I can't understand the following snippet of conversation:

Yes. You look take care of her. She can’t handle alcohol.

What is the meaning of "you look take care of her"? That seems very odd.

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    No, it makes no sense. Please provide the context where this phrase occurs; it may be possible to work out what the writer intended. – Andrew Leach Jun 4 '15 at 10:00
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    @Sunny Whoever wrote that was initially thinking of saying "You look after her!", but later changed their mind and phrased it "You take care of her!", but left the original look in by mistake. It's an editing artifact. An oversight. A mistake. Forget about it. – Dan Bron Jun 4 '15 at 10:07
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    I'm guessing this could be look in the sense of an injunction to understand or take heed. "You... look, take care of her." – Neil W Jun 4 '15 at 10:17
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    @Mari-LouA sit venia verbo (sorry, I don't know how to conjugate that properly in Latin!). – Dan Bron Jun 4 '15 at 10:46
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    This is not correct modern English. – superluminary Jun 4 '15 at 11:24

I suspect that the conversation had a pause which you have not included, and went something like "Yes. You...look, take care of her. She can't handle alcohol."

If so, the speaker was about to say something else, such as "You ought to know that she can't handle booze", but changed his mind after the first word, paused, then rephrased his request.


I believe it to be covered by sense 5 of the verb look in the OED.

  1. trans. With clause (esp. that-clause, or clause introduced by how) as object: to take care, make sure, be mindful. Chiefly in imper. Now arch. or regional.

eOE King Ælfred tr. Gregory Pastoral Care (Hatton) (1871) lix. 451
Lociað nu [L. videte] ðæt ðios eowru leaf ne weorðe oðrum monnum to biswice.

eOE Laws of Ælfred (Corpus Cambr. 173) Introd. xii. 30 Locige þæt hio hæbbe hrægl.

c1150 (▸OE) tr. Medicina de Quadrupedibus (Harl. 6258B) (1984) 239 Loca [OE Vitell. beheald; L. observabis] þæt þes laecedon ne hrine wæteres ne eorþan.

c1275 (▸?a1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 8549 Loke þat þu na mare swulc þing ne iscire.

a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 1966 (MED), Fixs and flesse, o bath i sai, Lok ai þe blod ȝee cast a wai.

a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 16814 + 15 Pilat..bad þat þai suld loke þat he wore ded for-thy.

?c1425 Recipe in Coll. Ordinances Royal Househ. (1790) 434 Loke hit be stondynge.

?c1430 (▸c1400) Wyclif Eng. Wks. (1880) 38 Seynt petyr comaundiþ ȝif ony speke, loke he speke as goddis wordis.

▸a1470 Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) I. 35 Looke every of you kyngis lat make such ordinaunce.

1561 T. Hoby tr. B. Castiglione Courtyer iii. sig. Ee.iv, And you (my L. Margaret) looke ye beare it well awaye.

a1616 Shakespeare Othello (1622) iv. iii. 8 Dispatch your Attendant there,—looke it be done.

1621–31 W. Laud Serm. (1847) 133 The State must look their proceedings be just, and the Church must look their devotions and actions be pious.

1646 J. Hall Horæ Vacivæ 22 We ought to looke how wee spend our houres here.

1690 E. Gee Jesuit's Mem. 89 Censor to look that no man lived idly.

1742 G. Turnbull Observ. Liberal Educ. ii. 223 Those..that intend ever to govern their children should..look that they perfectly comply with the will of their parents.

a1822 Shelley Cyclops in Posthumous Poems (1824) 349 When I call, Look ye obey the masters of the craft.

1865 Jrnl. Royal Agric. Soc. 2nd Ser. 1 ii. 242 We must look, therefore, that we have the..wide chest, straight back, &c.

1926 F. M. Ford Man could stand Up i. ii. 38 Look how you let in your nearest and dearest—those who have to sympathise with you.

2004 M. Walton-Roberts in P. Jackson et al. Transnational Spaces iv. 89 Son, if you can do something for your own village, if you can afford to do, look that you have everything, all these things, we heard about you.

I have never heard it used exactly in the way the OP quotes, but in Norfolk it was once idiomatic to say: You look and/out..., usually by way of an injunction to do something very important. It has perhaps declined markedly in recent years but my grandmother (1888 - 1964) used it consistently, as did my parents generation.

He should look and take care of his sick wife, not spend all his time in the pub, is just the sort of thing I could still hear my grandmother say about a neighbour of hers, though she has been dead for 50 years.

You look and do as you're told. You look out and finish the job you started.

The expression has the sense of enjoining you to look to a good outcome.

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    So you think that 'You look take care...' is a sequence that people use and understand? – Mitch Jun 4 '15 at 11:54
  • @Mitch They certainly did do. Otherwise why would Shakespeare have said ...look it be done? The form I remember is You look and take care (what you say/how you drive etc). Someone has down-voted my answer. Presumably they take issue with what the OED says. – WS2 Jun 4 '15 at 12:00
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    I don't see how 'look take care' maps to 'look it be done'. How is the first one syntactically like yours? They don't match functionally for me. The OED says a lot of things but it doesn't necessarily say what you want it to say. – Mitch Jun 4 '15 at 12:06
  • @Mitch As I understand it, admittedly in dialect, it would be look and take care of (your children), or look out and take care of... – WS2 Jun 4 '15 at 12:29
  • 'look and ...', 'look how ...', 'look that...' are very different from 'look take...'. 'You look take care of her' doesn't match any of those examples in the OED. – Mitch Jun 4 '15 at 15:18

You may want to include where you got this phrase, otherwise it does not make any sense. However, the sentence may have just been cut off and be "Yes, you look like you can take care of her."

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