A reader’s question led me to examine the term deep-seated, referring to an idea or a belief that is firmly rooted in someone’s mind. Some writers think that the term is deep-seeded. Indeed, I found a few instances of that use in the archives of The N&O and the Chapel Hill News.
In answering the reader’s question, I turned to Bryan A. Garner. In “Garner’s Modern American Usage,” he writes, “The true metaphor derives from horseback riding (deep in the seat), not from planting seeds deeply.” That’s a image that could help writers keep the idea in their heads — a rider on a hunter-jumper holding her seat as the horse leaps hurdles.
Professor Paul Brians also has an entry on deep-seated.
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