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Take it from TTAG registered contributor #1218: it’s easy to fall off the tracks around here. And it’s kinda like listening to Dennis Miller—eventually I end up in the dictionary. Thanks to TTAG, I’ve been forced (forced I tell you) to learn a lot in the last year. Ruger review-turned-toxicology lessonA simple picture turns into a Civil War/Slavery debate. Gun Control baiting. And then there’s semantics . . .

“I heard a magazine article that said I could buy a clip for my Glock that held 30 bullets.”  A talking periodical! A Glock that accepts clips! Cartridge-less bullets! Did I just hear somebody have an aneurism?

mikeb302000: Clip! Clip! Clip! Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means. Vizzini:  Inconceivable.

Just to be clear [via Wikipedia]:

magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm. Magazines may be integral to the firearm (fixed) or removable (detachable). The magazine functions by moving the cartridges stored in the magazine into a position where they may be loaded into the chamber by the action of the firearm.

If you’re going to get all butt-hurt when clip is used synonymously with magazine, do me a favor and tear a page out of Magoo’s book: get pissed when “bullet” is used improperly. Guns fire bullets. The business end of a cartridge is the bullet. Clips and magazines hold cartridges. Cartridge in, bullet out. bottom line: “clip” will continue to be misused, intentionally or not, and we should get over it. Same with the bullet thing. As pre-Glock Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, “For a large class of cases — though not for all — in which we employ the word ‘meaning’ it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language.”

Enough of the snippy talk, now get back to commenting. I need the education.

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  1. Let’s add to the learning curve:

    A “clip” when referring to a magazine is an example of metalepsis referring to a thing by something more familiar but only remotely associated with it, as an allusion by some notable characteristic they have in common. The earlier wide use of “clip” in WWII war reporting referring specifically to the M1 enbloc clip, properly so-called, was then extended, in less familiar circles, to the functionally related, but completely different mechanism of the spring loaded box magazine.

    A “bullet” when referring to a cartridge is an form of synecdoche called meronymy where the whole is referred to by the name of only one part.

    Wikipedia – Chapter 4,249: Verses 9–21.
    Here endeth the lesson.

      • The first two are in the OED:

        ‖ metalepsis Rhet.


        [a. L. metalēpsis, Gr. µετάληψις, n. of action to µεταλαµβάνειν to substitute, to change the sense of (words), f. µετα- meta- + λαµβάνειν to take.]

        A rhetorical figure mentioned by Quintilian, consisting in the metonymical substitution of one word for another which is itself figurative. (In many English examples the use appears to be vague or incorrect.)

           1586 A. Day Eng. Secretary ii. (1625) 79 Metalepsis, or Transumptio, when by a certaine number of degrees we goe beyond that we intend in troth, and haue meaning to speake of, as to say Accursed soyle that bred my cause of woe.    1657 J. Smith Myst. Rhet. 3 Metalepsis, which is when divers Tropes are shut up in one word: as, 2 King. 2. 9. I pray thee let me have a double portion of thy spirit.    1783 Blair Rhet. xiv. (1812) I. 339 When the Trope is founded on the relation between an antecedent and a consequent, or what goes before, and immediately follows, it is then called a Metalepsis.

        ‖ synecdoche Gram. and Rhet.


        Also 4–5 syn-, sinodoches, 5 synadochie, 6 sinecdochine, senec(h)doche, 6–7 synechdoche, 7 sinecdoche, synegdoche, synechdochie. Also anglicized 6 sinecdoch.

        [a. late L. synecdoche (in med.L. sinodoche, whence obs. F. synodoche), a. Gr. συνεκδοχή, f. συνεκδέχεσθαι lit. to take with something else, f. σύν syn-1 + ἐκδέχεσθαι to take, take up. Cf. F. synecdoche, -doque, It. sineddoche, Sp. siné(c)doque, Pg. synecdoche.
           The form sinecdochine represents the acc. synecdochen, συνεκδοχήν, and synodoches is a new nom. formed upon it; cf. syncopis, -in, s.v. syncope.]

        A figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versâ; as whole for part or part for whole, genus for species or species for genus, etc.
           Formerly sometimes used loosely or vaguely, and not infrequently misexplained.

           1388 Wyclif’s Bible, Prol. xii. (1850) 47 Bi a figure clepid synodoches [v.r. synadochie], whanne a part is set for al, either al is set for oo part.    1432–50 tr. Higden (Rolls) IV. 263 Criste was seide to be in the‥herte of therthe thre daies and iij. nyȝhtes by a figure callede sinodoches, after Seynte Austyn, sythe Criste reste not in his sepulcre but by xlti howres.    1483 Caxton Gold. Leg., Resurr. (1892) 52 Jhesus was in the sepulcre iii dayes & iii nyghtes. But after saynt austyn the first day is taken by synecdoche, that is, that the last part of the day is taken [etc.].    1548 R. Hutten Sum of Diuinitie E ij b, They imagyne a Sinecdoch to be in thys worde.    Ibid. F viij b, The subtyll cauillacyons, whereby they fayne Sinecdochine.    1551 T. Wilson Logike (1580) 75 Therefore, whereas I saie, the Churche doeth not erre, it is called Synechdoche, that is to saie, when the parte is vsed for the whole [sic].    1602 Marston Ant. & Mel. v. Wks. 1856 I. 55, I did send for you to drawe me a devise, an Imprezza, by Sinecdoche a Mott.    1612 J. Mason Anat. Sorc. 56 By these two blessings (to wit) the sunne & raine meaning al other earthly benefits whatsoever, by the figure synechdoche.    1638 Chillingw. Relig. Prot. i. v. §94. 295 By a Synecdoche of the whole for the part, he might be said to forsake the Visible Church.    1657 J. Smith Myst. Rhet. 44 Of the Grammarians it is called a Synecdoche, or Comprehension, when a common word or name is restrained to a part which is expressed by the Accusative Case‥: as, Æthiops albus dentes, an Ethiopian white in the teeth; here, white agreeing to the teeth only, is attributed to the whole Ethiopian.    1660 Jer. Taylor Worthy Commun. i. iii. 58 It is by a Metonymy and a Sacramental Manner of speaking, yet it is also a synecdoche of the part for the whole.    1718–31 J. Trapp tr. Virg., Eclogues i. 87 note (ed. 2) I. 11 Aristas, by a Metonymy of the Adjunct, for Harvests; and Those by a Synecdoche, for Years.    1872 W. Minto Engl. Prose Lit. Introd. 15 Metaphors, personifications, synecdoches and metonymy in almost every sentence.    1900 R. J. Drummond Apost. Teach. viii, This ordinance was frequently by synecdoche spoken of as the Breaking of Bread.

        The last one is not:

  2. Excellent, Patrick B. When I got to “pre-Glock Austrian philosopher” I laughed out loud. We may not all agree on many things, but I hope we all have a good time.

  3. I always learn some thing new when I come here. Some good, some bad, but always something.

    Now my thinking muscle hurts.

  4. Your thinking muscle hurts? That’s nothing. My hair caught fire. Thank you, Messrs. Brown, Mead and A Critic, for defoliating what’s left on my scalp.

    Now if you can please explain the infield fly rule . . . .

    • Infield fly rule should be easy compared to understanding a balk… My 9-year old tried to help me, but I’m still lost.

  5. Oh great sages! A Critic lost me at “clepid” and the “explanations” in old english (at least I think it was english) melted down my main cpu. That was worse than reading the Obamacare law.
    If all y’all are so smart… Explain the rules of cricket.

    • “Explain the rules of cricket.”

      They rub their little legs together to make a noise that attracts female crickets. If that doesn’t work they rub harder until they set themselves on fire and die. Geez, crickets are dumb. Hey, crickets: get a haircut and a nice suit, drive a Jaguar and quit rubbing. It worked for me.

  6. I prefer the Free Online Dictionary to the OED.

    Noun 1. clip – a metal frame or container holding cartridges; can be inserted into an automatic gun
    cartridge clip, cartridge holder, magazine


    bul·let (blt)
    a. A usually metal projectile in the shape of a pointed cylinder or a ball that is expelled from a firearm, especially a rifle or handgun.
    b. Such a projectile in a metal casing; a cartridge.

    Clip can be used interchangeably for magazine and bullet for cartridge.

    • Free, eh? You get what you pay for… I do think it’s funny that people get so wrapped around the axle on such a benign topic. Wiki does a good job in keeping both sides happy:

      With the increased use of semi-automatic and automatic firearms, the detachable box magazine became increasingly common. Soon after the adoption of the M1911 pistol, the term “magazine” was settled on by the military and firearms experts, though the term “clip” is often used in its place (though only for detachable magazines, never fixed). The defining difference between clips and magazines is the presence of a feed mechanism in a magazine, typically a spring loaded follower, which a clip lacks. Use of the term “clip” to refer to detachable magazines is a point of strong disagreement.

  7. I usually let these slide (though saying “mag” is just as convenient as saying “clip,” so there is really no excuse there); however, when it comes time to talk about legislation, banning, regulating, etc. the terminology needs to be consistent and correct.

  8. My father, a Vietnam vet, still refers to mags as clips. I knowingly try to correct him on the usage… Then we go to the range, and he out shoots me every time. My point is, doesn’t matter what you say, when it comes down to skills, your actions will be all that matters.


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