English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the movie Easy A, Emma Stone's character has the following conversation with her parents:

Mother: What's the rumor mill churning out these days, anything interesting?
Girl: You know, not really. Not really, it's a little low on grist.
Father: Whoa! Clever wordplay. I like it very much. You must be related to me.
Girl: Only by marriage.
Father: Give it to me.

I want to know the meaning of 2 phrases:

  1. It's a little low on grist
  2. give it to me
share|improve this question
I'm a native English speaker, and I haven't a clue what the first one is about. I've never heard of "grisp", and while the Urban Dictionary has an entry, it doesn't seem to fit. Are you sure you're not mishearing (but I can't think of anything it might be a mistake for)? – Colin Fine Jun 14 '11 at 11:26
It's grist, you need more context to understand. Edited. – z7sg Ѫ Jun 14 '11 at 11:33
@z7sg: Thanks, that makes more sense. – Colin Fine Jun 14 '11 at 11:49
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Grist is what you grind in a mill. Since the rumor mill is low on grist, that means there isn't much in the way of gossip these days. Grist to/for the mill also has the idiomatic meaning of "something that can be employed to someone's advantage" often when the something does not appear advantageous.

So the double meaning here is that there is not much gossip that she can exploit for her own ends. It really is a clever play on words.

The "give it to me" part I couldn't say. It could mean "tell me what little gossip you've heard" or it might mean "hand me that thing" or it might mean "keep up the witty reparté." There's really not enough context to tell.

EDIT: "Only by marriage" means that they are only related through marriage, not by "blood" or genetic ties. How this relates to their relationship, I don't know. Is he her step-father? In any case, she is teasing him; if they are only related by marriage then she didn't inherit her cleverness from him, which is what he is suggesting by saying "you must be related to me."

share|improve this answer
Hey, it's grist to the mill. :) – z7sg Ѫ Jun 14 '11 at 11:57
and what's only by marriage?? – Sergey Jun 14 '11 at 13:48
@Sergey See edit about "only by marriage." @z7sg Thanks. Damn prepositions. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 14 '11 at 14:36
@z7sg: Google Ngrams shows both "grist to the mill" and "grist for the mill." And looking at Google Book's examples of their use in the 1800's, "grist to the mill" originally meant profit or gain, and "grist for the mill" originally meant raw material. For example: "Luckily, there is no want of materials for this disposition to work upon, there is plenty of grist for the mill." and "But there is a dearth of workers in these fields; for it is well known that such work does not bring grist to the mill, at least to many." But it appears that even then people got these two idioms confused. – Peter Shor Jun 14 '11 at 16:54
@Peter Thanks for the search. I updated my answer again. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 14 '11 at 17:22

protected by Community Feb 21 '12 at 12:17

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.