meet, the noun

A reference to a meet in a drug context went by on television a little while ago, and I reflected on this particular nouning of the verb meet. In the context I heard, meeting might have been a possible alternative, but in drug meet I think not. Then I thought of meet in athletic contexts (on its own, or in combinations like swim meet), where meeting won’t do as an alternative.

So it was off to the OED, and its entry for the relevant noun meet (in a draft revision of June 2001). There I found an array of uses.

In sequence:

1. colloq. a. A meeting, an appointment. Also (now chiefly Austral.): an assignation, a date with a boyfriend or girlfriend. [cites from 1804 on]

b. spec. A meeting of criminals, a meeting with a supplier of illegal drugs. Also: a meeting-place, esp. one used by criminals. [from 1865 on]

2. a. A gathering of riders and hounds for a hunt; a hunt. [from 1838]

b. An organized event at which a number of athetic or other sporting contests are help. Now also: any organized social gathering of a society, club, etc. [from 1893]

3. a. Geom. A point, line, or surface of intersection. [from 1893]

b. Math. The intersection of two or more sets; (also) the infimum of two or more elements of a lattice. [from 1933]

Interpreting such arrays of senses is difficult. Are we dealing with fresh nounings in different contexts? Or are some of the senses specializations of earlier senses?

1b is plausibly a specialization of 1a, as the sub-entry numbering would suggest. The numbering also puts together the two mathematical uses, which is plausible; perhaps a historian of mathematics could say something about the relationship between the two uses.

6 Responses to “meet, the noun”

  1. mollymooly Says:

    Then I thought of meet in athletic contexts (on its own, or in combinations like swim meet), where meeting won’t do as an alternative.

    In US English, of course; Brits and Irish have athletics meetings and swimming galas. We likes our gerunds, we does.

  2. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    Missing from the list is “meet cute” , which seems more akin to your drug-meet.

  3. MWarhol Says:

    I recall the word being used in that context in William Burroughs’s novel Naked Lunch, published in 1959. Drugs play a big part in the novel, although this exchange isn’t about drugs specifically:

    “I come near wigging with that green stuff all over me, and he stink like
    a old rotten cantaloupe.”

    “Well it’s still an easy score.”

    The boy signed resignedly; “Yes, I guess you can get used to anything.
    I’ve got a meet with him again tomorrow.”

  4. James D Says:

    [stir] Well, is “meet cute” a noun-phrase or a verb and an adverb? 😉

  5. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    Re: meet-cute: both. But its primary use seems to be as a noun.

  6. Postings on nounings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] AZBlog, 12/22/09: meet, the noun (link) […]

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