Saturday, September 04, 2010

In How Many Ways Can You Use These Words

I guess we all ought to have gotten used to it by now: how the words use and used get a lot of usage; furthermore, they have been used in a lot of different ways for a very long time. 

In 1950, Hank Williams cut a song with the refrain, "Why don't you love my like you used to do?"

Then there was Big Joe Williams, "Crawlin' King Snake" (1941) via John Lee Hooker (1949):  "I don't want you hangin' around my mate, wanna use her for myself."

And Signifying Mary Johnson in 1936: "Little things he used to do / He don't do them no more;" even before that, in 1929: "Because my black man has told me / He couldn't use me anymore."

Oh yes, in the common parlance of our day -- and derived from quite a little ways back, too -- I've heard every one of the following expressions "used" in the past month either in person, in a song, in writing or on screen:

Get used to it.
He was hesitant at first, but now he's used to it.
I used to work there.
Sorry, but I can't use you today.
He's using.
I got no use for that.

Just yesterday, I heard a woman say she was looking for "a gently used dryer for $50."

Of course, there's always:
Used cars.
Used books.

And let's not forget the way Bill Withers put it in 1972: "... if it feels this good getting used / Oh, you just keep on using me / Until you use me up."

Please do go ahead and use your memory banks: what usage of "use and used" have I not made use of?


Erik Donald France said...

"Use it or lose it . . ."

Anonymous said...