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A comment below the question Does the current “fainting” of Betelgeuse show any spectral trends that differ from it's normal variability? suggests that "dimming" would be a better term, but I have a hunch that the use of the term "fainting" in this context is more than just a choice of synonyms for decreasing in brightness.

A quick check in google scholar for "variable star fainting" returns many results that seem to use fainting in deliberate way.

Question: When we say a variable star is "fainting" does it mean more or different than "dimming" or "fading"?

"bonus points" for any history on the term; was it first used by someone speaking proper English rather than that horrible derivative they speak in the US? ;-)


If we don't get an authoritative answer here in Astronomy SE in a few days, I'll think about moving this to English SE or History of Science and Math SE.

In the mean time it would be great if people could refrain from:

  1. suggesting it would be "better asked" elsewhere
  2. posting speculative or low-quality answers, which will make it impossible for me to then move the question by myself

Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Merriam-Webster lists "to become weak" as an archaic meaning of the verb. Etymology.com states that this meaning dates back to ca. 1300, while the more usual modern meaning is from ca. 1400. Not sure why this appears to be the preferred term in an astronomical context though. $\endgroup$ – antispinwards Dec 31 '19 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ I think right here on Astronomy is the best place to ask this question, even if it doesn't get a quick answer. The most likely reaction on English Language & Usage (on which I'm relatively active) would be knee-jerk closure for lack of research, and a recommendation to refer it to the SE site most appropriate for the specialist usage of the word (i.e. here on Astronomy!). If it lingers here without an answer, why not offer a bounty? $\endgroup$ – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jan 7 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ @ChappoSaysSEDuddedMonica Thanks, yes I've had mostly good but mixed results in English SE with space word questions; launch cadence, dumb mass, Ephemerides, Nasa vs NASA, space jellyfish, dog-leg, very historic. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 8 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ I also have some experience with bounties in Space and Astronomy $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 8 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ yay! Betelgeuse has its own tag now $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 19 at 7:39

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