The Work Husband and I were having a conversation about wine this afternoon, and I made some comment about a bottle he’d mentioned costing “upwards of $50”. (The price was $44.95.) Which is to say, in my mind, the wine cost between $40 and $50. He replied, essentially saying I was on crack, and asking how “upwards of $50” was supposed to mean less than $50, and whether this was some Grey County slang, or if he’d apparently learned English in a Portuguese leper colony. (His turns of phrase are but one reason he is one of the world’s more wonderful men.) You see, to him, “upwards of $50” means more than $50, so between $50 and $60. (To me, that would be “upwards from $50.)
A quick poll revealed a split response. The first person we asked, our boss, had the same opinion as I did, so if I’m smoking crack, at least I’m sharing. Most other people I asked, however, agreed with the Work Husband’s definition. A couple of dictionary-type web site links were produced to show his definition as being the correct one. However, I replied by showing him news headlines pulled from Google, which would tend to support my argument.
Now, it’s not that I actually care about being right in this case. Obviously there’s more than enough support for his stance to give it weight. I just think it’s all fascinating. It’s just one of those phrases I’d never considered having multiple meanings, which then led me to wonder if perhaps it’s one of those phrases that’s undergoing etymological evolution, and is coming to mean the exact opposite of what it used to mean. (And, if so, which is the older version?)
In any case, I welcomed him to be right (which of course sucked all the joy of victory out if it, heh), and accused Sherry and her two masters degrees of agreeing with him just to get into his good graces, because she is clearly jealous that I have the best Work Husband and she wants him. 🙂