Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: seven seas.

seven seas. This figurative term has been used since antiquity, but its meaning has varied among cultures. To the ancient Romans, the “seven seas” were a group of saltwater lagoons near what is now Venice. At about the same time, the Persians called the streams that flowed into the Oxus River the “seven seas.” Much later in Europe, the “seven seas” were the North, the White, the Baltic, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and the Black Seas. In modern usage, the term denotes all the planet’s seas and oceans, not any seven in particular — e.g.: “‘If they want to sail the seven seas, the Air Force can’t give them that.'” Lindsay Tozer, “First Coast Military Recruiters Say Navy Not the Only Option,” Fla. Times-Union, 21 July 2001, at B1 (quoting M.Sgt. Alister Alford, a recruiter). For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The teaching of Latin grammar and the study of Latin literature were perhaps the two most important aspects in the history of language study for promoting the development of misleading principles of analysis in traditional grammars.” David Crystal, Linguistics 52 (1971).
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