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I came across the phrase, ‘a clip of’ in the following line of the article titled ‘A Man in Shadow’ appearing in Time magazine (July 16).

In a capital full of bluster and backroom deals, the quiet economist has long been admired for his (Manmohan Singh)restraint and personal integrity, characteristics that played a large part in his being handpicked by Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi for the nation's top job in 2004. During his first term, India's economy reached a clip of 9.6% growth.

As I first thought ‘a clip of’ (9.6% growth) is an idiom meaning ‘as fast (high) as,’ I consulted with Cambridge, Oxford, and Merriam-Webster online English dictionary, none of which carries “a clip of” as an idiom.

Then I searched Google, in which I found the following examples of the usage of ‘a clip of,’:‘

  • A Clip Of Reality — YouTube

  • This is a clip of our article for MTV. The writer Beverly Bryan did such a wonderful job of writing about Morning MUSUKO. — morningmusuko.tumblr.com

  • Here is a clip of the performance we did 2 days ago for the opening of much music video awards in Toronto!! Campaigning — iamhok.tumblr.com

However, none of these examples seems to be relevant to ‘a clip of’ (X % growth) composition in the above article.

It seems to me “clip” in the above article simply means “speed, “ or “pace.” But I’m yet not sure of whether ‘a clip of (X% growth)’ is an idiom, or a mere set of words. Which would it be?

Does ‘clip’ here mean ‘speed’ as Readers English Japanese dictionary at hand renders the meaning of ‘clip’ as (collocual) 1.hit. 2.speed, velocity. 3.one time, once.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In the context you provide, the words fast pace could be used in place of clip.

During his first term, India's economy reached a fast pace of 9.6% growth.

I can see how this would be a difficult one to figure out from the dictionary. NOAD has two entries for clip, with several diverse meanings listed. In the Time article, clip is being used as a noun, in the sense of Meaning 3:

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To answer your question directly: no, it's not being used as an idiom, it's just a set of words.

Incidentally, in your other cited examples (i.e., a Clip of Reality (from YouTube) or a clip of the performance), that would be an example of the first bullet under Meaning #1, referring to a video clip, (or, in the latter case, perhaps an audio clip).

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1  
This is the correct answer. –  Robusto Aug 18 '12 at 9:27
1  
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs considers at a fast clip to be an idiom. –  coleopterist Aug 18 '12 at 14:04

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