When Bob Dylan said ‘pre-existing’ commitments, he was using a 16th cent word

by Rashmee

Posted on November 18, 2016

pre-existing-conditionsWhen Bob Dylan said “pre-existing commitments” will prevent him from picking up his Nobel Prize in person in Stockholm, he used at least one word too many. The “pre” in “pre-existing”. It’s not required.

“Pre-existing” is a tautology in two halves of one word. “Existing” means to exist already. So does “pre-existing”. But the word has become newly fashionable especially in news stories in the last few years. I think it happened because of the insurance industry’s focus on “pre-existing” conditions. Insurers don’t like to cover people who have them but President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act insists that “pre-existing” conditions should not be used to deny coverage.

So everything is about pre-existing “commitments” (Bob Dylan’s); pre-existing “agreements” (for New Yorkers who wanted to change the name of their building from Trump Place); pre-existing “terrorist networks” (ISIS).

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word “pre-existing” was in 1585.

Surely that’s no reason for it to continue?

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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