2009年2月27日 星期五

in the offing, lobby (PERSUADE)

"A revolution of the hungry is in the offing," said Mohammed el-Askalani of Citizens Against the High Cost of Living, a protest group established to lobby against ending the subsidies.




Hundreds of plant workers have been idled, and more layoffs are in the offing. “We have followed market principles and been faithful to our American customers,” said Wu Jingsheng, the Weifang plant’s gruff general manager. “Our workers don’t know why they are being treated this way.”

lobby
(PERSUADE) Show phonetics
verb [I or T]
to try to persuade a politician, the government or an official group that a particular thing should or should not happen, or that a law should be changed:
Small businesses have lobbied hard for/against changes in the tax laws.
[+ to infinitive] Local residents lobbied to have the factory shut down.
[+ object + to infinitive] They have been lobbying Congress to change the legislation concerning guns.

lobby Show phonetics
noun [C]
a group of people who try to persuade the government or an official group to do something:
the anti-smoking lobby

lobbyist Show phonetics
noun [C]
someone who tries to persuade a politician or official group to do something:
Lobbyists for the tobacco industry have expressed concerns about the restriction of smoking in public places.

in the offing likely to happen soon:
With an election in the offing, the prime minister is keen to maintain his popularity.


In the offing

Meaning

Imminent; likely to happen soon.

Origin

This is one of the many phrases of nautical origin. It is quite simple to understand once you know that 'the offing' is the part of the sea that can be seen from land, excluding those parts that are near the shore. Early texts also refer to it as 'offen' or 'offin'.

Someone who was watching out for a ship to arrive would first see it approaching when it was 'in the offing' and expected to dock before the next tide. Something that is 'in the offing' isn't happening now or even in a minute or two, but will inevitably happen before too long. The phrase has migrated from its naval origin into general use in the language and is now used to describe any event that is imminent.

In its literal nautical sense, the phrase has been in use since the late 16th century and the earliest citation of it that I have found is a quotation from S. Argoll from 1610 which was reported by S. Purchas in Purchas his Pilgrimes, in 1906:

"I came to an Anchor in seven fathomes water in the offing to sea."

The phrase wasn't commonly used until the beginning of the 18th century, as in this example from Josiah Burchett's Memoirs of Transactions at Sea During the War with France, 1703. This is, incidentally, a classic example of the use of the long form of the letter 's' in 18th century printing:

...fome other fmall Ships were feen in the Offing. Thofe Ships ftood away with their Boats a-head, fetting fire to fome, and deftroying and deferting other of their fmall veffels.

All of the 18th century citations of 'in the offing' refer to the offing as a physical place. It wasn't until the mid 19th century, in America, that our presently understood figurative meaning began to be used. An early example of that comes in S. B. Beckett's Portland Reference Book and City Directory, 1850:

We have known wives to forget that they had husbands when they supposed that a tax bill or a notification to do military duty was in the offing.

See also - Nautical Phrases.



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