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Today, I came across a pair of sentences using these terms:

And while people may get misty-eyed about the "open web", or the "neutral net", this kind of utopianism was always naive in the extreme.


“It’s like losing your virginity. You’re a little misty for awhile, but then you realize, Wow, there’s a whole new world out there!”


Are these terms interchangeable?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, though misty is rare in that context. So rare that most dictionaries will not have the definition, and some people (including myself) would have to read it twice to get it. However, the quote to which you refer appears to use it in that sense.

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I would disallow "misty" in the second example. "Misty" is normally a weather term, meaning a very light rain. Metaphorically, as in "misty eyed," it means "virtually on the edge of tears."

So the usage is correct in your first example, and it should be replicated in the second. To omit "-eyed" is a kind of familiar ellipsis that may not be well understood by the general reader.

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The OED has four citations (1957, 1972, 1981 and 1993) in support of the definition of 'misty' as 'misty-eyed, tearful; emotional, sentimental’. – Barrie England Sep 27 '11 at 14:50

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