April 23, 2007

Do you want to unbosom yourself?

Filed under: language — Kim @ 8:24 am

One of my courses at Dalian University of Foreign Languages is called “Academic Writing” and in one recent essay, about blogs and blogging, a student wrote that many bloggers “unbosom themselves” when writing their blogs. I laughed to myself and corrected this to “vent”/”unburden themselves”.

But no! My student picked me up on this and showed me her dictionary. There it was: “to unbosom oneself (v).” Hmmm, crappy electronic dictionaries, I thought to myself and made a mental note to look at a “proper paper dictionary”. It was still there. Well, it’s a codified word I can’t deny. So how many people use it? How many”google” hits does it garner?

The phrase “to unbosom myself” gets 200 and has been uttered by such worthies as Jefferson, Mark Twain, and Daniel Defoe. “He unbosomed himself” gets 506 hits, mostly from 19th century novels it seems.

But still and all, it sounds silly. I mean, dear reader, do you really want to unbosom yourself?

Would you correct my student?


  1. I want to unbosom somebody’s mum.

    Comment by The Dude — April 24, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  2. 16’900 für unbosom themselves

    16’500 für to unbosom myself

    Comment by mia — April 24, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  3. Ah well, at least someone’s reading my blog. Who’s Mia? Thanks whoever you are!

    Comment by Kim — April 25, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  4. Nice one, dude. I knew you’d get something in there. As for Mia, shock that someone Kim doesn’t know is reading is blog!

    Comment by A Fan of The Dude — April 26, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

  5. I would correct your student and explain that it’s a horribly out of date word that only 19th century novelists ever used, and that nobody since then has ever used it. If your student still objects, tell him to go to the logical extreme and start writing in Old English.

    Comment by chriswaugh_bj — April 28, 2007 @ 5:26 am

  6. i remember a few years ago there was a really popular song in the UK (i forget the name & artist right now) which had the refrain “everyone needs a bosom for a pillow”, which is very true indeed.

    Comment by Steven — April 28, 2007 @ 8:03 am

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