luke warm [lukewarm / luke-warm -- Forum Mod.]

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luke warm [lukewarm / luke-warm -- Forum Mod.]

Post by hsargent » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:21 pm

Have we discussed the origin of luke warm? I did not find it with a search or in Wikipedia.

We know it means slightly warm and is commonly referring to someone very slight support of an issue. It is typically a slightly negative term.

He was luke warm in his support of the new administration.
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Re: Luke Warm

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Dec 01, 2008 5:00 pm

I did not find it with a search or in Wikipedia.
It is probably a spelling issue: it is normally spelled lukewarm (one word).
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Re: Luke Warm

Post by JANE DOErell » Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:29 pm

Over at phrases.org, which is a site that doesn't excite me very much, it says "' "Luke" was a Middle English word, now obsolete, meaning "warm,"
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Re: Luke Warm

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:41 pm

Jane et al, That’s why for excitement we come to Wordwizard – are you ready?

Harry, You were not alone in thinking that LUKEWARM was two words. I had never given it much thought, but I would probably have written it as two words if put to the test. In searching various archives, I found that those which are not actually page images (those which have used optical character recognition to transcribe) have invariably, automatically and incorrectly changed it to two words (e.g. Time Magazine, . . .). And before I realized that this is what was going on, I had begun to assume that the two-word form, contrary to what the dictionaries had said, was quite common – Let the internet user beware: Caveat internetusertor! However, many other sources did just get it wrong (e.g. see 1952, 1980 quotes ). The British (and some U.S. publications), on the other hand, tend to use the hyphenated form LUKE-WARM. And, historically (see etymology below), it did start out as two words.

LUKEWARM adjective: 1373 luke warm; later leuke-warm (probably before 1425). Lukewarm is a compound adjective based on the now obsolete Middle English luke ‘tepid,’ which is cognate with Low German lūk, tepid, modern Dutch leuk, East Frisian lūk, luke, tepid, weak. It is not altogether clear where this came from, but it is generally assumed to be a derivative of the also now obsolete lew, ‘(fairly) warm,’ with perhaps a diminished suffix. Lew goes back to an Old English hlēow, ‘warm,’ a variant of which became modern English lee, ‘shelter.’ (Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayton, Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology)
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OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

LUKEWARM adjective: 1) Moderately warm, tepid. 2) Of persons, their actions, attributes, etc.: Having little warmth or depth of feeling, lacking zeal, enthusiasm or ardour, indifferent.
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Hmm! ‘Tepid Hand Luke’ doesn’t seem to cut it. But was his hand actually less than tepid or did they just call it that to avoid a less than exciting title?
<circa 1522 “Like as god said in thapocalips vnto the churche of Loadice. Thou arte neyther hote nor cold but luke warme, . . .”—De Quatuor Novissimisin Works of Sir Thomas More, page 83/1>

<1691 “Whittyngham . . . was but a luke-warm conformist at best.”—Athenæ Oxonienses by A. Wood, I. page 154>

<1771 “The lukewarm advocate avails himself of any pretence to relapse into . . . indifference.”—Junius Letters, lix. page 303>

<1804 “No lukewarm accents from my lips should flow.”—The Sabbath by J. Grahame, page 86>

<1840 “Sickening smells from many dinners came in a heavy lukewarm breath upon the sense.”—The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens, xix>

<1917 (headline) “Report Bulgaria Lukewarm in War”—New York Times, 11 August, page 3>

<1952 (headline) “Virginia Governor Backs Adlai [[Stevenson for president]]- - Others Luke Warm”—St. Petersburg Times[/i], 29 August>

<1975 “The lukewarm tenor of the first meeting between Mr. Ford and a major civil rights organization since he became president had been all but preordained . . .”—New York Times, 2 July, page 30>

<1980 “Lake Ontario is hot and cold for brown, coho, chinook, and lake trout while the river systems are only luke warm and cooling on steelhead seekers.”—Syracuse Herald Journal (New York), 28 May, page 23>

<1994 “. . . in the Scandinavian trio, support for membership has ranged from luke-warm to cool, leaving the outcome on a knife-edge.”—The Independent (London), 28 March>

<2002 (headline) “President Bush's Wall Street Speech Elicits Lukewarm Response from Investors.”—Houston Chronicle (Texas), 10 July>

<2008 “Senior [[Romanian]] party officials have been charged with corruption, and the bloc's poor public image almost certainly was a factor in its lukewarm [[election]] showing.”— Associated Press Worldstream, 1 December>
(quotes from Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources)
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Ken – December 1, 2008
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Re: luke warm [lukewarm / luke-warm -- Forum Mod.]

Post by p. g. cox » Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:15 am

Ken, I think that Cool Hand Luke refers to his poker-playing skills, when he bluffed another player into folding a superior hand. Whereupon Dragline (played by George Kennedy) remarks "You play a real cool hand Luke" or words to that effect, and the name stuck.
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Re: luke warm [lukewarm / luke-warm -- Forum Mod.]

Post by trolley » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:21 am

"Now, what we got here is failure to communicate"
Man, I loved that flick. Bloody classic!
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Re: luke warm [lukewarm / luke-warm -- Forum Mod.]

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:37 am

Pete and John, Please note: My ass is covered! I never specified whether the hand I was referring to was of fingers or cards, both of which may be subject to tepidness. (<;)
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Ken - December 1, 2008
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Re: luke warm [lukewarm / luke-warm -- Forum Mod.]

Post by hsargent » Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:46 pm

LUKEWARM adjective: 1373 luke warm; later leuke-warm (probably before 1425). Lukewarm is a compound adjective based on the now obsolete Middle English luke ‘tepid,’ which is cognate with Low German lūk, tepid, modern Dutch leuk, East Frisian lūk, luke, tepid, weak. It is not altogether clear where this came from, but it is generally assumed to be a derivative of the also now obsolete lew, ‘(fairly) warm,’ with perhaps a diminished suffix. Lew goes back to an Old English hlēow, ‘warm,’ a variant of which became modern English lee, ‘shelter.’ (Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayton, Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology)
Our language is certainly a strange accumulation. Here an obsolete term from so far back hangs on by usage without a continued definition by itself.
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