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I was watching How I Met Your Mother when I heard a conversation between some actors and it just bounced over me. But from the background I could hear people laughing and I was sitting static without getting a single point:

It started like this:

Robin: Look at that guy, I had a crush on him long back

Ted: [sarcastically] That guy is like a four.

Robin: Oh , if he is like a four then what are you.

Ted: Then I am eight and... a half.

Later that guy [sarcastically] talking to someone on phone about Ted. He is "a two."

Can anyone please explain what does this conversation imply?

  • why downvotes without a comment ? – Prateek Aug 31 '13 at 9:58
  • Not my downvote, but I'm wondering if someone might have thought this would have been more appropriate on English Language Learners. At any rate, don't re-ask this question over there, but you might want to check out that community for your next question. – J.R. Aug 31 '13 at 10:17
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    @J.R. This could have been moved to that rather then voting it down . even without an explanation to it via comments – Prateek Aug 31 '13 at 10:30
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    That might not even be the reason for the downvote, but I like promoting ELL to those who might not yet be aware of it. It's a fairly new site. As for the real reason for the downvote, who knows? I agree that it can leave you flustered when there's not a word of explanation. – J.R. Aug 31 '13 at 10:59
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The numbers are ratings on an imaginary scale of sexual attractiveness, with 10 being drop-dead gorgeous and 1 being thoroughly repulsive.

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    Brian, I'm not able to understand the nuances of the English language, especially when sarcasm or irony are involved, so I wont to ask you if we can infer that Ted and Robin are gay. Are they? Also, is Robin a name that tends to be correlated with man gayness, as someone who criticizes Batman's stories says? – user19148 Aug 31 '13 at 8:53
  • @Carlo_R., Robin is a girl (Ted’s ex-girlfriend). So no, they are not. :-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 31 '13 at 9:02
  • @Janus, thank you, I do not know that television series and, before your comment, I was almost sure that Robin were a male name :-) – user19148 Aug 31 '13 at 9:07
  • It can be both a male and female name. The spelling variant Robyn, however, is (in my experience, at least) exclusively used for women. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 31 '13 at 9:09
  • @Carlo_R. Don't worry. I've never even heard of the TV series - and there's no indication where it's from; I'm assuming it's American. And I also automatically assumed that Robin is a male - but I didn't take in the "I had a crush on him long back", which would have been a good clue (to me) that Robin might be female. – TrevorD Aug 31 '13 at 12:05
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As Brian Hooper already explained, the lingo is a shorthand way of rating someone's sex appeal.

When I read this question, I started to wonder about how this 1-to-10 rating scale may have become much more widespread in the vernacular after the movie 10 starring Bo Derek. One entry in the UD (not authoritative, I know) seems to back that theory:

Top grade woman (= 10 out of 10). From the movie '10', featuring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek.

At any rate, I remember my uncle explaining back in 1979 or 1980 what the film's title meant: “Have you seen the movie 10? No? Well, first let me tell you what a ‘10’ is...”). If my memory serves me right, the “she's an eight; she's a ten” remarks seemed to take off from there, becoming much more ubiquitous after the film.

I'm not claiming that the film was the first to use that subjective scale; I'm guessing that the “on a scale of 1-to-10” rating system was used in various contexts long before the movie (such as in gymnastics, for example). However, to simply say “She's a 7” without any kind of “on a scale of 1-to-10” prefix or suffix seemed to become much more common after the film's release.

The Ngram is interesting but inconclusive, because of hits on things like “she's a ten-year-old girl,” and “she's a ten-to-one favourite,” and even “What size is Kelly?” “She's a ten.”

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    I have similar memories connected to that film. For a long time it was generally agreed that Bo Derek score was a 10. But the rating of 10 was geared toward physical perfection, rather than sex appeal. You can be seen as sexy without necessarily being beautiful or handsome. Funnily enough, I don't recall anyone (at that time) giving Dudley Moore a rating. – Mari-Lou A Sep 14 '13 at 11:51
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Ted is implying that his penis is 8-1/2 inches long. The rest of the discussion has indeed been about rating people on the 1-10 scale, but when Ted adds the "and a half" we realize he means inches. The humor is both from the context change and the sexual reference.

  • lol great that's more contextual :D – Prateek Sep 2 '13 at 6:36

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