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Old 02-16-2012, 11:23 AM
Location: Toronto
3,338 posts, read 5,322,734 times
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There's a, perhaps you could say, idiom or figure of speech, that I encounter every once in a while in articles, the phrase "the pendulum swung in the other way, or other direction" as meaning the attitudes/patterns of a society or the world reversing direction as the times change.

For example, in the pre-industrial age, being tanned by the sun was associated with hard outdoor/field work and not favourable, but then the pendulum swung the other way, and tanning became a popular way of showing off your wealth/luxury when most people worked indoors and vacation/outdoor time was a marker of status.

Anyone know how it (the pendulum swinging metaphor for the changing times, and reversing of the fashions) became popularized or its origin?
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:37 AM
Location: Pittsburgh
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According to the OED:

II. Extended uses. 3.
a. fig. A person who or thing which oscillates between different or opposite positions, as public opinion, personal feeling, a fashion, etc.; an imagined register or measure of such oscillation.

1765 J. Otis Vindic. Brit. Colonies 20 To atone for this indelicacy, the next moment the pendulum vibrates as far the other way.
1769 ‘Junius’ Stat Nominis Umbra (1772) I. xii. 83 Is this the wisdom of a great minister? or is it the‥vibration of a pendulum?
1818 Byron Childe Harold iv. cix. 57 Man! Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear.
1836 Penny Cycl. V. 300/1 The pendulum of opinion swings to the side opposite to that on which it has been unduly brought out of its position of equilibrium.
1877 H. James American ii. 33, I dare say that a twelvemonth hence the operation will be reversed. The pendulum will swing back again.
1900 Westm. Gaz. 8 Nov. 4/2 The moral of the Canada elections is that there is no swing left in the Pendulum anywhere.
1996 Grocer 23 Mar. 13/1 Just as western brands are waking up to the huge opportunities in Russia, the pendulum of consumer opinion may be swinging against them.
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