Deep-seated notions

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.

Here is a Language Log entry about the same term.

Professor Paul Brians also has an entry on deep-seated.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.