In my 2019 article, I explain that in the phrase best efforts, the word best has been “delexicalized”—instead of expressing its dictionary definition of “exceeding all others,” in this context it’s used as a rhetorical flourish. Other phrases that feature the delexicalized best are in the best interest(s) of Acme and to the best of Acme’s knowledge (and variants). I’ve suspected … Read More

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