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5 November, 2007

A whole new level of pedantry

As David Morgan-Mar observed* , a 'quantum' is, by definition, "the smallest possible unit of difference".  Hence, the phrase 'a quantum leap', generally understood as referring to a large change, means quite the opposite.

Well... not really. It also refers to a transition from one state to another, with connotations of 'moving to the next level' and 'setting a new threshold', so it does sort-of mean what people think.

But don't let that stop you. Next time you hear the phrase, make sure you loudly correct the speaker. Just think of the quantum leap in onlookers' admiration of you.


*: in April. It's taking me a while to catch up the 1,744 (and counting) episodes of his 'Irregular Webcomic!'.

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