proposition

proposition
1. The noun proposition has various well-established meanings arising from its basic sense of ‘something proposed’, e.g. a scheme or proposal, a statement in logic that is subject to proof or disproof, and a formal statement of a theorem or problem in mathematics. A more generalized meaning, ‘an enterprise or undertaking’, was regarded by Fowler (1926) as an intrusive Americanism which he wanted to see abandoned in favour of alternatives such as proposal, task, undertaking, enterprise, etc. Clearly this advice has not been heeded, and it would be difficult to sustain such an objection now in the face of the overwhelming evidence of usage. Note that proposition is normally used with reference to the viability or likely success of the thing in question:

• ‘Call this a store?’ he would say. ‘Call this a paying proposition?’ —A. Tyler, 1980

• Tinkering with the possibilities becomes an enticing proposition —D. Shekerjian, 1990.

2. The use of proposition as a verb arose in America in the 1920s in two main meanings: (1) to present (someone) with a proposition, and (2) to request sexual favours from. The second meaning is now usually the one that comes first to mind:

• In Hyde Park, that black whore had propositioned him as he walked from work toward the Tube —New Yorker, 1975.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • proposition — [ prɔpozisjɔ̃ ] n. f. • v. 1120 propositiun « action de faire connaître ses intentions »; lat. propositio 1 ♦ L action, le fait d offrir, de suggérer qqch. à qqn; ce qui est proposé. ⇒ offre. Proposition de paix. Faire des propositions… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • proposition — prop‧o‧si‧tion [ˌprɒpəˈzɪʆn ǁ ˌprɑː ] noun [countable] 1. COMMERCE a business idea, offer, or suggestion, for example a possible business deal: • I ll consider your proposition and let you know my decision next week. • We have a proposition to… …   Financial and business terms

  • proposition — Proposition. s. f. Ce qu on énonce par le discours sur quelque sujet que ce soit. Proposition universelle. proposition particuliere. proposition d éternelle verité. proposition establie sur de faux principes. proposition universellement receuë.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Proposition 2½ — (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 59 § 21C [ [http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/59 21c.htm Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 59 § 21C] , via Mass.gov] ) is a Massachusetts statute which limits property tax increases by Massachusetts municipalities. It was passed by ballot …   Wikipedia

  • Proposition 19 — Proposition 19, auch bekannt als Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 (deutsch Gesetz zur Regulierung, Kontrolle und Besteuerung von Cannabis), war ein Volksentscheid, der am 2. November 2010 in Kalifornien zur Abstimmung stand.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Proposition — Prop o*si tion, n. [L. propositio: cf. F. proposition. See {Propound}.] 1. The act of setting or placing before; the act of offering. Oblations for the altar of proposition. Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster] 2. That which is proposed; that which is… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Proposition H — was a proposed ordinance that would ban the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco, California, United States. There were no exceptions to this part of the ban.The Proposition would also have… …   Wikipedia

  • Proposition 31 — is a 1968 novel written by Robert Rimmer that tells the story of two middle class, suburban California couples who turn to a polyamorous relationship to deal with their multiple infidelities as an alternative to divorce. The novel is written as a …   Wikipedia

  • proposition — Proposition, Propositio. Une proposition dialectique, Effatum, Enunciatum. Proposition d erreur, Supplex prouocatio, Appellatio supplex, B …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • proposition — [präp΄ə zish′ən] n. [ME proposicioun < OFr proposition < L propositio < proponere: see PROPOSE] 1. the act of proposing 2. a) something proposed; proposal, plan ☆ b) Informal an unethical or immoral proposal, specif. one of illicit… …   English World dictionary

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