to go west


to be lost or destroyed

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“The unit was replaced, but the hygrometer has GONE WEST again! - the unit is now outside warranty - so very disappointed.”

Amazon Customer Review

Did you
know?

go west
informal

- if something goes west, it is lost, damaged or spoilt in some way

- to die

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary / Collins Dictionary



WORD ORIGIN

The phrase “go west” has two meanings, which in one sense are complete opposites.

(1) In 1851, New York Tribune editor Horace Greely used the term when the California Gold Rush was attracting a lot of attention to the potential riches in the western part of the United States. What Greely actually wrote was “Go west, young man, and grow with the country.”

This was an appeal to people in the relatively heavily populated cities of the eastern United States to move to the west to help the country grow and prosper.

(2) The other meaning - to die - was common in World War I, but is thought to be many centuries older. It stems from the legend believed by many Native American Indian tribes (and by other civilizations around the world) that each day is newly born in the east and dies in the west. Thus the “The Land of the Setting Sun” - the west - is where a one goes after death.


SOUTH OR NORTH?

”Going south” means something is declining or failing, which may explain the hopeful expression “follow your North Star”.


PRACTICE OWAD in an English conversation, say something like:

“Can you call the service department? the copy machine has GONE WEST again.”


HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

https://donorbox.org/please-become-a-friend-of-owad-3

Paul Smith

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