Clean slate

April 11, 2013|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Reading along, I come across a reference to a building being slated for completion, and I stop for a moment after all these years in the paragraph game to wonder: slated?

I knew, of course that slate (v.) means schedule (v.), and a quick resort to the OED confirmed that I knew the origin of the term as well: " To put down (a name, etc.) on a writing-slate; to set down, book, for something. ... Also, to plan, propose, or schedule (an event). Chiefly U.S." Also, "to propose or nominate a candidate for political office; to form a slate of candidates. U.S."

Chiefly U.S., chiefly journalistic, increasingly archaic. Even in public schools in eastern Kentucky in the 1950s and 1960s, we no longer wrote spelling words and sums on slates. Some restaurants still chalk the day's offerings for display, but there doesn't seem to be a great deal of literal slating about these days. 

I'm not questioning that a word can survive its original technological application; I still see occasional references to dialing a telephone number. My question to you, good people, is whether slate for schedule survives mainly as a journalistic usage. Beyond that, whether it ought to be kept on life support outside journalism, since I can't recall ever hearing a civilian using the word. 


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