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The curious case of the near miss
2

The curious case of the near miss

The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
I was reading about the asteroid that will make a close approach to Earth tomorrow in what was termed a "near miss"

I understand what is meant by this term but I have issues with its use.

Does near miss qualify as idiom to circumvent its self contradiction?

Just insert near in front of any other appropriate verb to get my meaning

e.g.
Near drowning = not drowned
Near death = not dead
Near miss = actual miss?

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

==> Does near miss qualify as idiom to circumvent its self contradiction?
Yes, but see below.

==> Just insert near in front of any other appropriate verb to get my meaning
That's not a reasonable comparison, and here's why. The use of "near" in "near drowning" and "near death" impart the meaning of "close but not quite", or "almost". He almost drowned; he almost died. That's very different from "near miss" because a near miss doesn't mean "close but not quite". The proper analogous term would be "near hit". Since "near miss" actually means "near hit", it's an idiom. But again, the other examples are not idioms.


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RE: The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
I almost chose using near hit as an example but second guessed myself.

I can accept that near miss is idiom I suppose, but I won't use it myself. I'll typically use the term close approach (as above) or equivalent that avoids the self contradiction

BTW - its not fair to delete posts when someone calls you out on the misuse of a term :D

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What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

I think we should also remember that "miss" has different things. If you nearly miss your flight, then that could be a "near miss", which for that case, I would argue is not idiomatic because the meaning is correct.

I wonder if the etymology of the term includes a military usage when sighting a weapon or range finding.

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RE: The curious case of the near miss

I saw something similar recently in an aviation safety publication... or poster... I can't remember which. It said there's no such thing as a near miss; it's a near hit. The point being that we shouldn't be so blasé about close calls in aviation when the consequences of a hit are rarely survivable.

Annihilannic
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RE: The curious case of the near miss

While that "close call" or "near miss" of the 150 footer will pass us by, a chunk of it didn't miss Russia. On a related note, this was a single meteor and not, as some news outlets are saying, a meteor shower nor a meteorite as it didn't hit the earth. It exploded above it.
soapboxOnce again, some news people can't seem to get their scientific facts straight. soapbox

James P. Cottingham
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RE: The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
@ 2ffat - A it is not a meteor either unless it enters the atmosphere

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
@ 2ffat again. It occurs to me that your meteor/meteorite comment was related to the Russia event instead of the 150 footer that will pass us by. This was not entirely clear if this was the case.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

How can ANYTHING be a "near hit'??????


A hit, in this context is an impact, so anything that doesn't actually 'hit' is going to be a miss.

Chris.

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Time flies like an arrow, however, fruit flies like a banana.
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RE: The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
@ ChrisHirst

How can ANYTHING be a "near miss'??????

A miss in this context is a near impact so anything that doesn't actually 'miss' is going to be a hit.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

What I found is this near miss was coined in aviation. If two planes miss, but still come very close, the term makes sense, even though your examples, kwbMitel, near drowning and near death suggest this meaning is wrong. But I think in the case of two planes obviously not hitting each other, but still coming dangerously close together I think a near miss describes that much better than a near hit, near collision, which I also found. Close call would perhaps be a better description also in case of the asteroid.

I would still say the other examples use another meaning of the word near, not the geometrical distance, so it's quite a good idiom or usage, I guess. Unless it would be called a near Miss. In that case it could be a welcome and non accidental situation.

Bye, Olaf.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

Quote (ChrisHirst)

How can ANYTHING be a "near hit'??????

A meteor landing in Russia is a distant hit. A meteor landing in my back yard is a near hit.

bigsmile



RE: The curious case of the near miss

I think the root of the problem is confusion between "near" and "nearly". "Near hit" and "nearly hit" are not the same thing. So I agree with Chris earlier... "near hit" doesn't make much sense in the aviation context (it does so in Sam's example, but ... smile, whereas a case of "nearly hit" does.

Annihilannic
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RE: The curious case of the near miss

==> I think the root of the problem is confusion between "near" and "nearly".
I don't think the problem is between the adjective 'near' and the adverb 'nearly' as much as it is multiple definitions of the adjective 'near'. One definition of near - meaning close with respect to an event happening - makes perfect sense in aviation. However, another definition of near - meaning close with respect to distance - is rather different.

You have to rely on context to understand which definition is in play. In SamBones' example, it's easy to see that the "close with respect to distance" meaning is being used. In aviation, if two planes violate separations minimums but to not make contact, and the situation is described as a "near hit", then it's equally clear that the "close with respect to an event happening" is the definition in play. That's also the definition in play with "near death" and "near drowning".

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RE: The curious case of the near miss

I've done some research and the term "near miss" does have a military background. In WW2, the term "near miss" was a specific term used to identify a bomb, or other weapon, which missed its target, but was close enough to cause significant damage. Hence the term "near miss". Over time, the "cause significant damage" implication has been lost.

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RE: The curious case of the near miss

So, as 2ffat states, regarding the fireball (neither meteorite nor meteor, but possibly a meteoroid, unless it was unclaimed man-made space debris) over Russia:

"...it didn't hit the earth. It exploded above it."

That was therefore a near miss, in terms of the collateral damage it caused, without hitting anything, whereas the close orbital approach of the asteroid was merely a close encounter, without any damage, and was not linked to the fireball in any way. Widely different trajectories and velocities were reported for each object. There have been reported fireballs that neither explode, nor hit, but bounce through the atmosphere and back into space (earth-grazing meteoroids), e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1972_Great_Daylight_F...

No meteoritic fragments have been confirmed from the fireball. There was a circular hole in the ice on a nearby Russian lake reported, but such circular holes are described even without possible impacts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20eGtfGhEkE (recently on February 3rd in Finland). Outgassing, warm currents from submerged springs, and other causes are described: http://www.idniyra.org/articles/holes_in_ice.htm

All attempts to redefine "near miss" in terms of "hit" fail to recognise that a "hit" is an absolute quantity, whereas a miss by any missile (not a "hittile"!) may or may not have an effect on the target, and is thus relative. Depth charges are designed to work as "near misses", as accurate targeting underwater is problematic.

Should a star just a few light years away from our solar system go supenova, it would be a "near miss", but almost all life on earth could be extinguished in the gamma and other short-wave radiation storm that would follow just a few years later as the radiation passes through us, ripping apart the ionic integrity of our DNA and proteins. In the distant future, an alien cosmobiologist would find it difficult to identify what was the cause of the mass extinction.


RE: The curious case of the near miss

Quote (flyboytim)

Should a star just a few light years away from our solar system go supenova, it would be a "near miss", but almost all life on earth could be extinguished in the gamma and other short-wave radiation storm that would follow just a few years later as the radiation passes through us, ripping apart the ionic integrity of our DNA and proteins. In the distant future, an alien cosmobiologist would find it difficult to identify what was the cause of the mass extinction.
To take a less hypothetical example, I see Wikipedia says that Little Boy exploded 1,968 feet above Hiroshima, so it can arguably be called a "near miss". It just goes to show that the damage caused by a near miss can range from insignificant to virtually complete destruction of the target. Indeed, my understanding is that Little Boy was intentionally exploded above the target, so that the force of the blast would cover a wider area. Thinking about it makes me thankful I've never been in a position where doing my job to the best of my ability would, by definition, cause the maximum number of people to die.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

Thanks for that research, CajunCenturion.

Still, what's the deal after all this discussion?


>I was reading about the asteroid that will make a close approach to Earth tomorrow in what was termed a "near miss"
The asteroid was missing earth. And it was passing by very near. Makes it a near miss. I don't see anything wrong in that alone.

And even taking in the other examples:
near death: nearly dead
near drowning: nearly drowned

But you'd be making a mmistake to say
near miss: nearly missed

Near has another meaning in regard to miss.

Quote (CajunCenturion)

if two planes violate separations minimums but to not make contact, and the situation is described as a "near hit"
No, I found near miss describing that situation, not near hit. It's about the same situation as with the asteriod, the planes miss each other, but get dangerously close.

Bye, Olaf.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

If two planes get dangerously close, all these phrases -- 'near hit', 'near collision', 'near accident', and 'near miss' -- adequately describe the situation. Only one of them, however, is semantically illogical.

The semantic disconnect comes about because the phrase no longer carries the original meaning of the actual words, where it was a 'miss', but 'near' enough to cause damage or near enough to be somewhat effective. That's what the 'near' meant: near enough to cause damage. Today, there is no damage in a near miss; if there were, that event wouldn't be called a near miss. That's why 'near miss' IS an idiom; it does NOT mean what it says.

The meaning is understood, as are most idioms; however, that doesn't change the fact that the meaning of the phrase "near miss" is different than the meaning of the adjective 'near' applied to the noun 'miss'. And that, in a nutshell, is the semantic disconnect.

==> I see Wikipedia says that Little Boy exploded 1,968 feet above Hiroshima, so it can arguably be called a "near miss".
I would argue the position that they did hit the target because the target was an airburst between 1800 and 2000 feet AGL.

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RE: The curious case of the near miss

Regarding Little Boy, that seems to be mostly semantics. Yes, the bomb itself did not "hit" Hiroshima, but the explosion surely did.


RE: The curious case of the near miss

CC,

I agree totally with your semantic analysis. I do, however, see the logic of saying, "The two planes were involved in a near miss," meaning that the two aircraft were involved in a "near miss" versus, say, the daily occurrences of aircraft that are routinely in a "far miss" event. The semantic analysis would be that the planes missed each other in dangerously near proximity.

santaMufasa
(aka Dave of Sandy, Utah, USA)
“People may forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

RE: The curious case of the near miss

==> The semantic analysis would be that the planes missed each other in dangerously near proximity.
That's not a semantic analysis; that's the definition of the idiom 'near miss'. The reason that 'near miss' is an idiom is because is fails semantic analysis. The phrase doesn't mean what the individual words mean.

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RE: The curious case of the near miss

Quote (CajunCenturion)

the meaning of the phrase "near miss" is different than the meaning of the adjective 'near' applied to the noun 'miss'. And that, in a nutshell, is the semantic disconnect.
I still don't see that semantic disconnection everybody seems to see, but me.

Near has more than one meaning and you just have to think about the right one for the context, and then it's not an idiom. It simply means, what it says.

Now we could begin to argue f something can be called miss or hit, if there never has been any aim to hit or to miss.

If you insist on some of the menaings mentioned in http://www.thefreedictionary.com/near, which make a near miss not a miss, then you're right, but it's not necessarily that way. So what I would second is, that you can interpret this wrong so there are more precise terms you could use. But's far from being a clear case of an idiom.

If you insiss near miss must have the same meaning literally as near death, then you neglect the other meanings of near, don't you? If you insist near+noun always has to have the same meaning for near, then you're neglecting the variety and felxibility of language. You're seeing this too systematic in my oppinion. That's how you could press it into a rule, a higher order, or schema. That's the mindset of a developer, isn't it?

Bye, Olaf.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

==> If you insiss near miss must have the same meaning literally as near death, then you neglect the other meanings of near, don't you?
I don't believe I'm neglecting any definition of near; however, neither am I giving it a definition that it doesn't have.

Now, I'll be more than happy to discuss a grammatically valid parsing of any sentence with the phrase 'near miss' that doesn't have 'near' as an adjective modifying the noun 'miss'. We can see where that leads us.
Also, I'll be happy to consider any definition of the adjective 'miss' that means the affected noun IS realized. And we can see where that leads us.
But until then, I'll stand by 'near miss' as an idiom because that phrase does not mean what its individual words mean.

==> But's far from being a clear case of an idiom.
For what it's worth, 'a near miss' is defined in the same free dictionary you reference. It's found in the idioms section.
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+near+miss

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RE: The curious case of the near miss

Thanks for pointing to that idiom section.

I still see no idiom in it. A near miss is a miss and it occurred near.

I will never be convinced, I can rather live with having a false assumption about the english language. It's not my native tongue anyway. I only can agree it's an awkward description and I'll perhaps avoid it's usage, if it's so unpleasant for some here. For me it's really a very description of what happend in regard to the aseroid missing earth in a asronimacally near distance.

Just for the record. The meteroids hitting russia were not related to the asteroid 2012 DA14, which approached earth from south.

I doubt this will change your picture of that term, but all your efforts also don't change mine. Maybe I'm too illitarate for your arguments.

In your mindset it can only be described as a near hit as in 3b. Just barely avoided: a near hit by the incendiary bomb.
But a hit is a hit, a miss is a miss in this case. A near death is not a death. so those terms of near miss and near death don't compare.

Language always also get's it's meaning in context. A child plate isn't made of children, though a glass plate is made of glass. It's all about context. A near miss is a miss occurring near, that's what it says, that's not giving it a different meaning.

Bye, Olaf.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
@Olaf

My intent on starting this discussion was not to say that a near miss was wrong but to share how for me it describes something that is self contidictory.

A thing that, once noticed, never goes away

I have found that I've always been able to substitute an alternate term which for me removes a distasteful expression

An exact analogy (for me) is the use of the term "needless to say...".

"Suffice it to say..." is much better in my opinion and avoids the self contradiction.

With near miss, it is possible to misunderstand. Not likely, I grant you, but possible.

Needless to say...

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

Hello kwbMitel,

thank you, that's nice of you to say.

I see your intent. It nevertheless strikes me, how this term "near miss" can be seen so distasteful, while I see it perfectly describing the situation. Well, at least good. You may only describe it perfect with longer terms. For the sake of shortness of eg a head line "near miss" is a really good term in my understanding.

Maybe it's because I'm german, though we have the same double meaning of "nah", also and especially in regard of "Nahtoderfahrung" (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahtoderfahrung -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience).

I don't see how you can take this wrong, in the end it's a matter of taste, as one of the meanings of near as an adjective is "Close in time, space, position, or degree".

'Asteroid passes Earth close' would perhaps be better.

Bye, Olaf.


RE: The curious case of the near miss

(OP)
I used close approach in my original post

No one has yet noticed or commented on the substitution

Yes, this is personal taste, a pet peeve that I don't expect others to share but I wondered how others think none the less

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: The curious case of the near miss

As Douglas Adams has it on learning to fly:

Quote (Douglas Adams)

The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Chris.

Indifference will be the downfall of mankind, but who cares?
Time flies like an arrow, however, fruit flies like a banana.
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