I came across a sentence this morning on a page saying "...take social mileage out of his good behaviour...". So what does "social mileage" exactly mean here?

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  • Was it here? – Jim Oct 8 '13 at 4:41
  • See the second definition of mileage. – Matt E. Эллен Oct 8 '13 at 9:55
  • Please provide context and source for quotations. Meaning so often depends on context. Without context, others can often only guess at the meaning. – TrevorD Oct 8 '13 at 10:42
  • @Jim Yes, exactly. – Kevin Oct 9 '13 at 3:47
  • @MattЭллен: Thanks for the reference, so based on the 2nd definition, how to understand "I realized that Sandra and I had been getting social mileage out of our children's good behaviour"? Does that mean that our children's good behaviour could potentially bring benefits to us? – Kevin Oct 9 '13 at 3:53

Mileage is traditionally used to quantify the potential distance a car will travel before it needs some kind of maintenance (e.g. petrol, gas, repairs). It thus represents an abstract value.

The second Oxford definition for 'mileage' is: (thanks Matt Ellen)

actual or potential benefit or use to be derived from a situation or event

This is the sense in which milage is used here.

Social milage refers to the social value or feelings of goodwill towards a brand or company or any other entity (even though it is unlikely to be quantifiable). Its similarity to a vehicular mileage is in the fact that it refers to value that would only be obtained in the future (potential benefit).

In the case of the sentence you read, we can take it to mean that some man has behaved well and earned a sense of goodwill towards him from those around him. He probably hasn't benefited from that sense of goodwill yet but may well in the future.


I think the sentence means good behaviour of a person in society.The total life span of a peron is being measured in mileage.

  • The question is about the meaning of "social mileage". You should edit your answer to answer that question. – Matt E. Эллен Oct 8 '13 at 9:54
  • What do you mean by "The total life span of a peron is being measured in mileage."? How many miles is a total lifespan of, say, 79 years? – TrevorD Oct 8 '13 at 10:41

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