a tune with no practice at all, he might truly be said to have done so instinctively.
    – Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species
 
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Is that oxymoronic? It is possible for an instrument to play soft and loud, even if it's not possible for a note to be soft and loud simultaneously.

I would regard as oxymoronic a phrase like "quad bike", where the first word contradicts and makes impossible the second.

Quad is an abbreviation for quadricycle - a cycle with four wheels. Bike is abbreviation for bicycle - a cycle with two wheels. Thus a quad bike must be a four-wheeled two-wheeler - an impossibility.


Richard English
 
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Richard:

In analogy to "quad-carburetors" and similar usages, my first thought on a quad-bike was four frames, eight wheels total...


RJA
 
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As an abbreviation for a quadrupled bike, having, as you say, four frames and eight wheels, it would not be oxymoronic. But I'd not care to try to ride the thing!


Richard English
 
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I can remember, when I was kid, going on holiday with my parents to Norfolk. A couple of times they'd hire a peculiar contraption. It was essentially two tandem bikes with wooden planks as seats slung between them. The two handlebars were also replaced with one that turned both front wheels.

There was enough room for four adults with two of them pedalling fore and aft, and two taking their ease as passengers.

I can't believe they are in use anywhere now - it was rare to meet a car in the narrow country lanes in those days.


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I've seen those things. I seem to recall they often inhabited Butlin's and Pontin's and establishments of that nature...


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Problem with labelling 'quad bike' as an oxymoron is 'bike' itself has taken on a more general usage than the word it was shortened from. It's like the bit on how squares and rectangles relate, anymore: all bicycles are bikes, but not all bikes are bicycles.

+ Training Bikes (bikes with training wheels)
+ Uni-, Tri-, Quadri- (etc) cycles
+ Tandems (two inline) & sociables (two together)
+ Multibikes (usu. 'tandems' for 3 or more)
+ Recumbent bikes (ride lying back)
+ Motorcycles (s/a sidecars)
+ Trike ATVs
+ Excercise bikes
+ 'Waterbikes' (floats, paddles for wheels)
+ Cycle rickshaws & velotaxis
+ Some hybrid vendor carts that permanently replace back wheel with the cart (instead of as separate trailer)
 
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Sounds like you two are refering to homemade cycle rickshaws, though most of them only have one 'bike' up front.

Edit: these may be more familiarly known as 'pedicabs'
 
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The absolute most amusing/dangerous version of which is the Thai "tuk-tuk."

http://www.thaiworldview.com/travel/travel9.htm

The driver began to invite my trade, but soon realizing the risk of a client 6'/198, smiled and ducked away.


RJA
 
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quote:
all bicycles are bikes, but not all bikes are bicycles.

Well they should be. A bi-cycle is a two-wheel vehicle and can't be a trike (3 wheels) or a "wet bike" (no wheels or an exercise bike (no wheels). But tandems, sociables and motorcycles (sans sidecar) are all bikes, like it or not.


Richard English
 
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Think of a 20-year old student: not as all-knowing as he thinks he is; sometimes learned, sometimes childishly foolish. Our name for him is of unclear etymology, but may be a combination of Greek sophos wise + mōros foolish. (You’ve already seen the “foolish” part in moron.)

sophomore – a student in the second year of college (or of a 4-year secondary school)
sophomoric – conceited and overconfident, but exhibiting great immaturity and lack of judgment

Remember how awkward it was to be young and trying to impress the opposite sex?
    If she was interested in me at all, he thought (and God knows why she would be, he added gloomily to himself), I have undoubtedly put paid to that by exposing the full range of my sophomoric wit.
    – Stephen King, The Stand
 
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Yesterday we saw moron, “stupid”. Today’s word combines this with oxy- “sharp” (as in oxygen).

oxymoron – a contradiction in terms (generalized from meaning of “a figure of speech combining two contradictory terms, for emphasis”)

OED tells us that oxymoronic first appeared in 1954. Oh yeah? When Of Mice an Men was published in 1937, a review called it “oxymoronic”.
    George was small, wiry, tough, shrewd; Lennie was enormous, floppy-looking but Herculean, and a halfwit. George and Lennie were pals. Americans whose eyes are still smarting from the unhappy ending of the Wall Street fairy tale of 1929 may even overlook the fact that it too is a fairy tale. An oxymoronic combination of the tough & tender, Of Mice and Men will appeal to sentimental cynics, cynical sentimentalists. … Readers less easily thrown off their trolley will still prefer Hans Andersen.
    – Time Magazine, March 1, 1937 (ellipses omitted. By the way; Steinbeck's dog ate an early draft manuscript of the book.)
 
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I always thought oxymoron was a dumb bovine.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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black gold – crude oil; unrefined petroleum [Technically “petroleum” means the material in its unrefined state, but “black gold” emphasizes the “as it comes from the ground”.]
    The greatest oil strike in the history of Southern California … ! The inside of the earth seemed to burst out through that hole; a roaring and rushing, as Niagara, and a black column shot up into the air, two hundred feet, two hundred and fifty––no one could say for sure––and came thundering down to earth as a mass of thick, black, slimy, slippery fluid. … Afterwards it was told with Homeric laughter how these women had been heard to lament the destruction of their clothing and their window-curtains by this million-dollar flood of "black gold"!
    – Upton Sinclair, Oil!

Follow-up on our recent words sophomore and sophomoric, the "soph" part meaning "wise":
A reader has drawn our attention to sophomania – unrealistic belief in one's own intelligence; delusion of superintelligence.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
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neoconservative – of or advocating a new or revived form of conservatism
[Greek neo new + Latitn servare to keep, preserve]

The exact meaning, the set of principles deemed “neo-conservative”, changes over time. Dictionaries fear to tread, but I’ll risk saying that it’s usually used to mean a reaction to the liberalism of the 1960s, and that it advocates assertive foreign policy.

I hesitate to offer a quote, because the term is highly charged politically. It's often used as a term of opprobrium by more-liberal speakers.

So I’ll give you an extra word. This term was a previous word-a-day, in another theme, but it is also an oxymoron.

idiot savant – a mentally handicapped person who displays brilliance in a specific area, especially one involving memory [French, 'knowledgeable idiot']
 
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oxymorons

I've always wondered how this rhetorical term became pejorative. Today, after lunch, I looked it up in Lewis and Short. The entry for oxymorus is "acutely silly: oxymora verba, expressions which at first sight appear absurd, but which contain a concealed point; so especially of such apparently contradictory assertions as: cum tacent clamant." The example sentence is from Cicero and means "when they're silent, they're shouting" (link).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Another fairly well-known Latin phrase is festina lente, "make haste slowly".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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The two roots in today’s word mean “before/behind”, which is an absurd and ridiculous contradiction in terms.

preposterous – utterly absurd or ridiculous
[from Latin prae "before" (as in “precede”) + posterus "after" (as in “post-date”).]

Since such a familiar word doesn’t need quotes to illustrate it, we’ll select quotes to amuse.
    … 90 percent of the moving pictures exhibited in America are so vulgar, witless and dull that it is preposterous to write about them in any publication not intended to be read while chewing gum.
    – Wolcott Gibbs

    Take all your dukes and marquesses and earls and viscounts, pack them into one chamber, call it the House of Lords to satisfy their pride and then strip it of all political power. It’s a solution so perfectly elegant and preposterous that only the British could have managed it.
    – Charles Krauthammer, Celebrities in Politics: A Cure

    [H]anging over the lives of every little girl born in the second half of the 20th century was the impossibly curvy shadow (40-18-32 in life-size terms) of Barbie. That preposterous physique, we learn as kids, is what a woman looks like with her clothes off.
    – Anna Quindlen, New York Times, Sept. 10, 1994
 
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I tried but could not resist the temptation to note how "preposterous" calls to mind the inversion of head and tail...


RJA
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Arvanitis:
I tried but could not resist the temptation to note how "preposterous" calls to mind the inversion of head and tail...

Right you are!
quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
... such a familiar word doesn’t need quotes to illustrate it ...

Not in it's common present-day meaning. Here are the etymology and definitions of preposterous from the OED Online:

  • [< classical Latin praeposterus placed in the wrong order, inverted, unseasonable, wrong-headed, perverse (< prae- PRE- prefix + posterus later, next: see POSTERO- comb. form) + -OUS suffix. Compare Middle French prepostere placed in a wrong and unjust order (1462; French {dag}prépostère disordered (1611 in Cotgrave)), Italian prepostero placed in the wrong order (a1498).]

  • 1. a. Having or placing last what should be first; inverted in position or order. Now rare. - attested from 1533.
    Includes 1589 citation: G. PUTTENHAM Arte Eng. Poesie III. xxii. 213 The preposterous is a pardonable fault... We call it by a common saying to set the carte before the horse.

  • 1. b. Of an animal: having parts reversed in position, going tail first. rare. Now arch. - attested from 1661

  • 2. Contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; monstrous; foolish, perverse. Now chiefly: utterly absurd or ridiculous; outrageous. - attested from 1533


The latest citation in 1. a.: 1993 Poetics Today 14 612 The literally preposterous order of Pindaric narrative is an expression at the level of the account of the Homeric trope of prothysteron. And in 1. b.: a1680 S. BUTLER in Wit's Mag. 2 (1785) 136/1 He [sc. the hen-pecked man] is a kind of preposterous animal, that being curbed in, goes with his tail forwards.

Online Etymology dictionary:
c.1540, from L. præposterus "absurd, contrary to nature," lit. "before-behind" (cf. topsy-turvy, cart before the horse), from præ "before" + posterus "subsequent."

So, it's not such a preposterous word after all!
 
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to set the carte before the horse
Equines are being given menus?


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