Sea Change

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Surely you have noticed that “changes” exist no longer. Every change has been transformed into a “sea change.” Here is the first noted use of the phrase (it has since lost its hyphen) from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (1611):

Full fathom five thy father lies,

        Of his bones are coral made:

       Those are pearls that were his eyes:

        Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

As you can see, that segment describes a major transformation, which is, indeed, what “sea change” means. Switching your brand of toothpaste is not a sea change, nor is taking your vacation in August rather than in June, as you have done until now.

“Sea change” has become a buzzword, particularly common in politics and advertising. Because of its frequent use, it will likely become the go-to phrase to indicate any change, no matter how trivial. You may be OK with that; I’m not. Not yet.

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3 Comments

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

3 responses to “Sea Change

  1. That is the first I have heard that expression.
    Very interesting!!!!
    And it makes sense that it would mean an all encompassing change. Very cool.

    Like

    • Cindy, I am amazed that you haven’t heard this or read it uncountable numbers of times. Now that I have brought it up, I’m betting you’re going to encounter it daily.

      I’m so glad you read my blog and take the time to comment. Thanks!

      Like

      • Judy, I am amazed too!! Or perhaps I read it but it never really made an impression on me 🙂
        When I find the time, I really enjoy reading your blog!!

        Have an Awesome Day!
        -Cindy

        Like

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