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I found this sentence in my programming book:

You might be better off thinking of the block and the method as coroutines, which transfer control back and forth between themselves.

What does be better off mean?

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"Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar and be better off than you are, or would you rather be a mule." –  kiamlaluno Mar 17 '11 at 18:06

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The NOAD reports that the meaning of "be better off" is "be in a better position, especially in financial terms."

The sentence you wrote could be considered equivalent of the following sentence.

It would be better to think of the block and the method as coroutines, which transfer control back and forth between themselves.

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I think the 'might' part invalidates this answer. It seems the author was indicating that there are multiple approaches to the problem, and that while his initial explanation (which surely preceded the quoted text) was the most effective in his mind, during trial-testing the book or in previous editions he found that this alternative mode of though was effective in those who did not catch on to his original thesis. –  corsiKa Mar 17 '11 at 17:27
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@glowcowder: that might be the case; on the other hand, the writer may just be doing a little polite understatement, and really mean "you would be better off". –  Colin Fine Mar 17 '11 at 18:02
    
@glowcoder @Colin this is the only answer make sense to me, and did you guys suggest the opposite meaning? –  mko Jul 19 '11 at 8:25

It means it "might be a better idea to think of the block and the method as coroutines .."

The writer is suggesting an alternate approach to thinking about the subject, and expressing it as if it were your choice. It's a common English idiom.

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I agree with @colin's comment on the other answer - the use of "might" can be a polite understatement. Often, might be better off gets used after the canonical or common explanation of something, and then the author offers an alternative they think is superior without wanting to directly call the other method inferior or wrong. –  schodge Mar 21 at 22:16

In this context it means "You might gain a greater advantage" or "You might be well-served by."

The author is encouraging you to think about the problem in the way he has described.

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