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I was reading "The Man who was Thursday" from G. K. Chesterton when I found this sentence which I have not been able to fully understand because of the use of the word 'inroads'. I don't really understand how does the word 'inroads' work, neither in this sentence, nor in general.

"If in a few moments this table begins to turn round a little, don't put it down to your inroads into the champagne. I don't wish you to do yourself an injustice."

Thank you in advance for your help.

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"If in a few moments this table begins to turn round a little, don't put it down to your inroads into the champagne. I don't wish you to do yourself an injustice."

Chesterton is one of those oft-quoted sources for wise, interesting, and often humorous quotes.

The table is about to turn. To turn the tables can be used as a figure of speech meaning a reversal of fortune, but we would need more information to know whether that is the case here. As I see the table begin to turn, I might be inclined to think that the champagne is catching up with me, that the shift is an illusion of the early stages of intoxication.

The inroads provide the way into something, the beginning. The inroads into the champagne would be the tingly effervescence and light-headedness of being tipsy, or slightly drunk.

He means that I should not write this turning of the table off as mere drunkenness, which would be underestimating my abilities ("an injustice"). Apparently the turning of the table will be real and significant.

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When there is a limited supply of something, 'make inroads into' means using using up a serious quantity of it. The shifting table might suggest too much alcohol has been drunk; the speaker says there is another explanation.

make inroads into (Collins)

" to start to use up the supply of something ."
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It is an example of the figure of speech known as hyperbole. And hyperbole is all about exaggeration - the dog's become like an elephant since it went to that family.

Inroads are incursions, or invasions e.g. militarily, into something.

By using inroads for something small and trivial, like inroads into the Champagne it gains attention, dry humour, and irony.

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This is one of those quips that's hard to figure out from the dictionary. Inroad is indeed a kind of incursion, a military term meaning "an advance or penetration, especially at the expense of someone" (Merriam-Webster 3rd international). Here it is made at the expense of the bar's supply of champagne. It implies that the "dreary and greasy beershop" Syme has entered has a large amount of champagne, but also that Symes has now drunk a good portion of it. As a result, Syme is close to drunk.

This is why Gregory warns him, "when the table starts spinning, it doesn't mean you're drunk". Syme is just drunk enough to not be flabbergasted when the table begins spinning, and screws itself down into the secret underground headquarters of the anarchists.

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