Discussion in 'English Only' started by Lubislinea, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. Lubislinea Member

    Barcelona, España
    Castellano - Argentina
    Hello Everybody,

    I need you to help me with this word : aloose. I've been searching its meaning everywhere but I could not find it. It is on a Flannery O'connor's short story.

    This is the context:

    Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did."

    Thanks for your help !
  2. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    There is no such proper word, Lubislinea. It is a colloquialism meaning that the criminal is "loose" from prison - he has escaped. This is something that you used to hear in the Southern U.S. (maybe still do for all I know) eg:

    "It ain't afittin' = it isn't fitting
    "She was acryin' like mad" = She was crying.
  3. Lubislinea Member

    Barcelona, España
    Castellano - Argentina
    Thanks so much!

    I imagined that but I supposed that it should have a little hyphen in the middle of it. I mean: a-loose.

    Thanks again Dimcl !
  4. Hogwaump Senior Member

    English - USA
    In early through middle modern English, it was common enough to prefix a word with the letter "a" in order to make some fine distinction in meaning. It derives partly from a Celtic habit of using a word akin to "at" or "on" to render a verb as presently active or eminently active, as opposed to something that happened last week. You still hear it in the modern Irish dialect of English; they are "on" going to the store or "on" sewing their coat, meaning right now. Say those words quickly, and they well might sound like "agoing" and "asewing."
    In general the "a" prefix in English means on, in, at, or in the act of. The distinction in your case is that someone being "loose" could mean that they have lax morals, or their joints are not connected very well and they are wobbly. "Aloose" was more specific, and could only mean "at liberty."
    Over time, many of those commonly prefixed words became standalone words, as in "asleep" and "aboard" and "atop," and earned a place in the modern dictionaries of standard English. Others fell out of usage altogether, usually because the prefix was not really needed to further refine the meaning of a word. "Aloose" falls somewhere in the middle, as does "awalking" and many others. While they are no longer proper words per se, they are still well-known by most native English speakers, and still used by many colloquial speakers. Fifty years ago, in the Appalachian region of the U.S., just about everything was a-something. The went ariding and afishing and apicking apples. They also still used "ye" rather than "you" and old-fashioned constructs such as "aware ye" rather than "beware."
    To say that there is no such proper word as "aloose" is a bit of a stretch. It is no longer in common usage in standard English, yet one might easily encounter it in a wide variety of literature, especially that predating about 1800. On the other hand, saying that it is a proper word is no longer truly correct. Think of it as more along the lines of a contraction with no distinguishing apostrophe, like a'loose, meaning "at loose."
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Note that the problem with imparting wisdom to a thread over four years old is that the original poster is likely to be long gone from the forum, such as is the case here.

    The answer is that the late Ms. O'Connor relied heavily on southern regionalisms.
  6. Hogwaump Senior Member

    English - USA
    I'm inclined to reply to old queries if I think I have something to contribute, on the theory that anyone searching for "aloose" (in this case) might well happen on the discussion -- which is exactly how I got here in the first place.

    Your "alot" comment made me chuckle. I don't recall seeing alot alot, but that did remind me of a food store chain, whose logo reads suspiciously like "Save alot."
  7. lecaroussel New Member

    I'm also reading "A good man is hard to find", I met the same problem
  8. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    We have no objection to adding to old threads, for the reasons Hogwaump offers. :)
  9. Bababobo New Member

    English - American
    This is exactly how I came to this site, and now I've joined. So thanks for old queries!

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