The following quotation has been taken from The Mark on the Wall by Virgina Woolf.

Tumbling head over heels in the asphodel meadows like brown paper parcels pitched down a shoot in the post office!

What does shoot mean here?

  • 2
    It's a misspelling of chute. Or, at least, if anyone but Woolf had written it, I'd call it a misspelling.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


A shoot can be:

: a narrow tube or passage that things and people go down or through
source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chute

Dictionary.com lists the following meanings under the origin and history of shoot:

"young branch of a tree or plant," mid-15c., from shoot (v.). Also "heavy, sudden rush of water" (1610s); "artificial channel for water running down" (1707); "conduit for coal, etc." (1844).

So we can see that "shoot" was used with a relevant meaning ("conduit for coal, etc.") near the time that Woolf was writing.

The shoot spelling was eventually replaced by the French chute ("to fall") for this and related meanings, as can be seen at Dictionary.com's entry for chute.

  • The Mark on the Wall is a short story told in the first person, from a stream-of-consciousness perspective - Woolf may have meant to use shoot rather than chute to indicate the less formal dialect of the narrator's internal speech. Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 17:09

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