I get a bit confused about the meaning of the preposition by in 'by the other side' in the context below. Could you help to explain it for me in detail?

The Rat got hold of an oar and shoved it under the Mole's arm;then he did the same by the other side of him and, hauled him out...

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame (1859–1932), pub 1908

In addition, I have searched the meaning of by in Longman's dictionary and it comes out with many different meaning. My problem is I am not sure which meaning it should be in the situation of my case.

  • It's a rather old-fashioned equivalent of 'did the same to the other side'. I can't find the usage in your Longmans link, probably because it's so old. Incidentally, the book is 'The Wind in the Willows'. Jun 9, 2018 at 8:04
  • I've added dates into the question when tidying it a little, because usage of English can change rapidly in a short time, and — particularly in novels, perhaps — it is very much a product of its time.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 9, 2018 at 8:57
  • @KateBunting I basically agree but don't you think that it often carries the implication of for or on behalf of? As a made up example "Mr Fortescue did well by his niece, his provision of a dowry enabled her to marry Sir Jasper". I have deliberately tried to invoke period writing, of course.
    – BoldBen
    Jun 9, 2018 at 9:08
  • 1
    'By the other side of him' is quite clever, I think. It seems to me to mean 'beside, but on the other side'.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 9, 2018 at 10:15
  • @BoldBen A 1930s Concise Oxford Dictionary (which I keep for its definitions of older words) defines this sense of 'by' as 'concerning, in respect of'. Jun 10, 2018 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


I have searched the meaning of by

You should have searched for the meaning of do, where do by is listed as a phrasal verb:

to treat in the manner specified: employers do well by hard working employees.


... then he did the same by the other side of him and, hauled him out.

  1. beside; next to;

My sense is meaning he used the 2nd oar on the 'the other side' for a 2 oar carry, litter or sked.

  • Undoubtedly that's what it means. Jun 10, 2018 at 8:02
  • @KateBunting the OP asked ... the OP got!
    – lbf
    Jun 10, 2018 at 10:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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