wholesale » whole-scale

Variant(s):  wholescale, whole scale

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • In exchange for steep tariff reductions and whole-scale reforms of the Chinese trading system, the United States gives up nothing. (House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing, May 3, 2000)
  • The NACB has called on the government to scrap prescription charges or institute a whole scale reform of the charging system to make sure the poor are not penalised by pricing the pre-payment certificates on a sliding scale. (BBC, July 3, 2001)
  • Shifting the FBI’s focus from criminal prosecution to prevention of future terrorist attacks makes sense, but Congress has a constitutional responsibility to carefully review any whole-scale changes of our federal law enforcement capabilities. (Congressman Frank R. Wolf press release, June 5, 2002)
  • Although minor changes in protein conformation have been observed in crystals, for example, a localized pocket in carbonmonoxy myoglobin (Zhu et al. 1992), to the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of whole-scale changes in secondary structure. (Protein Science, May 2004)

Analyzed or reported by:

This is common enough to receive an entry in the _Oxford English Dictionary_, with citations back to 1960:

wholescale, a.

[f. WHOLE a. + SCALE n.3, influenced by WHOLESALE n., a., adv.]

= WHOLESALE a. 5. Cf. full-scale.

1960 B. BERGONZI in F. Kermode Living Milton x. 168 Leavis’s case..is not a mere critical reappraisal of Milton, but a whole-scale demolition. [etc.]

It’s not surprising that as _wholesale_ moves away from its original mercantile usage to a more figurative sense of extensiveness, the _-sale_ element would be reinterpreted as _-scale_ to match _full-scale_, _large-scale_, _broad-scale_, etc.

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/07/01 |

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