Monday, June 23, 2008

Our changing lexicon - subprime

These days, with the mortgage mess, we throw the term "subprime" around with some abandon and evilness to mean a loan given to borrowers of less-than-worthy credit and the root of the mortgage and credit market instability.

But Katherine Connor Martin, editor of new words at the Oxford English Dictionary, reminds us that subprime used to have an entirely different meaning way back in the, oh, 1970s. As early as 1976, subprime was being used to describe an especially desirable type of loan, one which charged less than the prime rate of interest and was offered only to the most reliable commercial borrowers.

How many of you remembered that?

Just another reminder of how quickly the lexicon changes in this media-sotted digital age.

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