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  1. #1
    David Czech is offline Newbie
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    Default the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    Hello,

    I would like to ask a question about stylistical classification of two similar adjectives, "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged".

    (1) "Fleet-footed" seems to be a comparatively common expression according to the Google search engine (I am a nonspecialist, sorry again for not using language corpora etc....). It is used about (esp. fast) animals (a gazelle, but also a goat, and even a duckling), sportsmen and sport teams like sprinters or football/soccer players ("a fleet-footed runner", "fleet-footed Flyers" - nice alliteration! - , "fleet-footed France" - The Independent about the French football team in Euro 2012, etc.), about other persons like soldiers ("the fleet-footed soldier": Amos 2,15 in the NIV 2011 translation of The Bible) or police officers, about the Greek god Mercury and even about financial transactions („fleet-footed moves“ – made by the private fund managers).

    (2) "Fleet-legged", on the other hand, is definitely by far less common (just a few hundreds of occurrances on the Google, and many of them from one and the same source, namely Rachel Carson). It seems to be used - today - mostly about fantastic creatures and beings in fairy tales or hero stories (flying horses etc.). I found one occurrance in the sports context, about a sprints champion („the fleet-legged star“), but just in one old newspaper (The Courier News 1941). In one (reliable) source is has been used about time („The great newspaper problems consist in an endeavour to outstrip fleet-legged time.“) and a well-known American writer Rachel Carson used it in her book „The Sense of Wonder“ (1963) about the ghost crabs ("… ghost crabs, those sand-coloured fleet-legged beings…“).

    Is even the second form still convenient for use, acceptable in current English – I mean, could I still use it about, say a short-distance runner and not to sound ridiculous?

    Thanks

    David

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    I wouldn't use it.

  3. #3
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    I would never use it either. Hermes had wings on his ankles, not his knees.

  4. #4
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Czech View Post
    Hello,

    I would like to ask a question about stylistical classification of two similar adjectives, "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged".

    (1) "Fleet-footed" seems to be a comparatively common expression according to the Google search engine (I am a nonspecialist, sorry again for not using language corpora etc....). It is used about (esp. fast) animals (a gazelle, but also a goat, and even a duckling), sportsmen and sport teams like sprinters or football/soccer players ("a fleet-footed runner", "fleet-footed Flyers" - nice alliteration! - , "fleet-footed France" - The Independent about the French football team in Euro 2012, etc.), about other persons like soldiers ("the fleet-footed soldier": Amos 2,15 in the NIV 2011 translation of The Bible) or police officers, about the Greek god Mercury and even about financial transactions („fleet-footed moves“ – made by the private fund managers).

    (2) "Fleet-legged", on the other hand, is definitely by far less common (just a few hundreds of occurrances on the Google, and many of them from one and the same source, namely Rachel Carson). It seems to be used - today - mostly about fantastic creatures and beings in fairy tales or hero stories (flying horses etc.). I found one occurrance in the sports context, about a sprints champion („the fleet-legged star“), but just in one old newspaper (The Courier News 1941). In one (reliable) source is has been used about time („The great newspaper problems consist in an endeavour to outstrip fleet-legged time.“) and a well-known American writer Rachel Carson used it in her book „The Sense of Wonder“ (1963) about the ghost crabs ("… ghost crabs, those sand-coloured fleet-legged beings…“).

    Is even the second form still convenient for use, acceptable in current English – I mean, could I still use it about, say a short-distance runner and not to sound ridiculous?

    Thanks

    David
    Fleet-footed should be generally understood as being able to run fast. I have never heard fleet-legged before. It sounds somewhat comical to me. As a general rule, if the feet are running fast, the legs are right there with them.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    I've never heard it and wouldn't use it.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  6. #6
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    By the way, ghost crabs could be said to be "fleet-legged" because they are fast and they don't have feet.
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 06-Jul-2013 at 08:37.

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    By the way, ghost crabs could be said to be "fleet-legged" because they are fast and they don't have feet.
    I don't know what they are but from that description I think I'm quite scared of ghost crabs!
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 06-Jul-2013 at 08:37.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: the adjectives "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged"

    I haven't met 'fleet-footed'. It seems to me it might be a Bowdlerized version of the archaic/poetic 'fleet of foot' (Google: About 31,300,000 results...) as against 'fleet-footed' (Google: About 636,000 results ...). I know which I would prefer - in the right context, I might even use it. But then, I'm funny that way.

    b

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