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The poetry of numbers: you are so 404!

"Twenty-four seven," or 24/7, the term we used on the facing page, is one entry in a three-page addendum to the gigantic New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, edited by Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor (Routledge). Having exhausted the alphabet, the dictionary offers a closing catalog of slang expressions derived from numbers. "Twenty-four seven" is identified as an adverb meaning "all the time," along with its intensive form: "Twenty-four seven, three-sixty-five." Of course, not all the numbers come from the calendar or clock. A "one eighty-seven" is a homicide, derived from the California penal code number for that crime, often used as shorthand on police radio; by extension, it also means "No chance" or "Any possibility is dead." Information technology remains a fruitful source ("four-one-one" means "gossip" or "information"), but as usual the best words come from technology's failures. The adjective "four-o-four," meaning "mentally lost, very unaware," refers to the Internet message that pops up when your computer can't find the Internet address you're looking for: "404, URL not found."

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Title Annotation:New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
Publication:The Wilson Quarterly
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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