In the opening prologue to the novel A Game of Thrones, two sentences left me with questions:

The great sentinel was right there ať the top of the ridge, where Will had known it would be, its lowest branches a bare foot off the ground.

What does bare mean in that sentence above?

Will slid in underneath, flat on his belly in the snow and the mud, and looked down on the empty clearing below.

And what does flat on his belly mean in that one?

  • 3
    There are many formatting devices in English orthography, and in the software here, by which you may make your questions more intelligible to readers. I have edited this question with some examples; please take note of them, and do your answerers the courtesy of following them in future. Apr 23, 2014 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Bare in that sentence means “without anything else”. A bare foot implies that it is describing the distance as no more than a foot.

Essentially, the author is saying that the branches are very low to the ground. Because the branches are very low to the ground, Will has to lie down to crawl under them. Flat on his belly means that Will is lying on his stomach, flat on the ground. He must crawl on his stomach to get under the branches because they are only a foot off the ground.

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    Yes, a bare foot means the same as barely a foot. No, bare does not mean the same as barely, here or elsewhere. Apr 23, 2014 at 21:38
  • You're correct, my answer was poorly worded. I'll rephrase.
    – Mordred
    Apr 23, 2014 at 22:01
  • i appreciate youur aid, cheers - btw çan i see cheers as synonym for saying thank you? Apr 23, 2014 at 22:30
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    You can say cheers for thank you in many parts of the English speaking world (including mine, British). I don't know whether it is used everywhere.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 23, 2014 at 22:51
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    The phrase is unfortunate, because bare foot is a very common collocation (also as the adverb barefoot) but normally refers to a person's foot. That is not what is meant here, which is foot the measure.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 23, 2014 at 22:53

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