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I am reading a book and I came across a phrase I don't understand:

A newspaper office seems to attract every conceivable sort of person, to the prejudice of discipline.

I don't know what to make of "to the prejudice of discipline". Can someone please explain?

Please search the text of the book for the context.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In this case:

  • prejudice means "detriment; damage".

prejudice:

  • [..]
  • damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.
  • to the prejudice of: to the detriment of.

(source)

  • discipline means "behavior in accord with rules of conduct".

  • "to the prejudice of discipline" means that the discipline suffers because the newspaper office attracts all kinds of people. The next sentence from the book shows an example of this:

Zenana-mission ladies arrive, and beg that the Editor will instantly abandon all his duties [..]

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1  
I believe it has an Army origin, conduct prejudicial to the maintenance of discipline being (at the time) a useful charge to bring when nothing else fitted. Even if not, it has a military echo that was certainly intended. –  TimLymington Jan 4 at 23:29
    
@TimLymington Thanks for the extra information, it sounds like it's quite appropriate for this Kipling book. –  Szabolcs Jan 6 at 1:09

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