lost

Today’s Bizarro, continuing Piraro’s ambiguity theme:

PST lost of the transitive verb lose, used here in a specialized subsense of a ‘be deprived of’ sense. From NOAD2:

be deprived of (a close relative or friend) through their death or as a result of the breaking off of a relationship: she lost her husband in the fire.

This in contrast to an ‘unable to find’ sense:

become unable to find (something or someone): I’ve lost the car keys.

How do we work out that these two senses intersect in the cartoon?

First, we have to recognize the setting as an awards ceremony — like the Oscars ceremony, which (not coincidentally) takes place today. And we have to know that a customary part of such ceremonies is one in which notable people who have died during the year are honored, typically with photos of them or video clips of their work.

Then we have to recognize the honoree depicted on the screen: the Waldo (British Wally) of the Where’s Waldo / Wally children’s books, in which

Readers are challenged to find a character named [Waldo / Wally] hidden in the group. [Waldo’s / Wally’s] distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to recognise, but many illustrations contain “red herrings” involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects.

(from a Wikipedia article as quoted in an 8/3/13 posting of mine on, among other things, Where’s Waldo). That is, Waldo is lost (in the crowd) and you are challenged to find him. So: both lost ‘deprived of by death’ and lost ‘unable (or very difficult) to be found’.

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