In Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of Baskervilles" I've run into an idiom I still cannot quite wrap my head around. In the course of a discussion with Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes says:

There is a delightful freshness about you, Watson, which makes it a pleasure to exercise any small powers which I possess at your expense. A gentleman goes forth on a showery and miry day. He returns immaculate in the evening with the gloss still on his hat and his boots. He has been a fixture therefore all day.

According to the dictionary, a fixture is

  • something (such as a light, toilet, sink, etc.) that is attached to a house or building and that is not removed when the house or building is sold
  • a person or thing that has been part of something or involved in something for a long time

None of the above makes any sense in the context to me, so what is the meaning of that last phrase?

Update: stirred in the right direction by Ricky, I understood that the author employed the word fixture metaphorically, associating Watson with a house fixture, thus exaggerating the fact that Watson hasn't moved from the only place he'd been on that day.

  • What did the dictionary tell you that the word fixture means? And don't look in the Old English dictionary, either: this isn’t Beowulf for God’s sake. It’s from only a few years ago. – tchrist Sep 2 '18 at 20:08
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    Tchrist, stop making stack exchange a worse place. – Slavic Sep 2 '18 at 20:12
  • Throughout the entire Stack Exchange, we expect you to do your own research before asking. Notice that the tool tip on the downvote button says "This question does not show any research effort." That should tell you something. If you can't bother to look things up in a dictionary, then this is not the site for you because that part is your job, not ours. – tchrist Sep 2 '18 at 20:20
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    What makes your think I have not done my own research? Let me help your myopia out and bring it to your attention that the word, as it is defined in the dictionary, namely as an attachment to a house, is not suitable for direct interpretation. The phrase employs a figure of speech. A metaphor, which I was not able to grasp at first. Do some useful moderation. You're overqualified(?) For this. – Slavic Sep 2 '18 at 20:25
  • You have to show us your research. You didn't. That's what the close reason says. And clearly you looked in a cheap and underpowered dictionary, given that mine says: 4. A person or thing permanently confined to or established in a particular place or position. We can't be forever looking up words people don't understand for them. They have to show us why they couldn't make sense of basic reference material, which means you have to show it to us. You didn't. Close reason stands. – tchrist Sep 2 '18 at 20:26

It means that he (Dr. Watson in this case) had not stirred from whatever spot he was standing/sitting on all day. Always in the same place. Never venturing outside. Fixed, as it were.

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    It makes sense now. I was more inclined to believe it was an idiom but it is instead a metaphor. – Slavic Sep 2 '18 at 20:13
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    Please don't answer General Reference questions that should be placed On Hold until and unless fixed. – tchrist Sep 2 '18 at 20:28
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    @tchrist: I agree. Which is why I think (erroneously, perhaps) that we must try not to alienate folks who read (and quote) good books and sincerely wish to learn. – Ricky Sep 2 '18 at 20:39
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    Yep, it's a fixture like a light fixture or plumbing fixture. Something that doesn't move, and, in a bar or such, implies that the person could well be a statue or such, since they are always there. – Hot Licks Sep 2 '18 at 20:59
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    Except neither lighting nor plumbing fixtures were common enough at the time of this writing for that to be the analogy. Instead, the fixtures most in the minds of residential tenants would have been door garden items such as roses, holly hedges, or orchard trees; or perhaps window glass and chimney improvements. This is the legal definition of fixture vis a vis the tenant - freeholder contract. Commercial fixtures were production equipment such as stills and mills and other equipment structurally tied to the earth or other buildings. – Phil Sweet Sep 3 '18 at 3:09

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