Some confusing terms

I’ve noticed that the term “coed”, as a noun, seems to be used as a synonym for “female college student”. Which strikes me as odd, as presumably it is short for “coeducational”, in which case it should apply to any student at a coeducational school, male or female. Yet I can’t recall the term ever being used to refer to a male student. And I may be mistaken, but I thought I heard someone on “Max Bicksford” being referred to as a “coed”, which is even more strange since he teaches at an all-female college, and I would therefore think that none of his student can be properly called a “coed”.

Then there’s the term “DOA”. I here it constantly on “NYPD Blue”, usually to refer to someone that the cops find dead. I thought it stood for “dead on arrival”, as in someone who arrives to the hospital already dead, yet most of these people are not arriving anywhere. Is this common usage? Or is Sipowitz just weird?

Here is a definition of coed


That means Bicksford is wrong.

You are also right about DOA. This just goes to show you that either the TV writers are not linguistic wonders or they don’t think we’ll notice.

Couldn’t DOA mean the person was dead when they (the cops) arrived?

It seems to me that “DOA” was simply co-opted by others from the medical profession. That is, it may have originated in the hospitals, but since the dead guy will eventually go to the hospital (or coroner), where he will eventually be pronounced “dead on arrival”, the police folks simply cut out the middleman and refer to the body as a “DOA” then and there.

Ponitless anecdote, but the coed thing can cause confusion. When I was in high school there was a debate that was described as coed. It was clear to most of us that they were just saying that it was a debate for both sexes (although I’m not sure why they bothered to point that out, nobody would assume a public school debate would be gender specific). One older male teacher who had been at a college when it went coed only signed up girls because to him coed meant female. Since when it went coed that meant girls were added so they refered to the girls as coeds, and he had never really parsed the meaning of the word since then.

Aha. Even the natives are a tad confused. Here’s a (very) recent thread on the matter:What is a “coed”