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From this article:

Judge Alsup did take the unusual step of appointing his own damages expert. That independent expert valued the patent case at south of $5 million, and valued the copyright case at south of $100 million.

It sounds like it means either:

the minimum value is $100 million

or:

the maximum value is $100 million

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1  
I think it means "below $100 million." "South" can be slang for "below" or "under." –  J.R. Jun 25 '12 at 22:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

"South" here means less than, a meaning derived from the fact that south is down on most maps, and that smaller numbers are often conceptualized as physically "lower" than larger ones.

Therefore, to select one of your alternatives, the maximum value is $100 million.

(Although this usage of south feels colloquial, it isn't particularly common - I wouldn't advise using it either in everyday speech or in formal writing. The author is presumably using it here because he's aiming for a casual, light-feeling journalistic style.)

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Maps used to have east at their tops: hence orientate. –  tchrist Jun 26 '12 at 0:36
    
I believe the use of the phrase "North of <amount>" to mean "more than" is more common than using "South of" to mean less than. –  David Schwartz Jun 26 '12 at 6:59
    
@DavidSchwartz -- I'm with you. I hear "north of" used all the time; I'm not sure I have ever heard "south of" before. –  Malvolio Jul 17 at 0:08

It means "a little bit less than". So "south of $100 million" might turn out to be, say, $96 million or $98 million.

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Since south is always below your map point, that's why people likes to use this phrase as a lower or below direction, so using north is the opposite way.

If you use south of a number you mean, the number you're referring to is lower/smaller than/ below of the number you mentioned. North is the bigger or above side.

Ex: North of 100 is just above the 100, you don't give any specific range but usually accepted as small amount bigger than 100, lets say 101,102

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2  
Welcome to ELU.SE. This answer repeats another answer given two years ago, and accepted (that is "south" is less or lower than). There is no point in giving the same answer as one already posted, I'm afraid. –  Andrew Leach Jul 16 at 23:52

protected by tchrist Jul 17 at 0:39

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