4

Yet another a part of Circular Staircase, by Mary Rinehart:

"Not out in the hall!" she gasped; "Oh, Miss Rachel, not out in the hall!" trying to hold me back. But I am a large woman and Liddy is small. We got to the door, somehow, and Liddy held a brass andiron, which it was all she could do to lift, let alone brain anybody with. I listened, and, hearing nothing, opened the door a little and peered into the hall.

Are any words omitted in the sentence that includes let alone brain anybody with? Something looks missing from this sentence.

closed as unclear what you're asking by tchrist, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, andy256, TimLymington, Daniel Dec 21 '14 at 13:31

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    The answer to the question you’ve asked is no — or in full: “No, no words have been left out.” We cannot answer your real question, however, because you have not told us what it is yet. Why would you think words went missing here? What bit isn’t connecting up the way you are thinking it should? – tchrist Dec 21 '14 at 3:34
  • 4
    @tchrist - If the idiom 'to brain [somebody]' is unfamiliar to the questioner (who is therefore unable to make grammatical sense of it), one possible inference on the questioner's part is that something necessary for proper comprehension could have been omitted from the sentence; but what likely starting point would the questioner have to hypothesize what that missing something was? If you had instead asked them "Did you actually look up the word brain to check all the ways in which it can be used?", then I would have agreed with you. – Erik Kowal Dec 21 '14 at 3:59
  • 1
    The question is clear, and the answer correct. I cannot fathom why this was put on hold; there are clearly several members if the community who understand it. Perhaps the vocal VTC minority should consider the possibility they are missing something. – James McLeod Dec 21 '14 at 14:10
  • 1
    @JamesMcLeod If that’s what the OP meant, she should’ve said so—but she didn’t. Plus it’s GR if so! We don’t know what she doesn’t get: syntax, definitions, punctuation, connotation, &c. She needs to edit this post to say exactly what she’s talking about and to show her previous research so we can see where her confusion lies. She’s been a member here for a year now: she should know all this, and how to format things, too. Her question history shows a consistent pattern here, one which needs work. – tchrist Dec 21 '14 at 15:58
  • 1
    I would be the first to admit that I suffer from a deficit in the creativity department, but I cannot for the life of me think of another way to interpret this question outside of what its title says: What does "let alone brain anybody with" mean. I would accept GR for a closure reason. – James McLeod Dec 21 '14 at 16:07
13

To "brain" someone is to hit them on the head, usually with some sort of heavy object. The implication of the quote is that Liddy would not have been able to use the andiron as a weapon.

  • I think she just can’t figure out the parse: hence the missing-word question. This won’t format prettily in a comment, but I don’t think she realizes that her sentence actually parses out to something like this: (S (NP (NNP Liddy)) (VP (VBD held) (NP (NP (DT a) (NN brass) (NN andiron)) (, ,) (SBAR (WHNP (WDT which)) (S (NP (PRP it)) (VP (VBD was) (NP (NP (DT all)) (SBAR (S (NP (PRP she)) (VP (MD could) (VP (VB do) (S (VP (VP (TO to) (VP (VB lift)) (, ,) (CC let alone) (VP (VB brain) (NP (NN anybody)) (ADVP with)))))))))))))))) (. .)). – tchrist Dec 21 '14 at 3:26
  • I don’t see this as answering her question, because I can’t tell what her question is. Maybe you’ve guessed it, but maybe you haven’t. I’m withholding judgement until she tells us her real question. – tchrist Dec 21 '14 at 3:36
  • 1
    If the Op's question, "What does 'let alone brain anybody with' mean?", seems quite clear to me and @Hot Licks gives the correct answer. It seems that a colloquialism, conversation between people so familiar with each other's speech that they are able to converse in a form of oral shorthand without loss of meaning, prevented the OP from arriving at the sentence's import. Omitting words is the hallmark of colloquial speech and the OP noticed that. – user98990 Dec 21 '14 at 6:09
  • 1
    The question is quite clear (stated in the heading, with context added in the body), and this post answers it. IMO too many questions get closed as "Unclear ...". – andy256 Dec 21 '14 at 11:50
  • 1
    @EllieKesselman - I think it's LISP. – Hot Licks Dec 21 '14 at 15:30

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