four score and seven years ago

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Literally, 87 years ago (score sense: “group of 20”) the beginning of the Gettysburg Address made on November 19, 1863, by United States President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).[1] The widespread familiarity of Lincoln’s address, the unusual and poetic wording, and its status as the first words of the speech have caused the phrase to enter the public consciousness.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈfɔː skɔː‿ɹən ˌsɛvən jɪəz əˌɡəʊ/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈfɔɹ skɔɹ ən ˌsɛvən jɪɹz əˌɡoʊ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: four score and se‧ven years ago

Adverb[edit]

four score and seven years ago (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic, often humorous) Used (sometimes sarcastically) to indicate that a past event being mentioned is particularly important: a long time ago; many years ago.
    • 1936 April 16, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Address at the Dedication of the New Department of the Interior Building[1]:
      It was established four score and seven years ago, and since that time its activities have been intertwined with the internal development of the Nation itself.
    • 2010 December 23, Phillip Roth, “Prologue”, in The Great American Novel[2], →ISBN, page 21:
      I imagined momentarily that it was four score and seven years ago, that I had just been brought forth from my mother []
    • 2012 February 20, Vicky DeCoster, “The Letter”, in The Wacky World of Womanhood[3], →ISBN, page 93:
      Four score and seven years ago, I began writing an annual letter to be enclosed in my Christmas cards.

Alternative forms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abraham Lincoln (19 November 1863) Dedicatory Remarks (Gettysburg Address, Nicolay draft): “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that ‘all men are created equal’[sic]

Further reading[edit]