New Word: decanting

6 06 2010

Here’s a new word that came to my attention recently.

decant – pronounced, I think, as dee-cant, with equal stress on each of the two syllables, and related to the word decanter (where the stress is on the medial syllable),  being a vessel for holding liquid, and the thing from which one decants. Well, the decant that I was told about is a metaphorical take on the old wine decanting. It came about through an office memo in a government department advising staff about the forthcoming move to another building, and providing a protocol of tasks to be completed and by when. Thus, one line read “meet the transition team – the people who will be helping you with decanting, change management and other issues relating to your move”. At this stage I’m of the view that the word is rather euphemistic – moving is one big headache for most people who do it, not least the removalists. It all seems much more polished and do-able when it’s a matter of decanting.  I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of this kind of decanting.




5 responses

9 06 2010

About the new use of decanting–perhaps the user was mangling a word for “to take oneself off” or to “up and leave” or (as a blues singer once sang, “put on my leavin’ shoes,”) namely, decamp? Maybe I’m being generous to avoid the weird thoughts of someone picking up a building and tilting it slowly to pour off the people but leave the furniture behind–decant the people but not the hardware.

11 06 2010

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if “decant” emerged from a mis-use of “decamp”, rather like one of those eggcorns – see for example There’s plenty of examples of words that have slipped into English by error. Of course, none springs to mind right now!

10 06 2010
mark c

I’m really not that ‘wordy’ and am mostly lurking around here in Dr Ruth land trying to learn bits an pieces but – I always thought ‘decant’ had something to do with liquid.

You know – breaking 10 litres of wine down into smaller quantities

Am i way off track?

Would you know what I meant if i asked you to decant a quantity of liquid into 10 equal parts??

Come on guys – one for the dummy!!

11 06 2010

Yeah, you’re right “decanting” used to be all about moving liquid from one place (container) to another (wine glass). Over the last year,on several occasions, I’ve heard it used in this new way – some sort of middle meaning that combines elements of pouring and of removalling.

12 06 2010
mark c

Well don’t just stand there Craig, decant that bottle of Grange and be quick to fill that empty Vegemite jar with a beverage for your thirsty old mate!

chop chop son!

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