Please explain “freshly minted” in this sentence: He was then a freshly-minted master’s graduate.
This means that he, whoever that is, had just got his master’s degree. “Freshly minted” means he was new, newly given the master’s degree, which is a cut above the bachelor’s degree.
Well, this phrase has nothing to do with mint the aromatic plant which is used to liven up a dish or a drink.
It has to do with coins, actually. Coins are made by stamping metal and that process is called minting. And the place where coins are made is called the mint. In fact, in English, mint was synonymous with money, making a mint, for example, means making money, especially a lot of it.
Coins that are freshly minted, i.e. freshly out of the mint or the money factory are shiny and bright, spot clean. By extension, gradually, anything that’s shiny and bright is said to have that freshly minted look.
In other words, anything that’s freshly or newly minted is new, fresh, newly produced.
Therefore, as it is in our example sentence, he who was then a freshly-minted master’s graduate had just finished his post graduate studies.
His master’s degree was fresh and new.
Simple as that?
Yes, simple as that.
And, no more ado, here are a few recent media examples of “freshly minted”, meaning, simply put, new:
1. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
These are the words written in the Declaration of Independence by men who undoubtedly experienced the hardships of a life without legal protections. Thanks to their foresight and wisdom, our country has flourished. Citizens are free to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unencumbered by an overreaching government. Well, most of us are, anyway.
Those with Japanese ancestry during World War Two might beg to differ. In fact, they might agree with James Madison’s assessment of Constitutional Rights as nothing more than “Parchment barriers.” Easily violated when a big enough majority decides it is best. Perhaps even when that majority is only constituted by a small number of elected officials.
Following September 11th, 2001, for example, torture was once again on the table for prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Never mind the fact that torture was banned in the 1890s under the 8th Amendment. Of course, once word got out of its existence, it was quickly abandoned. Unable to sweep it under the proverbial rug, politicians instead rebranded it as “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” and challenged its qualification as torture.
These examples are easy to ignore, as in most cases, they aren’t really Americans, but instead they fall into the slightly more nebulous category of enemy adjacent. Their rights to be protected under our laws is arguable. Some weren’t citizens at all, others were freshly minted citizens whose loyalty could be disputed. Although, in the case of Japanese internment, 80,000 out of the 12,000 of those affected were second or third-generation Americans.
Closer to home, we need only look to the US military to find numerous examples of these “Parchments Barriers” being trampled underfoot. Although a US service member is sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, it seems they are not truly protected by it during service.
For example, a service member who violates the law outside of a military base can be tried in civil courts and punished accordingly. After being released by the civilian authorities, that service member can then face the Military justice system, where he is tried for the same crime in a military court. So much for protection from double jeopardy. The irony of a clear violation of the rights of a person who is sworn to protect those same rights is apparently lost on those in Washington.
- Constitutional Rights? They’re Conditional at Best, PatrioticNeighbor.com, February 18, 2021.
2. Admit it. As parents, it’s happened to the best of us. At 6 pm, your quarantine wanders into your kitchen-now-home-office and utters the words no Covid-wearied, multi-tasking parent wants to hear: “I need heeeeelp.” The onion you just chopped sizzles on the stove. Your eyes move to the text of the Gettysburg Address that is glowing on your child’s cell phone screen. Four-score and seven years ago. Your laptop chirps: incoming message from your boss. The onion burns.
What if you hired a tutor?
For parents who have the economic means to hire a tutor, this old school educational arrangement may seem like a pandemic-ready panacea. Who wouldn’t want a freshly minted college grad handling that essay on the Gettysburg Address? What could go wrong?
Plenty, says Anne Pomerantz, Professor of Practice at Penn’s Graduate School of Education. As an educational linguist, she has been studying tutoring sessions for years. Her data tell us this: Good tutoring is all in the interaction. So, if you’re thinking about hiring a tutor – or helping your children with their schoolwork yourself – read on.
- What to look for in a tutor, UPenn.edu, March 8, 2021.
3. There’s an old joke about economists that I've always liked. A junior professor goes to his senior colleague with a brilliant new idea. The older man dismisses it. “That may be fine in practice,” he sniffs, “but it will never work in theory.”
Economists are like that, at least many of them. They don’t like to have reality intrude on their abstractions. One of the best examples has to do with mobility. Years ago, I read an article by a prominent economist downplaying the problem of a small-town factory that spews out pollution. What’s the big deal, he asked. There must be another town nearby without a soot-belching factory. The residents of the first town could just move over there. Pretty soon the polluter would get the idea.
It works in theory. But it isn’t the way most people behave. They don’t like the idea of uprooting themselves. This may be because they don't want to leave their friends and relatives, because they cling to hometown memories and traditions, or maybe because they just don't feel like cleaning out the garage. In any case, they don’t move. Or if they do, they don’t go far away.
The question of mobility has come up a lot in the past year as the entire country has been forced to deal with the ravages of the coronavirus. Economists and their libertarian acolytes have forecast an outpouring of affluent Americans from virus-plagued cities to safer rural climes. Free-market polemicist Kristin Tate exulted recently about a flood of “fresh college graduates and new parents” lighting out for healthier territory. “Employees who were once tethered to corporate buildings downtown can now trade Brooklyn for Mayberry.”
We have heard this before. Back in 1997, the British economist Frances Cairncross published her widely read book The Death of Distance, which suggested that breakthroughs in communication would allow knowledge workers to do their jobs at home and that the result would be an emptying out of urban downtowns and a stampede to smaller, quieter places. It didn’t happen. Downtowns didn’t shrink; they grew. As recently as 2018, the share of Americans working remotely was somewhere between 3 percent and 5 percent.
Nor did Americans do much relocating after the Great Recession began in 2008. Their most common response was to stay where they were, even if there might be a glimmer of an opportunity lurking somewhere in a distant corner of the country.
The pandemic situation, of course, could be different. Freshly minted college graduates, free to work at home, might have the option of giving up Brooklyn for Mayberry. But they wouldn’t do it to escape the plague, at least not if they kept up with what was going on. COVID-19 infection rates haven't been any better in most of rural America than they have been on big-city streets. As of the end of February, Surry County, N.C., where the fictional Mayberry was located, had suffered 140 virus deaths in a population of just a little over 70,000.
- Where Americans Are Moving — and Why They Really Are Doing It, by Alan Ehrenhalt, Governing.com, March 10, 2021.
About the author:
Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.