CRASH, v. and n.

Posted: 17 November 2015 in Uncategorized
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Crash, according to Jason Zweig’s new book, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, is defined as

To collapse or drop in price by a frightening amount; a broad and sudden decline that sweeps through a financial market. An onomatopoeic, or imitative, word that mimics the sound of something shattering, crash dates back in English to about 1400. (Craze, which takes its meaning from the supposedly distinctive fissures in a lunatic’s skull, likely shares the same root.)

Surprisingly, crash wasn’t a familiar financial term as late as 1817, when the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge described the typical credit collapse, in his Biographia Literaria, as “a rapid series of explosions (in mercantile language, a crash), and a consequent precipitation of the general system.”

When William Armstrong published Stocks and Stock-Jobbing in Wall-Street in 1848, he used the word repeatedly. However, at least in the United States, it then usually meant a sudden fall in a single stock, not in the entire market. A general drop in the stock market in Armstrong’s day was an “explosion,” a “break,” a “crisis,” or a “convulsion.”

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