3

Is it OK to say that something reaches 1/5th of its original size? Like in the following sentence:

"Not only that, but the output images are also highly compressed, sometimes reaching (up?) to 1/5th of their original size..."

  • I wouldn't use "up" or "to" in that sentence. Putting "only" in the same place reads naturally. – Joffan Jun 11 '15 at 0:19
5

According to the Oxford Online English Dictionary, definition 2.1:

Attain or extend to (a specified point, level, or condition):

unemployment reached a peak in 1933

[NO OBJECT]: in its native habitat it will reach to about 6 m in height

Attain certainly can mean both directions, so I think it can technically be used in that fashion.

As far as should? Given that smaller is better in this case, I think it's reasonable. Certainly it is common to say:

I reached my goal weight of 140 lbs

which certainly wasn't reached from a lower weight in the majority of instances. For your particular usage, "shrinking" is probably more common (emphasizing the reduction in size), but I think "reach" is perfectly fine.

I would not use "reached" to mean regressed (ie, got worse).

  • Agreed. Wikipedia has 'The laws of thermodynamics dictate that absolute zero cannot be reached using only thermodynamic means', but there is a real achievement involved here. I think 'gets down to' usually sounds less incongruous. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 10 '15 at 20:47
  • Sure (shrinks is similar certainly). But for image compression software, shrinking is certainly it's goal... – Joe Jun 10 '15 at 20:48
  • 1
    With that example, 'sometimes, a size just 20% of the original is achieved'. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 10 '15 at 20:52
3

Though the underlying word picture of reach is extending or stretching out, it has embraced metaphoric applications for a long time:

Old English ræcan, reccan "reach out, stretch out, extend, hold forth,"
also "succeed in touching, succeed in striking; address, speak to,"
also "offer, present, give, grant,"
from West Germanic *raikjan "stretch out the hand"
(cognates: Old Frisian reka, Middle Dutch reiken, Dutch reiken, Old High German and German reichen),
from Proto-Germanic *raikijanau,
perhaps from PIE root *reig- "to stretch out"
(cognates: Sanskrit rjyati "he stretches himself," riag "torture" (by racking);
Greek oregein "to reach, extend;" Lithuanian raižius "to stretch oneself;" Old Irish rigim "I stretch").

etymonline.com

As other answers have indicated, the current definition seems to be quite consistent with attaining a goal or hitting a target--even if the target implies the restriction to a fractional proportion.

2

I'd go along with Joe's suggestion and use "sometimes shrinking to...". It follows naturally from "highly compressed", I'd say.

1

I definitely wouldn't say "up to".

If you're making something smaller, you don't say "up".

I'd have put something like "down to as little as 1/5", rather than "up to", unless you rephrase to something more like "with compression ratios up to 5:1" (since the compression ratio is higher when the end result is smaller).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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