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  • Rolig: I was waiting for someone to mention that. ;-)

    November 25, 2008

  • A friend of mine used to say "take a straight" when giving directions.

    November 25, 2008

  • telofy: I would certainly understand it in that sense. True means straight, so keep true would mean "stay straight, don't deviate".

    n.b. I'm fairly sure that without old nautical terms we'd all just be grunting and gesticulating.

    November 25, 2008

  • The first rule of etymology is to introduce sailing ships where at all possible.

    November 25, 2008

  • I'm guessing it is an old nautical term, if that helps.

    *is sure it doesn't*

    November 24, 2008

  • You mean, "gayly forward!", don't you Pro? That's what we jocularly say when we're giving directions in a car and don't want to suggest that the driver should convert to heterosexuality.

    November 24, 2008

  • Here is one:

    Keep true, my friends.

    (Prolagus, right now, on Wordie)

    November 24, 2008

  • But none of the other citations entirely fulfill the criterion of "keep true" meaning "go straight" either. I was trying to provide something that comes as close as possible.

    November 24, 2008

  • Yes, but my point was simply that in the passage you quote, "the dial compass can be used to keep true directions," "true" is an adjective modifying the noun "directions." Here "true" doesn't mean "straight ahead" but "accurate, precise" and indeed "relative to the true North" (*humming to self "Oh, Canada!"*). So this is not a case where "keep true" means "go straight" – in which case true would be a predicate adjective, not a modifier.

    November 24, 2008

  • In my experience, rolig, one uses a compass to try to keep to a bearing, i.e., go straight.

    November 24, 2008

  • Mollusque, in your citation, doesn't "keep true directions" simply mean "maintain accurate directions"? I don't think this is the "keep true" Telofy is seeking.

    November 24, 2008

  • Found one more, which I would almost swear wasn't in Google yesterday. (Note the excellent author and title).

    "With this in mind the dial compass can be used to keep true directions, but it is of little value to record and plot the deflection of the compass needle."

    --Frank Fitch Grout, 1949, The Titaniferous Magnetites of Minnesota, p. 26

    November 23, 2008

  • The expression found me while I was watching The Big Bang Theory, but the writers intended it to be obscure:

    "Stay low. Bear left. Now keep true."


    "It means 'go straight'."

    "Can't you just say 'go straight'..."

    "You don't say 'go straight' when you give bearings, you say 'keep true'."

    Concerning "thesaurus": At first I couldn't decide between "to thesaurus" and "to thesaurus up", but in the end I concluded that the latter sounds to deliberately run-of-the-mill.

    And thanks for the quotes.

    November 23, 2008

  • I found two instances of "keep true" in the context of directions, but for one of them the meaning is more like "keep on the path" rather than "go straight".

    "They returned to summit and took correct route to foot of Inaccessible Pinnacle but failed to keep true left at the cairned ledge and went straight down the false Stone Chute."

    --Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal 29: 87 (1971)

    "To keep true direction also along all other straight lines on the map Mercator simply increased the scale from north to south, in such proportion that at every latitude the north-scale is equal to the east-west scale at that latitude."

    --Year Book of World Affairs, 1952, p. 216

    November 23, 2008

  • Whether or not there exists a citation to earlier usage, I believe that "keep true" works with the meaning of "go straight" when giving directions, because the meaning seems straightforward and unambiguous. What else could it mean in that context? Connotations of direction and straightness already exist in such phrases as "true North", "true up" and "out of true".

    November 23, 2008

  • RE sarra: i wasn't able to find citations either, and i did look for a while. so i understand your frustration. i KNOW i've heard it in a movie in this sense, but it totally escapes me. RE telofy: yes indeed, true has a plethora of connotations. my favourite meaning is the original one, "steadfast, loyal", from "treowe" -- i hadn't heard the reference to "tree", but that is very, very interesting. obviously i'll have to visit this Heritage site. also, is "thesaurus" a verb? of course, if thesaurus doesn't have a verb form then i'd say it's up for grabs but i haven't heard it used as one.

    November 23, 2008

  • Empirical: Great, and even one of the words I didn't thesaurus.

    I can't imagine how I survived the years before I knew "empirical" resp. "empirisch". ^^

    Under "true", there are a few promising entries in a couple of dictionaries I just checked (I have to connect to a VPN to access the OED):

    "Determined with reference to the earth's axis, not the magnetic poles: true north." -- Heritage

    "i. Of bearings: measured relative to true North." -- OED

    And Heritage also avers that "true" and "tree" are related, and with the exception of the crooked and the gnarled ones, those are quite straight as well. ;-)

    November 23, 2008

  • Oh damn, damn, damn, damn. I can't find a single citation, so I'm worried I'm going down the route of false etymology and other related follies.

    November 23, 2008

  • i think anything can be uncomplicated if one wants it to be. i love the word "empirical", by the way. very helpful word.

    November 23, 2008

  • re the original post, it feels very right to me, and I'm sure I've heard it more than once before. I'll have a look round. Think about truing bicycle wheels, though, and arrows which fly straight and true.

    November 23, 2008

  • I'm not sure I know what you mean by idyllic hope but it sounds like something that would soon succumb to subfusc and probably ungrounded worries and anxieties accompanied by selectively over-interpreted empirical data. At least it's not always that way, so I always have to consoling knowledge that it is mainly just my subconscious filtering my perception in a somewhat unpropitious (inauspicious, unfavorable) way...

    How is self-trust uncomplicated to discuss? ^^

    November 23, 2008

  • i was referring to your construction, actually. on your note, i believe just having that feeling is a good sign. i hold fast to the phrase "hope springs eternal in the human breast". self-trust is a complicated and uncomplicated concept for discussion, but i try to conquer downwardly spiraling ideas with idyllic hope. if that means anything.

    November 23, 2008

  • I hope you mean Schiller. Of course I'm not to doubt that it is the zenith of aptness.

    I was only wondering about my "bid ... welcome" sentence. I never used that before for I just discovered that bid bit on

    On a different note, I still regard my self as quite young, yet I worry that with time my hopes and dreams will crumble down to a desperate heap of resignation. The last time a few days ago, while being absent-minded during a lecture...

    November 23, 2008

  • i believe that does work. strange construction executed well is the makings of truly excellent poetry. oh, and thanks for the welcome!

    November 23, 2008

  • I'm honoured by your considerateness, quoting such a significant poet from my native country and I'm thus trying to convey my gratitude by employing your British orthography. ;-)

    It seems you are on Wordie for about a week now, so let me bid you slightly delayed welcome.

    (Strange construction... Does that work?)

    November 23, 2008

  • telofy, i know this isn't at all pertinent to your question, so i apologise for the irrelevant quote, but i haven't yet come across a "go straight" reference. though i have heard that, perhaps once or twice.

    "keep true to the dreams of thy youth."

    - Friedrich von Schiller

    November 23, 2008

  • I heard that "keep true" means as much as "go straight" when giving directions. Can anyone confirm that or back it up with a dictionary entry or something? Thanks.

    November 23, 2008