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What does the phrase "before too long" mean?

Excerpt from where I read this phrase:

The response to the SDK has been quite good and I expect to start hearing about some great apps and success stories before too long.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is an oblique way of saying soon.

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In addition to what Jay said, sentences like this are usually a kind of emphasis. “before too long” figuratively means the exact opposite of “a long time long in the future”. This double negative (which is a form of understatement) is called litotes (thanks to RegDwight for pointing this out).

It’s the same as saying “not bad” when you actually mean “quite good indeed”.

Interestingly, the same exists in most other languages, and has always exists. For example, in Latin there’s the idiom “non ignoro”. “ignoro” means “I don’t know”, and “non” is just the negation. Thus, “non ignoro”, though literally translated as “I don’t not know”, in reality means “I know exactly“ (with emphasis).

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It means before it takes too long time. In your example it may mean in 1-2 years.

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@timur: Your meaning is totally different from Jay's? –  Gnanam Jan 13 '11 at 9:00
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I don't understand the downvotes on this answer. "Before it takes too long" is the same as soon. I'm not sure where the 1-2 year estimate comes from, but I don't think it warrants a downvote. –  Jay Jan 13 '11 at 15:18
    
@Gnanam: I don't get your point. I answered before Jay, so I did not see his answer. –  timur Jan 13 '11 at 15:53
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Well, I give you +1. I think your answer is just fine -- maybe someone is misreading it, and/or construing 1-2 years not to mean "soon." –  Jay Jan 13 '11 at 16:01
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IMO, downvotes should be for clearly incorrect answers. Personally I rarely downvote - if someone offers their take on a question, that's worth something, right? Unless it's clearly wrong. That said, what bothers me is the people who downvote and won't add a comment saying why. I think @timur's point that context is meaningful here is a valid one. –  DCookie Mar 23 '11 at 15:25

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