Sunday, May 21, 2023

“Negatived” in Charles Dicken’s “Little Dorrit” (1857) and “Our Mutual Friend” (1865)

In Charles Dicken's "Our Mutual Friend" (1865), when Mr. and Mrs. Boffin discuss how to find an orphan to adopt, one of Mrs. Boffins's suggestions is "negatived" by her husband. The verb form of "negative" surprised me, as I would have thought it was more recent than that (which is an example of the "recency illusion"). But the verb form of the adjective "negative" goes back to the early eighteenth century, and it also appears in Dickens's "Little Dorrit" (1857). Again, it involves a rejection of alternatives, now proposed by Jeremiah Flintwich to explain the mysterious sounds his wife is hearing: "Mistress Affery negatived each with a shake of her head." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 May 2023) 

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