What does “Next” mean?

This is one of those linguistic imponderables, like “could care less” versus “couldn’t care less.”

Today is Tuesday. Earlier today I was speaking with a friend. I mentioned something that would be going down “next weekend.” He sighed in that way people do when you’ve tickled their pet peeve, and asked “Do you mean the weekend that starts in 4 days, or the one that starts a week after that?”

Then ensued an unwinnable argument. His side maintained that “this weekend” starts in 4 days, “next weekend” a week after that. My side thought his side was an idiot, and tried to explain “next weekend” and “weekend after next.”

Neither side surrendered. And naturally, it wasn’t until later that I thought of the defining example:

Suppose you’re driving down the highway, and your kid in the backseat announces he was to whiz. Just then you see a sign for kid-whizzing venues, “Next Exit.”

As you breeze by the exit, explain to the kid in the backseat “Oh, that didn’t mean THIS exit. It meant the NEXT exit.!”

About editor, facilitator, decider

Doesn't know much about culture, but knows when it's going to hell in a handbasket.
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