Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What does it mean if someone says that "you're a minefield of information" - after you gave them some useful information. Perhaps they meant "mine of information"? What do both those phrases mean?

share|improve this question
5  
If someone says "you're a minefield of information" they're either not a competent native speaker, or they're making a somewhat obscure joke implying that asking you about anything may be dangerous (because your information is unreliable, perhaps). Whatever - it's Too Localised. –  FumbleFingers May 28 '12 at 22:00
1  
Related (somewhat belatedly): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malapropism –  Mark Bannister Jul 18 '13 at 11:41
1  
To summarize the comments, this phrase is a mistake or humorous. The natural phrase is a metaphor 'a mine of information', a person that is chock full of interesting facts. Changing that to 'minefield' would mean that each little (very mixed metaphor) of jewels would explode on you, a great mistake in understanding, or a very particular sardonic statement about someone's knowledge base. –  Mitch Jul 18 '13 at 12:57
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Minefield is often used figuratively to refer to something dangerous – to something that may seem harmless, but really isn't. NOAD reads:

minefield (figurative): a subject or situation presenting unseen hazards : a minefield of technical regulations.

There's also a common idiom: he knows just enough to be dangerous, which is used when someone has just a little bit of knowledge about something, but is not very proficient. That little bit of knowledge can give a person a false sense of confidence that can eventually lead to trouble. (For example, if you know a little bit about engines, you might start taking one apart, only to find out you're not going to fix the engine – and you might even have trouble putting it back together again.)

Minefield of information is not an established idiom; it might have been misspoken, misheard, or else it's someone trying to say something humorous, playing off of mine of information, which is used to refer to a person or database where much valuable information can be gleaned. If that information is sometimes faulty, one might say something like:

Watch out for Wikipedia! It's a minefield of information.

which I think reads rather clever, but it's not an established idiom. That said, it's not completely original, either; others have used it.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for excellent example Wikipedia is a minefield of information. The rest of the answer is all good too, even though I think the question itself is too localised. As you say, it's not an established idiom - as a witticism it's probably been "coined" repeatedly, but most usages are probably just ignorant "mixed metaphors" anyway. –  FumbleFingers May 28 '12 at 23:06
add comment

This is rather late in the day for the question, but I only now stumbled upon this thread...

The expression "minefield of information" may be a reference to an Afrikaans novel, "Griet Skryf 'n Sprokie" by Marita van der Vyver (apparently "Entertaining Angels" in English). In it, the protagonist at one point tells her best friend, after he (as is typical for him) told her an obscure fact:

You're a veritable minefield of useless information - I never know when the next explosion is going to hit me [translation from the German version mine, quoted from memory]

This is pretty self-explanatory, I suppose. I always thought it a rather clever image - but of course it only makes sense if the second part isn't left out.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The idiom I'm used to is "a gold mine of information about X," meaning someone who's willing and able to tell you a whole bunch about X. Here's a (not very detailed) verifying link.

share|improve this answer
    
Per this NGram, the word "gold" can precede "mine of information", but usually it doesn't. –  FumbleFingers May 28 '12 at 22:03
1  
+1. Clearly "minefield" is a mis-spoken version of "gold mine". –  Mechanical snail May 29 '12 at 2:30
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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