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What is the meaning of down to the?

E.g. in this statement:

In order to use this feature, the statements must be exactly the same - down to the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters.

My understanding of the above statement is that the statement must be exactly the same, including the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters.

Am I correct? If not please correct me.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Your understanding is correct.

The phrase 'down to' is used to convey a sense of doing something in great detail, often with the implication of a 'wider' starting point, e.g.,

He cleaned the car from top to bottom, from washing and waxing the paintwork, down to polishing the wheels and vaccuuming the carpets

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There's also down to the wire, meaning that something is not completed until the very last moment (whether by procrastination, unavoidable delays, or even very close results). http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/down+to+the+wire http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/down_to_the_wire http://www.knowyourphrase.com/phrase-meanings/Down-to-The-Wire.html

For other "down to" expressions: http://esl-bits.net/idioms/id174.htm

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