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Author Topic: literary phrases that dont mean anything  (Read 1875 times)
Talia
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Muahahahaha


« on: July 10, 2009, 02:29:54 AM »

so I'm reading an otherwise wonderful book, Brandon Sanderson's 'Mistborn,' when I came across the phrase, 'paled slightly.'

and I had to wonder.. does anyone, ever, really, "pale slightly"? Have any of you seen someone "pale slightly"? Does it ever actually even happen?

I've seen people go ghost white and I've seen people beet red, but I've never seen anyone "pale slightly".

I am also curious about other phrases that don't seem to have a genuine real life applique. I'm sure they exist.
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2009, 08:26:48 AM »

Not to totally nip a potentially interesting thread in the bud but - sure, people "pale slightly" all the time.  I mean, I've certainly seen it.  When someone is possibly going to faint, some of them pale a bit (generally, blood moving from their head to their extremities) while others will go white (not to even mention variations in skin tone).  It doesn't seem that odd to me at all (plus, there's an alternate reading that you haven't considered - someone blanching - or going "ghost white" as you called it - and then immediately recovering, so that the "slightly" of "paling" is referring to time, not intensity of color).

But, really, seen it quite frequently.  Tell someone their mother is dead and they will blanch.  Tell someone their dog is dead and they might pale slightly.  Obviously, there are a wide variety of human beings with a wide variety of physical/health states experiencing a wide variety of stimulus in the world - why would it be unlilely that such things could happen, even if they haven't been experienced by you?
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Not-a-Robot
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2016, 05:05:54 AM »

I find this topic extremely interesting, so I am going to try to rejuvinate this thead. I come across phases, or misuses that I cannot figure out all of the time. Other phrases drift from the original meaning quite a bit.

Not to critisize an editor or anything, because this is common usage, but this is the case for Sgarre's opening sentence

Quote
Not to totally nip a potentially interesting thread in the bud

The original phrase "nip in the bud" actually refers to pinching off a bloom on a plant that is malformed or problematic. You nip in the bud.  Over time it has change to nip it in the bud or nip something in the bud which really doesn't make much sense.  Should we leave it as is when writing or try to change the usage back to sense such as:

Not to nip in the bud on a potentially interesting thread...?
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Not-a-Robot
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Now 100% biological and 3 x more optimism!


« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2016, 07:43:02 AM »

So here is another one, I just read a story (not a bad story either) and the author had one character insinuate herself into a crowd. At a different part of the story a different character, when sitting with a group of people, insinuates herself into the chair.  I understand the crowd, but how does one physically insinuate oneself into a chair? Would there be stronger or better words to use there like, slide, creep, wriggle or worm?
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Kabal
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 06:50:04 PM »

One of the definitions of insinuate is: maneuver oneself into (a position of favor or office) by subtle manipulation. So it would make sense and be appropriate if the character beat out someone else for the seat by some action (subtle manipulation).
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