Giving us the round down

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Another problem of attributional abduction, this one from Josh Marshall, "So How'd it go?", TPM 7/31/2010:

Our reporting duo gives us the round down of just what happened at today's pro-diversity 'Uni-Tea' Tea Party rally in Philadelphia.

This could be an eggcorn — "round down" for "run down" does seem to be out there, though it's not very common:

Well, without futher ado, let me give you the round down.
Im still a newb, but I saw that nobody replied, so I thought I could give you the 'round down' on it.

It could be a cupertino — maybe Josh  typed "rund own", added the missing 'd' to get "rund down", and then got bushwacked by his spellchecker. Or something like that.

And it could be a joke, that is, a sort of eggcorn-on-purpose. After all, a quick run-down is a sort of metaphorical rounding down to an integer summary of a more elaborated real-numbered event.

Other hypotheses exist as well, including the ubiquitous infiltrators from the Onion.


  1. groki said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    i say joke: "round up" could have been used to mean summary, but since the numbers were laughably smaller than predicted ("borderline disaster"), Josh is inverting the direction to elbow us in the ribs. (he's "Joshin" maybe?)

  2. bloix said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    Note the possible subconscious influence of "round-up."

  3. Dick Margulis said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    Or this could be dictation software, as in the speculation about "eke out." A Philadelphian saying "run down" might sound like he was saying "round down" to naive voice recognition software that wasn't acclimated to the local vowel sounds.

  4. Mark Beadles said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

    Confusion of the synonyms "round-up" and "low-down"?

  5. Chris Brockett said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

    As an avid long-time TPM reader, I concur with groki. Josh is punning on "round up". This is especially clear when one reads the underlying article.

  6. figleaf said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

    I think groki has the correct answer: "round-down" would be consistent with Josh Marshal's low-key snark. The declared intention of the rally was to demonstrate that the teabaggers are a) overwhelmingly popular and b) unrecognized bastions of racial diversity. Instead turnout was in the low three figures and decidedly non-diverse. After sending two reporters to cover an ultimately underwhelming event, "round down" is almost certainly an intentional, editorializing play on words.


  7. Terry said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

    I think its a play on words with a very useful and (I suspect) intended meaning. Reports from partisan political events like this, especially if they come from the organizers, habitually inflate the turn out. At minimum, they round up on the number of participants, and often they pump them up in some more egregious way. "Round-down" in this context means, I take it, dragging the numbers (and the level of enthusiasm) of the participants back to reality on the basis of observations of unbiased (or differently biased) people who were on the seen.

  8. Ben Zimmer said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    I vote for attempted wordplay inverting roundup, on the model of lowlights as a facetious inversion of highlights.

  9. hum said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

    Did they serve horse devours?

  10. Lazar said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

    OT, but I thought that LL had been down for several days (and have only just now discovered otherwise) because the url I have bookmarked,, no longer works. Is this elegant address gone forever?

  11. Lee Stweasel said,

    August 2, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    Whatever he meant, I like the expression. It's fun to say. I will use it whenever possible.

  12. Mashup Guy said,

    August 12, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    Certainly seems like a play on words. Here are the two scenarios in my mind: He's using 'round' as a noun that refers to an interval of time and 'down' as an adjective for when you understand something, or; He's using 'round' as a noun that refers to beer and 'down' as a verb for when you drink something.

  13. Joe 1959 said,

    August 24, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    I suspect Ben Zimmer has the correct answer, but another possibility that occurred to me was a humorous blend of "run down" and "round up".

    Off topic I know, but I happened to be at Independence Park on the day in question – I was on vacation with my family (white Scottish / English). Whilst we stood in line to see the Liberty Bell, the Tea Party amply displayed their pro-diversity 'Uni-Tea' stance by handing us a flyer for their event, whilst completely ignoring the Spanish-speaking family in front (who may actually have been US Citizens).

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