3

For example, "Of Mice and Men" Why don't they just say "Mice and Men"? Does "Of" here have any meaning? I know they do that is some recent books, too.

  • 1
  • I was going to write an answer, but that link by Lawrence explains a lot. Also, the title of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is a quote from a Robert Burns' poem, so I'm not sure if the title's intention here is "about" or "on the topic of" of mice and men. The quote from the poem is "The best laid schemes of mice and men". Also, at least the American Heritage Dictionary gives "of" as an archaic form of "on". So for example "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres." Interestingly in Latin these titles often begin with "de" which is defined as "of, concerning, about" – Zebrafish Aug 24 '18 at 9:57
  • If you think Steinbeck is 'old', what would you say about Chaucer? – Michael Harvey Aug 24 '18 at 13:56
  • Just because one thing is old doesn't mean another thing isn't older. Anything that isn't recent, regardless of its relative age to other non-recent things, is liable to have language forms that have fallen out of current use. Such things are worth commenting on, regardless of whether another source may have more such archaic phrasing. – Drazex Aug 24 '18 at 16:47
  • John Steinbeck is 20th century. He died in 1968. That's recent. – Michael Harvey Aug 25 '18 at 14:06
3

Here, "of" is similar to "about". They both introduce the topic of the book, conversation, etc.

"This is a story of mice and men."

"This is a story about mice and men."

"Of" isn't used this way very often now, but you still might hear a "discussion of something" (the topic of the discussion), or as a commenter mentioned, some things might be "of interest" (they are part of the current interest/topic). Earlier in history, though, it was a bit more common, and often used in book titles to tell the reader what the topic of the book was.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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