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A goal remote in the pursuit is so easy to lose sight of.

What does "a goal remote in the pursuit" mean here? I don't understand it structure-wise.

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  • Please elaborate on your question.
    – user63241
    Jan 27, 2014 at 18:22
  • I would say that it means a goal that you are working toward (pursuing) is still far off. If you're asking about the sentence structure, the remote in the pursuit part is an adjective phrase that modifies a goal.
    – JLG
    Jan 27, 2014 at 18:30
  • @SoylentGreen: I was wondering if birdman1234 wanted the grammatical structure or the global structure of the sentence.
    – user63241
    Jan 27, 2014 at 18:39
  • @birdman1234: No, I don't think so. I think it means "a goal you are trying to accomplish which is in its infancy".
    – user63241
    Jan 27, 2014 at 18:59
  • I haven't heard that construct before, but it sounds like "Can't see the forest for the trees". Jan 27, 2014 at 19:00

1 Answer 1

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I'd say the effect of this rather curious construction is to give an "archaic" flavour to a latter-day "pseudo-adage". Structurally, remote is an adjective modifying the goal. Normally it would come before the noun, but here you could say it's a post-positive adjective (coming after the noun).

To further complicate things, remote is modified by the additional adjectival clause in the pursuit.

Or (as per the Wkipedia link above), you could say it applies elision to the underlying structure...

A goal [that is] remote in the pursuit is so easy to lose sight of.


As to meaning, it's just saying if your goal is too ambitious/far in the future, you risk losing sight of it (being distracted by day-to-day activities you only undertook originally in pursuit of that goal).


EDIT: Comments (and a downvote!) may indicate not everyone is happy with the basic format...

an X that is Y in the Z
a [noun] that is [adjective] in the [noun/gerund]

As I said initially, it's a "curious" construction, which I would not advise less competent speakers to experiment with. But although I wouldn't say it's exactly "productive" today, here are a few related examples to show the basic format[s] are used elsewhere...

broad in the beam (jocular "wide-hipped", of nautical origins)
far in the offing (usually, in negated forms)
masterpiece in the making (i.e. - in the process of being made)
long in the writing (i.e. - where "the writing" is a lengthy process)
long in the construction (just to show that the noun isn't always a gerund form)

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  • 'Remote in the pursuit' sounds pseud in the extreme. 'A remote goal' is sufficient. There are only 5 hits on Google. Jan 27, 2014 at 23:28
  • @Edwin: So tell us something new. Those five Google hits consist of two to this question plus two irrelevant accidental collocations (one duplicated). But the structurally-identical far in the offing is far from dead yet. And there might be a lot of false positives, but good in the eating certainly exists. Jan 28, 2014 at 1:07
  • Try googling "tiger in the pursuit" -"in the pursuit of", and substituting other animals. I'd say it's just not used. And notice that the construction here is of the form 'Adj in the Y'. Examples of regularly-used constructions of this type are fairly rare and unpredictable. "Remote in the chasing" and "remote in the hunt" show no Google hits, though 'in the hunt' is a well known collocation. 'In the pursuit' usually parallels 'in the 100 metres'. Finding a few examples of a string does not guarantee acceptability. Jan 28, 2014 at 5:52
  • But tiger in the pursuit means the tiger we are chasing? the tiger remote in the pursuit is "we are chasing this tiger but its still remote." ?
    – user41481
    Jan 28, 2014 at 5:59
  • You can't just string together a few related-looking words and demand that people come up with the meaning you desire. 'Tiger in the pursuit' is undefined to me. Jan 28, 2014 at 6:22

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