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Rosie Right

Get a fork, it's done

At first glance, Rosie was not at all sure we were correct, but apparently this usage passes muster, though it seems a bit informal.

Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, tells us that done is an adjective that means "completed, ended."

The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style opines: "done (=finished), when used as an adjective, is sometimes criticized, but the word has been so used since the 19th century (call me when you're done). Many stylists prefer through (call me when you're through)."

And the handy Webster's Dictionary of English Usage comes down on the side of done: "Done in the sense of `finished' has been subject to a certain amount of criticism over the years for reasons that are not readily apparent. The use of done as an adjective in this sense dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, but the construction usually objected to — be done — is of more recent origin. … from the second half of the 18th century. The earliest objection to be done in our files is from … 1917."

Among the examples of this usage given by the English Usage Dictionary are sentences from Mark Twain and William Faulkner.

Style readily accepts these two as mentors in the use of English.

A word event

Another friend has called attention to a contagious word we can all hear on TV weather reports: Predictions are now often described as events, as in "a snow event" or a "rain event." Rosie's friend thinks this is a bit of hyperbole. It may be, but Random House describes event as "something that happens or is regarded as happening; an occurrence; esp. one of some importance."

We can't, therefore, criticize the usage except to say that the repetition is an example of the way words and phrases spread like the measles. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this.

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), e-mail (repps@styleweekly.com) or letter (c/o Style Weekly, 1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond, Va. 23230)

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