No shelf life


USA Today has an article on Bill Cosby with the headline Bill Cosby prides himself on comedy that has no shelf life. I thought that was an odd thing to have pride in: comedy that’s out of date as soon as it’s out of your mouth. But then the entire piece was about how timeless his comedy is.

Google, please! On the one hand,

Young Coconuts are perishable and have virtually no shelf life at all. (link)

Unlike our regular growler selections, cask ale has no shelf life and is highly perishable. (link)

There is basically no shelf life on expensive caviar, two or three days so plan to plan accordingly. (link)

On the other hand,

If you want a safer product that will last much longer in the fridge, add a bit of acid blend or citric before its cooked. Pomona is a citrus based product that has no shelf life like regular and no/low sugar types. (link)

REAL black powder has no shelf life if stored well. Substitutes like pyro and trip 7 im convinced loose effectiveness if several years old. (link)

Flashlight Batteries – 10 years (the flashlight can be recharged forever and has no shelf life) (link)

As far as distilled spirits go, like your Bacardi Limon (YUM!), or your whiskey, an unopened bottle has no shelf life. (link)

Excellent. I think the “lasts forever” meaning is more common, but for whatever reason it’s not what came to my mind first when I saw the headline. I guess it sort of means, “it has nothing which you would call a shelf life, i.e., lasts forever,” as opposed to “it has a shelf-life value value at or near zero.”

I was trying to think of other expressions like this. What first came to mind was what I (once upon a time ) thought “priceless” and “no/little love lost” meant. (apparently originally the latter was in fact ambiguous, but I don’t know if anyone still uses the “they’re still good buds” meaning anymore).

1 Comment so far

  1. klinton on October 24th, 2009

    you’re not alone – the ‘lasts forever’ meaning is completely new to me! I’m pretty sure I’ve exclusively heard ‘no shelf life’ only in the first context…