In the movie 'Lincoln', Abraham Lincoln portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis says this to Representative Ashley:

"Why for instance is this thus, and what is the reason for this thusness."

What does that even mean?

  • 4
    Why is it like that? And for what reason is it like that? – user66974 Aug 23 '15 at 7:02
  • I think it is a bit of statesman's licence, rather like some things attributed to Churchill such as ...up with which I will not put. – WS2 Aug 23 '15 at 9:24
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    As Josh says, for the meaning. But the tone is contemptuous: Lincoln is using assonance to reduce what he is asking about to complex gibberish. It's an angry and witty retort. He was a great orator, Lincoln... – Margana Aug 23 '15 at 11:13
  • en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Artemus_Ward – TRomano Aug 23 '15 at 12:33
  • 1
    Why "even"? What is the reason for this evening? – David Jun 10 '18 at 17:43

Merriam-Webster simply defines thusness as

the condition of being thus

So in his rhetorical way of speaking, Lincoln meant:

Why is this (situation) thus (in such a state), and what is the reason for this thusness (for this state).


Lincoln was re-quoting Artemus Ward. James Joyce does it too (with paraphrase), in 'Portrait of the Artist': "if it is thus, I ask emphatically whence comes this thusness."

  • 1
    Provides color, but does not answer the question. – Jim Jun 10 '18 at 17:33
  • I think may is a good context to add to an answer, but it is missing the original quote referenced and an explanation, so it does not answer the original question. Quite interesting to note, though! – AlannaRose Jan 13 at 2:07

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