I'd like to know what 'squeeze every drop of meaning and enjoyment' means in the following. B is said to be a more specific version of A, but I suspect that 'squeeze every drop of meaning' is not a negative evaluation, unlike 'he did not like it' in A. I don't understand why B is said to be a version of A.

A: The writer wrote a three-page critique of the painting in which he said he did not like it.

B: In his three-page critique, the art critic squeezed every drop of meaning- and enjoyment- out of the 3-inch by 3-inch pastel.

I'd appreciate your help.

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    I think to squeeze every [last] drop of X out of Y is such a common (and transparent) figurative usage this is General Reference. It has no inherent positive/negative connotations. – FumbleFingers Aug 2 '14 at 16:29
  • @FumbleFingers Do you agree that sentence B is not a specific version of A? – Apollyon Aug 2 '14 at 16:35
  • The two sentences don't really have much in common, so it doesn't mean anything to ask if one might be a "version" of the other. – FumbleFingers Aug 2 '14 at 16:39

Squeeze every drop of meaning and enjoyment out of X is an idiom,
and an example of the cognitive phenomenon known as The Conduit Metaphor.

This metaphor governs most discussion of communication, language, and meaning in English.
It includes the idea that some "container" X has Meaning "inside" it, and that, by examining X, one may "extract" its Meaning. This counts as "understanding X".
Like all metaphors, this is actually quite false.

Usually the conduit metaphor is used for human speech and writing

  • I had to absorb Einstein's ideas gradually
  • His deepest emotions went right over her head
  • We couldn't get all that stuff into our brains in one afternoon

but in this case it's applied to a

3-inch by 3-inch pastel

i.e, a crayon drawing. And since the Meaning of a drawing, like a concerto, is rather vague,
Meaning can be thought of as a vague mass, like a liquid. And there are lots of verbs for liquids.
To squeeze all the Y out of X means to take out all the Y that is in X, so that there is none left.
But the object of squeeze must be a mass noun representing a liquid or very small aggregate.

In any event, it means to do something completely, and that takes competence. In this case, the critic is described as doing the "squeezing" in the space of three pages. That's around a thousand words, and that's the proverbial norm. So it doesn't have any negative connotations.

As to why the source presented it that way, I can't really say. It would depend on the motives, competence, and knowledge of the source, whatever it is. If it's from an online "English grammar" or "Learn English" site -- Beware.

There is a lot of really bad "grammar advice" out there. Most of it is free, but it's all too expensive.

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This is interesting, because I would say that in example B, the expression 'squeeze every drop of meaning and enjoyment' is being used in the opposite sense to that in which it is more usually employed, but it makes equal sense.

I would normally squeeze every last drop out of something I was really enjoying, like an orange. However, in your example, it seems as if the pleasure is being squeezed out in the way that you might wring a dirty dishcloth. The three page criticism has effectively rendered the pastel dry, meaningless and unenjoyable.

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To answer your question, I'll quote from the source which (I assume) you are reading-

Words with specific meanings give your readers a mental picture that allows them to see what you see and understand what you are thinking. General words such as said or animal are useful but sometimes fall short of expressing an idea clearly and may leave readers uninformed. To communicate effectively, use specific nouns, verbs and modifiers. Notice how the following examples become more interesting when specific verbs replace overly general ones.

General: Tom got into his car and drove off

Specific: Tom leaped into his SUV and roared off

Here, notice how the usage of words like "leaped" and "roared off" communicate a more clearer picture of the sentence, than the words in the "general usage". "Roared off" depicts a picture of the strength(power,torque) of his SUV, and even Tom himself(leaped).

Instead, if the sentence would have been

Tom got into his SUV and drove off

there would be nothing specific/special about the sentence that would depict qualities about the SUV, or for that matter, Tom himself.

Similarly, in your examples, again from the same source:

General: The writer wrote a three-page critique of the painting in which he said he did not like it

Specific: In his three-page critique, the art critic squeezed every drop of meaning- and enjoyment- out of the 3-inch by 3-inch pastel.

B is indeed a specific version of A. The words "squeezed every drop of meaning and enjoyment out" clearly show what a harsh critic the writer was. It implies that the critique by the writer extended beyond mere "dislike".

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  • What does 'sequeeze every drop of meaning' mean? To me, it seems to mean the critic interpreted an artwork in as much detail as he could, so that there was nothing left to be explained. – Apollyon Aug 2 '14 at 16:42
  • Why would you use "squeeze every drop of meaning and enjoyment out" if you were merely interpreting something? The word "out" itself suggests a strong dislike. And squeezed every drop is used because the object in question is a painting. – Manish Giri Aug 2 '14 at 16:47
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    I reckon my interpretation was inspired by 'squeeze every drop of juice out of an orange'. Since this is not a negative evaluation of the orange but describes a person makes the most of it, 'squeeze every drop of meaning and enjoyment' would naturally imply 'interpret an artwork to the fullest and to someone's enjoyment. – Apollyon Aug 2 '14 at 16:50

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