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I watched a great movie, The Help, released in 2011 and starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Octavia Spencer.

In the movie, there is a scene in which there is a conversation about how people are mean to maids:

I worked for Miss Jolene's mother till the day she died. Then her daughter, Miss Nancy, asked me to come and work for her. Miss Nancy is a real sweet lady. But Miss Jolene's ma done put it in her will I got to work for Miss Jolene. Miss Jolene's a mean woman. Mean for sport. Lord, I tried to find another job. But in everybody's mind the French family and Miss Jolene owned me.

In this paragraph, I don't get it why 'mean for sport' is another word for "she is really really mean". (I found out the alternative meaning from the Korean official subtitle)

Are there any special idioms for mean for sport? I'd be grateful if someone could provide me the reason. (FYI, I am not a native speaker, and I study English these days)

Thank you,

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    It means “being cruel simply for the fun of it, and no other reason at all”. Like “hunting for food” vs “hunting for sport (fun)”. – Dan Bron Apr 4 '18 at 10:51
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Merriam Webster defines "for sport" as

for enjoyment and not as a job or for food needed for survival. e.g. hunting and fishing for sport

Hence, the sentence in question suggests that Miss Jolene is mean for no reason other than for her own enjoyment.

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mean for sport ...being cruel simply for the fun of it, and no other reason at all ... close to the idiom make sport of TFD - idiom of sport

sport with someone or something to tease or play with someone or something.

As found in a google book, and blog/article:

"More likely [she was] just mean for the sport of it, but with Vera, who knew"? The Sayers Swindle

"People aren’t mean for the sport of it, or because they are against you; people are mean to cope". a blog

People aren’t mean for the sport of it, or because they are against you; people are mean to cope. an article

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  • The quote says 'make sport of'. 'mean for sport doesn't work there. Can you come up with a better quote or definition? – Mitch Apr 4 '18 at 12:37
  • @Mitch i think so.working. – lbf Apr 4 '18 at 12:49
  • Also, I don't see 'mean for sport' in the text of that link. – Mitch Apr 4 '18 at 12:49
  • @Mitch did my best. Will delete if advised. tks – lbf Apr 4 '18 at 13:11
  • Makes sense now – Mitch Apr 4 '18 at 15:03

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