What's with all this about "rising third-year student" or "rising articles editor," where "rising" means "incoming" (e.g., someone who is about to enter his third year or has been selected to become an articles editor on the new editorial board)? I've been seeing it a lot over the last few months, and I don't recall ever seeing it before. Some queries do reveal that the term has been around for at least several years, and the meaning seems related to some old meanings that I saw noted in the OED, but it just seems to me that is has suddenly become much more common.

I find the term somewhat annoying (not wrong, just annoying) in the way that new jargon will sometimes (but not always) strike people as annoying, especially when there's a good substitute for the term ("incoming," as I said) and the term seems vaguely self-congratulatory. But that's an esthetic judgment that's hard to argue about. I was hoping that someone might enlighten me about the more descriptive matters of whether the term is indeed getting more popular, and why.

Arvin (mail) (www):
I first heard it at UCLA, I think, when someone said they were a "rising 2L" in response to a question.

I think it's getting popular simply BECAUSE it's more descriptive (vs. "I'm a 2L") AND sounds elegant (at least to me). I'm an "incoming 2L" just doesn't have the same ring -- and it can also mean transferring in. Whereas "rising" clearly conveys that one is not yet a 2L, but will be one in the next semester. Additionally it has the implication that one has finished with a certain level, and is rising to the next one. In law school, many of us need all the prestige we can get.

I've never heard it used in the context of Board (LR or MC) positions before though. We referred to the new Board as either "the new Board" or "the incoming Board". I'm not sure why "rising Editor in Chief" or "rising President [of Moot Court]" just doesn't sound right.
7.19.2006 2:27am
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
It seems to me rising, and incoming have other, more popular, application. :)
7.19.2006 2:28am
mh (mail):
I heard the term "rising" in high school, and I graduated from high school in 1992, so I don't think this term is new at all.
7.19.2006 2:36am
Some Guy.:
A classmate called herself a "rising 2nd year" today. Struck me as kind of snobby or possibly just annoying, but I'm from Iowa, so what do I know about elegance....
7.19.2006 2:40am
cirby (mail):
Makes me think of yeast.

Or blobs of dough.
7.19.2006 2:48am
William Spieler (mail) (www):
I'm not sure why "rising Editor in Chief" or "rising President [of Moot Court]" just doesn't sound right.

Because at least "rising 2L" carries an implicit connotation of what you are rising from.
7.19.2006 2:49am
stealthlawprof (mail) (www):
It seems hard to describe a student who is already here as incoming, so I can see "rising" (which I find awkward but useful) in that context. On the other hand, an editor is either in office already or is incoming; rising seems inapt as it implies a bit of inevitability that does not apply to an elected or appointed position.
7.19.2006 2:49am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Well, an incoming 2L is coming into the 2L class, even if not into the school, no?
7.19.2006 3:08am
The Voice of Reason (mail):
Eugene, the obvious answer iS NO SPLIT INFINITIVES ABSENT OCTOPUSES!!!!
7.19.2006 3:22am
john dickinson (mail) (www):
I first heard it as a "rising sophomore" in college. It seemed to be pretty standard usage, and distinct from "incoming sophomore," which meant you were a transfer student.
7.19.2006 3:23am
some guest:
I'm from the southeast, and I heard this even back in elementary school, e.g., "I'm a rising 5th grader" (for reference, I'm in my late 20s). So I don't think it's a new thing. New to L.A. maybe?
7.19.2006 3:29am
John Armstrong (mail):
I also heard it 15-20 years ago. Maybe it's a northeast thing that's just now getting to LA?
7.19.2006 3:32am
The Divagator (mail) (www):
"Rising" as such as been around at least since I was a kid, but I've only heard it applied to students. It's particularly useful in discussing college athletics during the off-season, e.g., "during spring practice, John Doe, a rising junior, established himself as the team's starting quarterback." This use eliminates the confusion of whether Doe will be a junior or senior during the next season.
7.19.2006 3:33am
Duke4 (mail):
I've definitely heard this many times. I'm sure it was used in my own highschool experience as in "the rising seniors" etc. I am quite surprised that this terminology isn't universal--it seemed everyday to me.

I wholeheartedly concur with stealthlawprof. It's why one would talk about the "incoming freshman class" and the "rising sophomores." I think both "rising freshman class" or "incoming sophomores" would be incorrect--or at the very least, awkward. Classes of students is the context where I would be most likely to use "rising."

Rising seems to work fine in this context, considering for example one OED definition: "Advancing in fortune, influence, or dignity."

I wonder if perhaps it's regional? I'm an NC native.
7.19.2006 3:39am
Employers (especially in finance) have been posting job listings at schools looking for "rising seniors" for many years now. I guess it spread.
7.19.2006 3:59am
The Voice of Reason (mail):
Incoming sounds too militaristic, like one is in a trench during a carpet-bombing. By contrast, rising has an effervescent and sensual feel. "Yeah, baby, I'm rising." "Don't you mean incoming?" "Ooh, I think you're right..."
7.19.2006 4:59am
JohnO (mail):
I see the term "rising" used most often in describing high-profile high school basketball players on the summer AAU circuit. Reporters call someone a "rising" junior to make clear that the kid is going into his junior year rather than having just ended his junior year.
7.19.2006 4:50pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
It seems weird to refer to someone as "incoming" to the 2L class because one thinks of one's class as staying the same all three years (absent leave of absence). I wouldn't consider myself an "incoming" 3L unless I skipped a year of law school. I agree with those who say that "incoming" should refer to 1Ls, people who have been chosen for positions, etc., and "rising" should refer to 2Ls, 3Ls and any move that occurs naturally without external action.
7.19.2006 5:38pm
Jacob T. Levy (mail):
Add me to the chorus-- I've heard this usage at least as long ago as my college years (1989-93), and it sounds more natural to me than "incoming" for someone who's going through the usual class progression within the same institution.
7.19.2006 6:38pm
Clay B:
I've always understood "rising" in this context to mean "becoming more prominent." But maybe I was misunderstanding.
7.19.2006 9:14pm
I heard the term used in this manner, in high school, in the 1960's.
7.20.2006 12:13am
Charlie Eklund (www):
This is the first time I've ever heard this phrase. I guess that makes me a rising hipster.
7.20.2006 12:43am
Shalom Beck (mail) (www):
May be a Hebraism, since it is a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase "oleh le"

Further evidence of Jewish dominance of the legal profession in general and legal academia in particular?
7.20.2006 5:48am
Not a Hebraism. Quite common in this area too, for years.

Get over the Jewish dominance thing, eh? Remember the Holocaust? -- have a bit of humility.
7.20.2006 8:40am
I believe it's pretty old (Victorian period or earlier), at least in British useage. "Rising two" has long meant 'coming up on' two o'clock or two years of age or some such.
7.20.2006 8:52am
My reading is that "rising" does not mean "incoming." It means something more like "up and coming." You often see the word paired with "star," as in "rising star." When used to describe yourself, like in a resume or cover letter, it is certainly self-laudatory. So another good translation would be "Prima Donna."
7.20.2006 9:38am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I heard it back in the 70's in Junior Highschool, and thought it sounded pretentious then. I know that "Mr. Mojo Risin was an anagram of Jim Morrison, (Like "Axel Rose" and Oral Sex, did it have any deeper meaning?
7.20.2006 10:04am
'Incoming' implies joining the class or school for the first time. Students are incoming freshmen, but rising sophomores, for the reasons others have stated; you're part of a class that is moving up to the next year.

It eliminates confusion during the summers when it's not quite correct to describe oneself as a 2L, but neither is it correct to describe oneself as a 1L. It has nothing at all to do with prima donnas; I've heard it used to describe elementary school classes.
7.20.2006 12:56pm
Yah, but we were talking about "rising" not "incoming." Totally different.
7.20.2006 2:10pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I can't beat Lev for age, so I'll just join the chorus, emphasizing that it's most useful during summer vacation. How else do you unambiguously indicate that someone has completed the 4th grade, has never in any way been a 5th grader, but will be such the next time he or she is at school?

("Sixteen going on seventeen" doesn't disambiguate, it adds fuzzy information. "Five and a half" (or 55 1/2 to withdraw from your IRA) adds different information. "Age at next birthday" just allows the life insurance company to charge you more sooner. And "Ten going on fifteen" describes my precociously sullen daughter.)

And why wasn't I able to read the VC for the past 36 hours? It's obviously been active.
7.20.2006 5:23pm
Luis (mail) (www):
It sounds much like the rather archaic "rising 12" to indicate that someone is about to turn 12 years of age. (Or any other number, of course).

I have never heard or seen the usage Eugene is asking about, however, at least not until today.
7.21.2006 12:25pm