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Buttdial

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Buttdial

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:49 pm

• buttdial •


Pronunciation: bêt-dai-êl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To unintentionally dial a number on your cellphone when you are not operating the cellphone; to pocket-dial.

Notes: OK, OK! I take it enough of you have heard this word to accept it. I've now heard it from several friends, so I guess I'll have to go along. It is sticking because of the naughty word butt in it; pocketdial goes in one ear and out the other. This word has all the lexical accoutrements of English verbs: buttdialing serves as both adjective and action noun, while buttdialer does the duty of a personal noun. (My spellchecker doesn't like this at all.)

In Play: Buttdialing occurs when something in your purse or pocket pokes a speed dial number: "I bought a cellphone, but I only get calls that are buttdialed." How can you tell if someone has buttdialed you? "Hello? Hello? I'm hearing only a scratching sound; somebody must have buttdialed my number."

Word History: No one knows who came up with this word first, though I'm sure many will take the, well, credit for it. I first heard it in 2012. It is a compound comprising butt and dial. The first of these is not a reduction of buttock, for it predates the latter; rather, buttock was a diminutive of butt. Where butt came from no one knows. Dial is a reduction of Latin rota dialis "daily wheel", which evolved to refer to any round plate over which another plate rotates. It arrived in English originally meaning "sundial". This word was attached to the first telephone dials, because they were round, rotated, and had to do with numbers. Dialis goes back to a PIE word meaning "shine", that also gave us deity and jovial. "Jovial?" you rightly ask. Yes, it comes from Jove, the Roman god of sun, sunny days, and happiness.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby MTC » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:25 am

Delightful too see Doc pick a hip word like "buttdial" on the Goodword site. It's a bit like smoking a joint in a retitement home. Have some fun using this word with your younger relations and watch for the shocked looks you'll get.

"Buttdial" is right a home on the pages of the Urban Dictionary which defines it as follows:
"accidentally dialing a cell phone thats (sic) in your pocket and the resulting broadcasting of a conversation to the last person dialed.
Ex:
We heard all the personal details of his blind date after he butt dialed the apartment landline."

(http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.p ... utt%20dial)

On the distaff side (if that isn't P.I.) we have "purse dial."
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Slava » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:20 am

I've actually seen the result of a buttdial. The police were summoned to a local grocery store.

I gather it is quite common on 911 systems, with thousands of accidental calls a year.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:34 pm

Is this another example of developing language due to technology? My spellchecker still underlines iPhone, and we have discussed dongle on here.

Technologically, I'm not sure I know how the process works. It takes several steps to dial a number, so I can't figure how sitting on or accidentally touching its face would dial. I get these calls occasionally, usually from the same person, who more frequently lays the phone down, rather than stuffing it in a pocket.

Continues to fascinate me that we still use "dial" when actual dials are almost extinct. Even before cells, dials had mostly changed to buttons.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby MTC » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:23 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Continues to fascinate me that we still use "dial" when actual dials are almost extinct. Even before cells, dials had mostly changed to buttons.


Perry appears to be speaking about the verbal analog of a skeuomorph, a concept I thought we had discussed on the forum at one time or another, but perhaps not.

skeuomorphs, (my definition) are design features retained from an earlier stage of technological development as ornaments for the sake of familiarity, e.g., the mechanical "click" sound installed in digital cameras.

"Buttdial" is the verbal analog of a skeuomorph, isn't it? As Perry points out, we no longer "dial." Instead we push buttons, or touch screens. But we keep using the word "dial" for the sake of familiarity. Otherwise, "buttdial" would be "butbutton," or more provocatively, "butttouch."

To make a wireless phone call on the cellphone I inherited from my son (Shouldn't it be the other way around?) I touch an old-fashioned phone handle icon on the screen. This, I suppose, is also a skeuomorph.

It's not that we can't invent words fast enough to keep up with the pace of technological change. It's just that we find it more comfortable to cling temporarily to the past.
Last edited by MTC on Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Slava » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:39 pm

I admit I looked at only two sources, but dial does seem to be accepted use for a pad. Remember, language changes. Soon enough there will be no difference, except to you and me, between lies and lays.

Also, try looking into the biblical use of dial. Used but once, speaking of a sun-dial built by Ahaz, but it doesn't seem to have turned.

On the campus of my alma mater there is a sun-dial that, in season and when the sun is shining, shows the time as a stack of numbers. The light shines through numbered slits and a number is lighted up in the shadowed area underneath the dial.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Slava » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:52 pm

MTC wrote:skeumorphs, (my definition) are design features retained from an earlier stage of technological development as ornaments for the sake of familiarity, e.g., the mechanical "click" sound installed in digital cameras.

Here's where you brought up skeuomorphs.

Some of the sounds included in modern technology are required because we just can't deal with no noise. The click of digital cameras, the clack of computer keyboards, etc. If we don't hear anything, we don't think it's working.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:22 pm

I have a dial phone: still works, several touch tone: they work
too, as well as three cordless phones to big to get in a pocket:
no buttdial here.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:50 pm

Actually, one can turn off my sounds of all sorts on iPhones and iPads in the settings area. Or you can mute them with an outside button. On the other hand, it's neat to hear a sound and know what's happening. Texts and email, e.g. have different sounds.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby call_copse » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:31 am

There is actually an ongoing battle in Japan between those desirous of no (digital) shutter sound and those insisting it should be maintained. In view of the below I will side with the latter:

http://blog.procamera-app.com/smartphone-camera-voyeurism-is-alive-and-clicking-shhhh/

It's not just a skeuomorph in this case!
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Re: Buttdial

Postby MTC » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:27 am

And the "upshot?"
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:05 pm

The "upshot" is the final arrow in an ancient archery contest, and a fascinating word in itself.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby MTC » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:43 pm

A pun, Perry. "Upshot" carries its usual meaning and the special meaning discussed in call_copse's article. Regardless, a word with a colorful origin.
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:53 pm

To me, the upshot of the article Ian posted is the picture of Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch".
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Re: Buttdial

Postby Slava » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:57 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:To me, the upshot of the article Ian posted is the picture of Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch".

That's what was meant by the joke, though I've never heard it that way. I've heard up-skirt, but not shot.
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