0

I'm familiar with the somewhat colloquial turn of phrase "nowhere near as ... as" / "not anywhere near as ... as" to say "far from being as ... as".

However, I'm a little less familiar with the idiom "none the more …" meaning, I gather, "far ... from being".

And so, I wish someone would tell me whether the expression "none the more ..." is safe to use interchangeably with "far from ..." in formal and not so informal contexts, or definitely belongs to informal, colloquial usage and, as such, should be best avoided in formal style.

E.g.:

They only half believed us and were none the more friendly... [source]

... to my taste, it was none the more becoming for being fitted over broken stayed-bones... [source]

... the individual returns home poorer and none the healthier. [source]

7
  • Notice that 'more' is a comparative form. It is necessary to have a comparator: They only half believed us and were none the more friendly (ie they were not more than 'half-friendly'!) (better, as you imply, read as 'far from being friendly'). One uses 'far from being' as a quantifier without any need for a comparator. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:24
  • @Edwin: I'm not sure that's strictly true. You're entitled to your opinion, nonetheless. But what exactly does the comparator less reference there? Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 17:00
  • There must be a comparator. After checking the context in OP's link, it is probably They only half believed us and were none the more friendly [than they would have been had our clothing not been so obviously hard-used']. (It _would be nice to be provided with sufficient context.) // Do I need to point out that it's "a little less familiar with the idiom Z than with W and W' " (though not put grammatically)? OP's later example has 'than it was / would have been' as the implied comparator. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 17:09
  • 1
    @Edwin: there is indeed a comparator, but I think you've identified the wrong one. The original is "You are Germans?" they asked politely. So we said "Of course not." … They only half believed us, and were none the more friendly for that. So they weren't any friendlier to them than they would have been to Germans which, considering this is during World War II, is presumably not very friendly at all. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:33
  • I take it as "they were not particularly friendly to us even though they thought it possible we weren't Germans".
    – nxx
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:38

2 Answers 2

3

I would say that it is the idiom "none the wiser" that you are thinking of. This means

to still be confused about something even after it has been explained to you

I would then surmise that the authors of the sources you have given have simply substituted other adjectives into this saying.

This Ngram shows that "none the wiser" has been used significantly more than "none the richer" or "none the healthier", but that "none the richer" actually predates "none the wiser" in print. I can't speak for whether "none the + comparative" was once a standard form, but certainly it only really caught on with "wiser".

enter image description here

Nonetheless, with reference to the common idiom, we can assume that these other uses mean "still not [something], even after [something]."

Your third quote, in context, supports this:

it is clear that the medical establishment was unable to help their condition and after expensive tests and manifold prescriptions, the individual returns home poorer and none the healthier

That is, they are still not healthy, despite having sought treatment at a medical establishment.

With an adjective that takes "more" in the comparative, rather than an -er ending, we would of course then have "none the more", eg, "none the more beautiful".

To address your queries: it is not the same meaning as "far from", and is nonstandard outside of the idiomatic "none the wiser"; as such, it is best used in informal contexts.

4
  • +1 I had similar thoughts. The general form is none the... as you say. None the more shouldn't be conflated with nonetheless. For example "Great as are our privileges, we are none the more safe" glottopedia.org/index.php/Dative_alternation This in no way can be taken to mean "higher privileges make one nevertheless more safe", as nevertheless would imply something that contradicts expectations. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:00
  • Yes, and it should not be taken as the opposite of "nonetheless" either! I'm actually having trouble figuring out whether your example means "still not safe despite our great privileges" or something else.. I think it's "more safe" that's throwing me.
    – nxx
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:19
  • I think we're on the same page. Another way to say it is "not any safer (none the more safe) despite our greater privileges". Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:23
  • Good point about "not any"! I would just expect "none the safer" over "none the more safe".
    – nxx
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:28
1

Comparatively speaking, none the more is virtually non-existent...

enter image description here

I would say that OP's cited usage (from about 70 years ago) is highly likely to be misinterpreted by the modern reader. What it actually means is they weren't very friendly to start with, and the fact that they were suspicious certainly didn't help. But I (and probably many other readers) could easily mistake an exceptionally uncommon usage for a very common one with a completely opposite sense.

Nonetheless, it's also worth pointing out just how comparatively uncommon both forms are...

enter image description here

That's to say, for the best part of a century, nearly everyone has used the single-word form for the common idiom. But I doubt there would be any single-word instances of OP's already-rare term.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.