Jettison

fitter.happier

Senior Member
Italian
Hi everyone.

I'm particularly interested in this verb used in academic contexts with the meaning of discarding/rejecting (a theory, an idea).

Is it readily understood? Does it sound pretentious? Also, is it equally used in both British and American English? I'm asking this because I heard it in a lecture given by an American professor, so I was wondering whether it was common on the other side of the pond too.

Thanks in advance :)
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Discarding, yes; rejecting, maybe not -- it depends on the location of the theory: inside the mind or not yet entered. You can only jettison something you already have on board. So if it's a theory that's been accepted, you can jettison it; if it's a theory that someone is floating toward your boat, you can blow it out of the water. :)

    That's my opinion, anyway.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    "Jettison" is a maritime term meaning to throw cargo overboard to lighten a ship in danger. Applied literally as a metaphor, it would have to apply, as copyright says, to a theory one already "has," i.e., one that has been accepted for some time but now is being discarded or newly rejected.

    My bet is that it is being used "properly," but not very many college professors have experience as professional mariners, so you will have to be sensitive to the context. "Jettison old theories" or "existing theories" would meet copyright's standard.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Though I think the verb "jettison" is widely understood among literate English-speakers, I can't see any particular advantage in using it. We have so many synonyms that cover the same idea that it doesn't seem necessary to use a verb borrowed from maritime language.
     

    dropscone

    New Member
    French
    Hi,
    I'd like to understand the following phrase "As a Somali, he applied for asylum and was jettisoned into adulthood." I can't see why they use jettison. It doesn't mean discarded / thrown away or something similar, does it?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I would prefer to see "He was propelled into adulthood". (Jet-propelled, perhaps?) I see "jettisoned" as a malapropism.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I thought 'catapulted'. I cannot see any way of getting from that to jettisoned, except that the writer might have thought 'jettison' was something done with some force. It isn't, of course; you simply drop what you jettison over the side.
     

    dropscone

    New Member
    French
    Thanks a lot for your answers. Velisarius, in particular, you confirmed my hunch because "propelled" was exactly what I told my student when she asked me about this sentence in this paragraph.

    I found another recent example using nearly the same structure in a BBC article about Falcon Heavy : "The Falcon Heavy's boosters burned for 154 seconds before they jettisoned into space" The man who sent his sports car into space
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I found another recent example using nearly the same structure in a BBC article about Falcon Heavy : "The Falcon Heavy's boosters burned for 154 seconds before they jettisoned into space" The man who sent his sports car into space
    That usage is entirely correct, That meaning (but not the usage — see Andygc's post below) is correct, using the original, literal meaning of jettison; at least, it would be if they were old-style rocket boosters which just crashed to earth, I am not entirely sure it is appropriate for the guided self-propelled boosters the Falcon Heavy uses.
    In either case, the meaning is dropped or detached, not propelled.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Sorry, Jack, but that usage qoted is not entirely correct. "Jettison" is a transitive verb and the sentence should be "... before they were jettisoned into space ..." Fortunately, that is what the text at the link says, not as quoted by dropscone. Perhaps the BBC editors spotted the error after dropscone quoted the news item.
     

    dropscone

    New Member
    French
    Sorry, Jack, but that usage qoted is not entirely correct. "Jettison" is a transitive verb and the sentence should be "... before they were jettisoned into space ..." Fortunately, that is what the text at the link says, not as quoted by dropscone. Perhaps the BBC editors spotted the error after dropscone quoted the news item.
    Indeed, they checked the text later. (Belated) thanks for your answer. :)
     
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