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#17322 - 01/27/01 09:45 PM Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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Rapunzel Offline
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I have long wondered about the difference in meaning or usage of the words offer and proffer. My Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary hasn't given me a satisfactory answer, so I thought one of you might be able to. Any takers?


#17323 - 01/27/01 10:54 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  

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i'm thinking that perhaps the pronoun "pro" or "pr-" lends connotations of action to the root 'offer'; meaning specifically "to offer forth". Proffer is commonly used in the legal field, for example when plaintiffs proffer hypotheses or case citations to support their claims. "Offer" has more generalized usage; you can "offer" to help someone carry something, but cannot "proffer" to do so (but now that i'm thinking about it, i suppose one could reasonably proffer an offer of assistance). OTOH, i think it's equally correct to "offer" an argument or to "proffer" one, but proffering carries a more aggressive, or active tone.



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#17324 - 01/28/01 07:31 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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Makes sense to me, bridget! I proffer you my thanks.


#17325 - 01/29/01 04:09 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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This sounds right to me too, bridget96. But specifically doesn't proffer carry a sense of 'social diffidence' - an offer that is made out of politeness or some other such constraint?


#17326 - 01/29/01 05:35 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  

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But specifically doesn't proffer carry a sense of 'social diffidence' - an offer that is made out of politeness or some other such constraint?


Good point, maverick... it occurred to me only as i was reading your post that 'proffer' generally denotes a measure of respect or humility (either genuine, or - in the case of the legal field - [court]imposed diffidence) on the part of the offerer for the person to whom the proffer is being submitted.

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#17327 - 01/29/01 06:11 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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mav asked of proffer an offer that is made out of politeness or some other such constraint?

Wow, how fascinating. While I grasp, and agree with, the sense of proffer you mention, the idea of politeness as a form of constraint has almost never occurred to me. On reflection, I can see that there are times when it has an element of artifice and compulsion about it, yet, for the most part, it seems to me no more of a constraint than respiration.



#17328 - 01/29/01 06:41 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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no more of a constraint than respiration

Now if only the world would march in step with you, Max...! I think that self-restraint grows from empathy too, though?


#17329 - 01/29/01 07:50 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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I think that self-restraint grows from empathy too, though?

Indubitably. Truth to tell, reading my post after it was sent made me feel slightly ill - the stench of self-righteous priggery was almost overwhelming.


#17330 - 01/30/01 09:54 AM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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doesn't proffer carry a sense of 'social diffidence'

I would agree with that, and, further, I believe"proffer" carries a connotation of direct transaction with a specified person or group. You can make an offer to the world in general - especially a "Special Offer - ends next Millennium - hurry and buy" - whereas you "proffer" something to someone in particular - "On behalf of the Misused Word Club, I would like to proffer our thanks to this evening's squeaker, Mrs Malaprop, for an entertaining and enlightening evening."


#17331 - 01/30/01 12:30 PM Re: Can anyone offer/proffer me an answer?  
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direct transaction with a specified person or group

Yes, I agree with you Rhu - you've caught a good nuance there.


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