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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


the maximum value is $100 million

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

up vote 4 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
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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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