single » signal

Chiefly in:   signal out

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Sure, there are some annoying past-bonus contract issues involved, and some of the individuals signaled out for retention may not be the right ones to get them. (Roy C. Smith,, Mar. 17, 2009)
  • While the president may hope for a short bankruptcy, it may not be that simple, especially with those creditors that Obama signaled out for not cooperating. (Jake Tapper et al., ABC News, Apr. 30, 2009)
  • We, the boys, were cruel to each other, a prerequisite for getting through the school day — either it was you who would get the leather strap or the petrified boy sitting next to you, and his being signaled out for the bout of perversity gave you a reprieve, if only a temporary one. (Padraig O'Malley, Boston Globe, May 27, 2009)
  • But in a parting political shot, he signaled out Republican leadership who he said have promised nothing but more “heated rhetoric.” (Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30, 2010)
  • First it was the far right, which signaled out “Spongebob” for promoting a gay and global-warming agendas. (Daniel Frankel, Reuters/The Wrap, Sep. 11, 2011)
  • District Attorney Mike Ramsey refiled the child abuse counts only against Bram, who asserted she was being signaled out for breast-feeding toddler Thor and newborn Zeus while using pot. (Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, June 12, 2012)
  • He told the commission that 70% of campaign money is not reported at the provincial level – without signaling out any political party. (Michael Qaqish,, June 26, 2012)

Analyzed or reported by:

Pat Schwieterman notes that H. W. Fowler long ago warned of confusion between single and signal. From the 1944 American edition of Modern English Usage:

Unfortunately, there is just nearness enough in meaning between the verb single on the one hand &, on the other, the adjective signal & the verb signalize to make it easy for the uncharitable to suspect writer rather than printer; & therefore especial care is called for, as with deprecate & depreciate.

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2012/06/28 |

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