Thursday, October 9, 2008

Words I'm Looking Up (One in an occasional, cleverly named series on words I'm looking up)


Hmmm. I could have sworn that the last time I looked this one up there was a hyphen in the adjective form. Nope.

Webster's New World, Merriam-Webster online,, and American Heritage all list the adjective as one word, no hyphen. It means, primarily:
Supplied, installed, or purchased in a condition ready for immediate use,
occupation, or operation: a turnkey computer system; a turnkey housing project.

I don't like it as one word. It's too close to "ternkey" -- a new Thanksgiving entree I just made up that could be a surprisingly affordable alternative for anyone who lives near a beach.

(Yes, I'm kidding. Please don't call PETA on me.)
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Joel said...

I don't like it as a word, because it's overused and it's a lie. Every form of technology these days is one-stop, push-button, WYSIWYG, paperless wonderful. New and improved, the best thing since sliced bread. Like campaign rhetoric, it's both duplicitous and pretentious. And, as often as not, to the extent that a "solution" is "turnkey," what that really means is that you're stuck with someone else's idea of what your workflow should look like.

That having been said, because this is an unfortunately common term in my sad little world (God help me, I'm a technology professional and really I love it, but I swear I could so easily be a Luddite), I like the fact that it's unhyphenated, like "email" should be. It just feels less complicated. Hyphens are a turnkey solution.

But if you promise me that by throwing in a hyphen we could give it the kiss of death, I'd be with you. In other words, my vote is for sale. As if I have a vote.

RE PETA, as I've been recently reminded, "Meat is murder: tasty, tasty murder." [Please note that my obnoxiousness is not June's fault and this isn't her editorial insertion.]

June Casagrande said...

Yeah, it's become one of those words like "synergies" or "proactive" that fails to say what it means yet says plenty that it doesn't mean. (Like, "I'm a corporate cheesehead trying to get your money" and "I was once in a frat.")


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