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What does this phase "fling oneself on his/her face" mean in the following context?

Winston promptly flung himself on his face.

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  • Does a dictionary help? [flung himself] Admittedly there is a subtle difference between "flung herself on his bed" as per the example there and "flung himself on his face". If the dictionary doesn't help, please edit the question to explain why not.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 20 '13 at 6:49
  • Look up flung, himself, & face in the dictionary, seriously.
    – Kris
    Nov 20 '13 at 7:14
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    It it a weird expression so don't be so patronising, @Kris. Taken literally, one would expect the person smashing his face into the ground
    – mplungjan
    Nov 20 '13 at 7:27
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There is a rocket bomb about to hit, Winston hits the deck to not be hit by flying debris.

Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

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  • That is not an idiom, not a set phrase or a colloquialism. As such it comes down to literary interpretation. OT.
    – Kris
    Nov 20 '13 at 7:12
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    @Kris, I seem to recall that in books of the time (Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949) to “fling oneself on one's face” was more or less a set phrase for ducking down or getting to cover. So I disagree with your comment. Nov 20 '13 at 7:22
  • books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – mplungjan
    Nov 20 '13 at 7:25
  • @jwpat7 To see how more or how less a set phrase something is, mplungjan's ngram helps: books.google.com/ngrams/… vs. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Kris
    Nov 20 '13 at 10:21

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