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This question touched on the confusion of the common usage of "next Tuesday" to really mean "Tuesday of next week", as opposed to the "soonest upcoming Tuesday". When one considers the actual definition of next, this phrasing is simply wrong. I'm rather baffled how this phrasing came about. To make things stranger, this is the only instance in which next is used with this definition.

How did next come to mean the Tuesday of next week when used in sentences such as "What are we doing next Tuesday?"

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    The question you linked to answers this in the accepted answer. "Next" means next week and not next day. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Sep 6 '11 at 18:38
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    @Mr.Shiney The accepted answer does not answer my question. I'm asking how this meaning came about, not what it means. It is about the etymology, not the definition. – Wipqozn Sep 6 '11 at 18:50
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    Does something with a clear meaning need an etymology besides "I said it, and it was clear?" – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Sep 6 '11 at 18:51
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    Of course it does. Not to mention that although the meaning is clear, it doesn't make any sense given the technical definition of the word. I'm asking how this second definition came about, which is a perfectly valid question. – Wipqozn Sep 6 '11 at 18:57
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    It seems to me that the specific example of "next Tuesday" (or "Tuesday next," which I take to be interchangeable) is unhelpfully limiting, because the only case in which it would be unclear is if it were to be used on a Monday (in which case it might mean the "next day that is a Tuesday," i.e., tomorrow; or "the Tuesday of next week," which would be a week from tomorrow). Anytime after Monday that this phrase is used it will mean both at the same time. (cont.) – user14525 Nov 4 '11 at 18:52
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This use of next Tuesday to mean Tuesday of next week is fairly old, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. They include examples under the definition:

Applied (without preceding the) to days of the week, with either the current day or (in later use; orig. Sc.) the current week as the implicit point of reference. Thus (for example) next Friday may mean ‘the soonest Friday after today’ or ‘the Friday of the coming week’. The latter may be indicated contextually, e.g. by contrast with this, but it is not always clear which meaning is intended

a1592 R. Greene Frier Bacon (1594) sig. B, Thou knowst next friday is S. Iames, And then the country flockes to Harlston faire.

So the use of next --day came after 1592. However, there is another use of next with a weekday that predates this:

c1390 Chaucer Miller's Tale 3518 Now a Monday next, at quarter nyght, Shal falle a reyn.

There is also this:

c1230 (1200) Ancrene Riwle (Corpus Cambr.) (1962) 211 Ȝef‥ȝe ne beon nawt ihuslet i þeose isette tearmes, beoð hit þe neste [a1250 Nero nexte] sunne dei.

Having traced back the references in the OED, it is possible that the form next --day is a fairly original structure. Next has been used to mean "Designating the time, season, etc., following directly after one described, spoken of, etc." in both early and late Old English.

The OED does note that next with a weekday is:

Applied (without preceding the) to days of the week, with either the current day or (in later use; orig. Sc.) the current week as the implicit point of reference.

So next Tuesday originally meant the Tuesday after whatever day today is, but there is no clear notation of when the additional meaning was added. The use of Tuesday after this current week was noted in the OED as being used by 1711.

  • Very interesting. I was unaware this usage of next was that old; I thought it was more recent then that. – Wipqozn Sep 6 '11 at 21:36
  • @Wipqozn--I thought it would be more recent too. If you'd like more examples/use, I can provide them (for example, the Old English sentences) – simchona Sep 6 '11 at 21:38
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    I don't really understand why this question is being asked again, since it was all covered by the earlier one. But I do think it's important to note that there is no consensus as to exactly when "this xxxday" becomes "next xxxday". Individual speakers may well be consistent, but in the world at large that simply isn't true. Apart from anything else, there's not even consensus on which day marks the start of a week, and many people's definitions of "next xxxday" depend on whether the day in question is in "this" week or "next", and/or what day it is today. – FumbleFingers Sep 6 '11 at 22:19
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Why did English start doing this? See simchona's wonderfully detailed history of this linguistic convention.

Why does English keep doing this? This convention is sustainable because if you want to refer to the Tuesday of this week, you simply say "Tuesday" or "this Tuesday". Conversely, if you go to the trouble of saying "next Tuesday" I understand that you're explicitly not describing the Tuesday of this week.

PS. "Next Tuesday couldn't be the same as this Tuesday, you know."

  • There's no real need for a "This" Tuesday, some other languages don't have it. As explained many times already the issue is: when does the week (re-)start / when exactly does "next" become "this". – MarcH Dec 3 '15 at 21:32
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You're correct - without any additional qualifiers, "Next Tuesday" literally refers to the next instance of Tuesday. Laziness seems like the most likely cause for some to misuse the phrase in place of "the Tuesday after next" because there are two less words, and the latter requires some amount of thinking to calculate.

Next: 1) immediately following in time, order, importance, etc.: the next day; the next person in line. 2) nearest or adjacent in place or position: the next room. 3) nearest in relationship or kinship.

  • @GEdgar No reference is needed for the first sentence, however, I did change the voice from declarative to suggestive in the second sentence so as to not declare as fact. – Physics-Compute Jul 13 '18 at 18:58
  • Any criticism of the answer is welcome so that I may improve it. – Physics-Compute Jul 30 '18 at 15:52
  • I suspect this has been down-voted as the confusion is legitimate based on various usage, describing the use you disfavor as "lazy" is to make a moral judgment when one isn't warranted. – Geoffrey McGrath Jun 20 at 18:07

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