The intuitive answer to me would be to "emphasize" something. This explanation seems different from others I've seen, however, that say it means to "finish something". Help on this?

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    I don't find anything difficult to understand in the question, and don't know why it has been marked down. "different from other" is not standard, but seems perfectly clear to me. – Colin Fine Jul 15 '11 at 15:22
  • The two different meanings for this are probably regional. – GEdgar Jul 15 '11 at 17:23

The idiom does have a different meaning from "emphasize".

draw a line under something

if you draw a line under something, it is finished and you do not think about it again: Let's draw a line under the whole episode and try to continue our work in a more positive frame of mind.

  • I guess it's like doing a "check" on your checklist? or maybe cross it out? – stonebird Jul 15 '11 at 15:15
  • Don't, however, confuse it with the similar phrase draw the line (at something). This means "to set a limit at something; to decide when a limit has been reached." You can make as much noise as you want, but I draw the line at fighting. It's hard to keep young people under control, but you have to draw the line somewhere. – Daniel Jul 15 '11 at 15:15
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    Now, I don't think it's either a "check" (I would say a "tick" in the UK) or crossing it out. The image for me is an account book, or perhaps a record of incidents. When one event is finished with you draw a line right across the page to mark the end of that and a fresh start. – Colin Fine Jul 15 '11 at 15:20
  • Well done, Colin! – stonebird Jul 15 '11 at 15:33
  • @ColinFine I believe it's also a security thing, you draw a line through any blank space remaining on the page to prevent anyone adding something further. Similar to writing a cheque, so no one can add extra figures. – Mynamite Aug 17 '13 at 10:37

Think of it like writing down a column of figures to add. When it's time to finish, you "draw a line under it", do the arithmetic and move on to the next one.

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