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After the holidays, so much to unpack!

The Monitor's language columnist on the usefulness of the suitcase metaphor.

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It took me quite some time to unpack from my holiday travels this year – because I was looking into some more metaphorical "unpacking."

Have you noticed the use of unpack to mean explain, clarify, or comment on?

A blogger taking issue with a cable TV interview with one of the Republican presidential candidates started out thus: "There was a lot to unpack in Wolf Blitzer's interview with GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich...."

A headline at the website for WBEZ, Chicago's National Public Radio station, referred to an episode on the station's "magazine" show as "Unpacking another year in the saga of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich."

Off in mellow British Columbia, a blogger in the Times Colonist's spirituality section wrote at the new year that there is "a classical Zen response to the problem that life is hectic and complicated" and went on, "In this piece I want to try to unpack this idea."

Even Christmas got "unpacked," it appears, along with all the gifts beneath the tree: A headline last month in Inspire, a British religious magazine, read, "Two family shows will help unpack the Christmas story in Hampshire this year."


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