cost » caused

Chiefly in:   caused someone his/her job, life, etc.

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • After speaking with Mr. Webb, I had nothing but more problems and it eventually caused me my job. (Rip Off Report, Oct. 16, 2002)
  • Dan refused to assert his rights, knowing it was his HIV status that caused him his job. (Dept. of Labor and Employment, Republic of the Philippines, Jan. 5, 2004)
  • Ogbeh’s bilious letter to the president which consequently caused him his job was a grand plan by the Atiku camp to distance itself, from the perceived sins, and if you like, failures of the Obasanjo administration. (Biafra Nigeria World News, Mar. 2, 2005)
  • I have no doubt that her habit of returning items to stores in which they were not purchased, and years after acquiring them, may have caused more than one clerk a reprimand, if not a job. (New York Times Magazine, Letters, Oct. 16, 2005)
  • He feels bold to talk about Kargil, an initiative that nearly caused him his life, burial of democracy in Pakistan, and much military and diplomatic embarrassment to his nation. (The Tribune, Chandigarh, India, Apr. 1, 2005)
  • I have to admit that I found it hard to see how the intersection was truly that dangerous, but I hadn’t realized how fast he was going, and especially with the setting sun on a silver car, I can see how his recklessness caused him his life. (Michael Manning blog comment, Oct. 1, 2005)
  • One bad decision, which no one knows better than he, has caused him his family. (Talk Left blog comment, Nov. 15, 2003)
  • I lost my best friend and fiancée to an oversight in a system that caused him his freedom for life. (RemedyFind review, Aug. 15, 2002)

Analyzed or reported by:

Marked questionable, since as Arnold Zwicky writes in the ADS-L thread, this looks “blendish rather than eggcornish” — perhaps blending caused X to lose his job (etc.) with cost X his job (etc.). (The example from the New York Times Magazine, which sparked the ADS-L discussion, is further complicated by the coordination with caused X a reprimand.)

[Edited on 25 Oct 2005 to incorporate new examples suggested by Brenda Shaw.]

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/10/17 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Brenda Shaw , 2005/10/25 at 7:29 pm

    Are there any examples of things that “caused him his life” or “caused him his freedom”?

  2. 2

    Commentary by Ben Zimmer , 2005/10/25 at 8:08 pm

    Indeed — thanks for the suggestion. The entry has been edited accordingly.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Russell , 2006/03/30 at 10:44 pm

    Back in ‘04 I noticed this (and Mark Liberman posted about it on LL), with non-preterite uses:

  4. 4

    Commentary by Ivar Svensen , 2006/04/27 at 10:31 am

    Cost is described in the dictionary as to cause to lose, hence just cause does not make any sense.

    Even if usage defines a language, there should be some logical sense applied.

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