6

What does the word 'already' at the end of a sentence indicate? For instance Enough With The Resolutions Already which is a title of an article on lifehacker. Does it mean 'now'? Does it mean 'I'm unhappy'? As a New Zealander, this term is unfamiliar to me. Is it an Americanism? What part of speech is it?

2
  • It's something of an exclamation, and some would say it should be preceded by a comma.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 22 '18 at 2:51
  • It expresses impatience whenever used, nothing more. "Enough with the questions already!" (no commal) means the person so addressed should have stopped asking ten minutes ago.
    – Robusto
    Dec 24 '18 at 1:58
2

It's a Yiddishism, a direct translation of a Yiddish adverb used for emphasis. It's a classic enough Yiddishism that a publisher's blog post applauding another publisher's new Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary they titled it "It’s enough already with the past: a new Yiddish dictionary is looking to build the language’s future".

An entry of William Safire's "On Language" about the phrase enough already says this about the Yiddish adverb:

The origin [of enough already] is the Yiddish genug shoyn, literally ''enough already.'' It is part of an array of phrases using shoyn for emphasis, from the similar gut shoyn, ''All right already!'' in the sense of ''Stop bugging me,'' to shvayg shtil shoyn, ''Shut up already!'' one calibration more irritated than genug shoyn.

*New York Times, Oct. 25, 1998

The piece has more about the origin of the term in English (early twenties century n the US) and speculates that it might be percolating out into the wider world, with a note that it had apparently been used in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, albeit reported by an American letter writer. But if it still sounds odd in Australia twenty years later, I'm inclined to doubt how widely it's spread in Riyadh.

Safire also compares this use of already to other English "adverbs of time" that can similarly be useed for emphasis: now as in "come on, now" or "now really" (or, indeed, "that's enough, now") and yet (though I don't find Safire's example here as intuitive). I might also compare it to another adverb-of-time, just, as in "that's just too bad" or "just you wait" Other than "now", English seems to prefer to keep these adverbs-for-emphasis fronted, which might contribute to the still-slightly-Yiddish feel to the appended already, even a century after its introduction to American English.

1
  • Great find. Every entry of that column could supply an answer to some question here.
    – Mitch
    Dec 24 '18 at 3:39
5

"Enough with X already"

is a pattern that means

"I have had enough of X up to now and don't want to hear anything more about it"

The "I have had enough with..." is literal enough, and the "already" emphasizes "up to now".

"Already" is still an adverb here.

As to region, the way it expressed exasperation, it has the feeling of a Yiddishism or NYC or 1960's Mad Magazine.

Another example:

Stop it! Enough with the news already! Can't we just talk about Ariana Grande?

5
  • So your claim is that it is ONLY in the specifi “enough with X” pattern that “already” has this special meaning? Isn’t it more productive?
    – Richard Z
    Dec 22 '18 at 14:23
  • @RichardZ Yes, you can put 'already' at the end in other circumstances, eg 'Take care of the dirty cop already', usually imperatives, and seems to mix up aspect (the literal meaning of 'already' implies past perfect, but imperative implies not past or perfect. But the addition of 'already' implies exasperation.
    – Mitch
    Dec 22 '18 at 14:52
  • So “enough with X” and imperatives? Anything else?
    – Richard Z
    Dec 22 '18 at 16:31
  • @RichardZ Do you have any suggestions?
    – Mitch
    Dec 22 '18 at 16:47
  • No I haven’t thought about it. But it’s an interesting question. And I would quite like to know if special meanings of words basically only arise in a small number of special constructions, or if they’re free and can be productively used more or less everywhere.
    – Richard Z
    Dec 22 '18 at 16:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.