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advance

I’d never really thought about how versatile a word advance is until now. It can act as a noun, verb or adjective, each of which has multiple meanings. Advance should get overtime pay. Most of the other words in the English language are veritable slackers compared to advance.

As a noun, advance can mean a prepayment of wages, salary or revenue that would otherwise be due at a later date. For example, if you are in desperate need of immediate cash, you might go to your boss and ask her for an advance, i.e., an early payment of some or all of your upcoming wages or salary. She might tell you to screw off. You might, because of your intense distress, become intensely upset about her response and turn horribly violent. That, in turn, could result in you being arrested and thrown in jail, where you will receive free room and board, thereby reducing the cash requirement that led you to ask for an advance in the first place. So it might work out for you after all. Good luck with that.

An advance can also be an improvement in a technology, methodology or science. For example, a paper mill might make an amazing advance in the science of toilet paper. At least, that’s what the marketers at the paper maker will claim.

Sticking with the noun meanings, an advance can also be a forward movement, such as a battalion’s advance in a war. In this context, contrast advance with retreat. Or, better yet, try not to get into this context.

Rounding out the noun definitions, although usually used in the plural form, advances can refer to an approach made to another person, usually with the hope, whether fulfilled or not, of you two getting naked and “doing the nasty,” as they say. Using this definition, you might say, “she rejected his advances.” You would particularly have cause to say that whenever I make advances toward a woman. Any woman.

Advance can also be an adjective. In this case it means either ahead of in time or in position. The term advance party might make use of both of these definitions—time and position. For example, the advance party, may arrive before the main party and reconnoiter or have meetings with the other parties. If they empty the bar at the party or parties before the others arrive they might hear a few harsh words about it from their colleagues.

That’s an example of an advance party arriving ahead of time, but it might also travel in front of the main contingent, which is intentionally following behind. This might be done when it is unknown whether the road ahead is safe. That way, the advance party draws all of the bullets, allowing the main contingent to stay safe. This is why it’s never a good idea to piss off the people in charge. Otherwise, you might be placed in the advance party.

One of the verb meanings of advance is to move forward toward an intended destination. For example, you might say, “He advanced toward the buffet table like a famished lion pouncing on an unsuspecting wildebeest.” If you do say that, you might not want to get between him and the buffet. Someone, namely you, might get hurt.

The moving forward can be in physical position, as suggested by the previous example, but it might also be a matter of moving, say, a science forward to greater heights, such as advancing the science of hedge trimming. Alright, it’s not a major accomplishment, but if we didn’t also celebrate minor achievements, most of us would have nothing to celebrate at all. Or maybe that’s just me.

Another verb definition of advance relates back to the first noun meaning I provided. If, instead of turning you down, your boss had agreed to give you the advance you asked fore, then it could be said that she advanced you the money. In that case, naming your daughter after her would be a nice gesture, but not strictly necessary by law.

Advance can also mean to promote or to be promoted in position. For example, you might advance to a senior manager position, thereby royally pissing off the other people who wanted the job and thought they were more qualified for it. I say, to hell with them! If they wanted they job they were free to sleep with the boss too.

You can also advance events in time. This is particularly useful if you’d rather that one or more of the original invitees to a meeting not be there. In that case, you might “accidentally” forget to send them the notice that the meeting has been advanced. What can you do? These things happen.

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