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In the novel Dune by Frank Herbert, it says:

"Some day, lad," the old woman said, "you, too, may have to stand outside a door like that. It takes a measure of doing."

What does it mean?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It means that it takes a certain amount of effort, courage, energy or dedication to do it.

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I find it a strange phrase, though its meaning was immediately obvious to me. An ngram of "measure of doing", "deal of doing", "lot of doing" shows that it has always been less common than "deal of doing" (and was not recorded at all between about 1910 and 1950), but that since about 1920 "lot of doing" has been far more common than either of the others. – Colin Fine Nov 14 '11 at 10:40
Quoite possibly Herbert chose that particular turn of phrase because it's both unusual and easily understood. To make the old woman a little more "exotic". – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '11 at 10:52
I don't find it that strange a phrase. Googling "It takes a measure of xxx", we find quite a few instances of the phrase, with xxx being "accountability", "good angling sense", "self-delusion", "choice", "cockiness and self-assuredness", "self control", etc. Maybe it's a U.K./U.S. difference. – Peter Shor Nov 14 '11 at 11:52

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