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I noticed two different phrases were used to express the same or similar things in the article reporting Rick Perry’s recent campaign in New York Times (November 19).

Under the headline, “Perry Ad Seems to Take Aim at Republican Rivals,” body copy immediately follows:

“Rick Perry‘s poll numbers may be lagging. But he still has millions of dollars to spend on ads and that effort now appears to be turning its sights on his Republican rivals.”

Is there any difference of delicate nuance between “take aim at” and “turn its sights”? I’m curious to know why the writer rephrased the words. Simply for avoiding redundancy?

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Take aim and turn its sights could mean different things, just slightly. Take aim is simply that; they are targeting something. Turn its sights on implies that its sights were already on something, and now the focus has changed. I think that those are the only differences between the two phrases, and they probably used two different phrases to avoid boring repetition.

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Not so much to avoid redundancy as to avoid repetition, I’d have thought. The sentence in the copy is not distinguished by its elegance. That effort presumably refers to the effort that can be sustained by his millions of dollars. Whether an effort, as opposed to those who might make the effort, can even figuratively turn its sights on anything, I leave to others to judge. My knowledge of firearms is rudimentary.

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"My knowledge of firearms is rudimentary." - your mastery of irony is anything but. –  JeffSahol Nov 20 '11 at 0:13
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