I just read this lady's profile.

The following sentence has drawn my attention:

I'm not above occasionally bending or breaking a grammar rule for good cause. But I do believe clear, persuasive communication requires sensible, well-respected language conventions.

What does "above" mean in this context? I've rarely seen such usage before, nor have I been able to find anything online. My best guess is it might mean "against". Or could it mean "free from"?

EDIT: so "not above" means "no better than"?

  • 2
    +1 Best answer guaranteed. If no one comes up with a sensible answer, you can always count on that lady. Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 2:04

3 Answers 3


In this context, the word above means better than. If someone is above doing something, they feel as though the activity in question is not up to their standards. It is also said that the activity a person is above is beneath them.

This is supported by the fourteenth definition of above, which states:

14) of too fine a character for: He is above such trickery.

In your question, the person negated the phrase. By saying she is not above breaking a rule occasionally, she means that she does not consider herself too good or proper to break a grammatical rule when it enhances her clarity.

  • 3
    You might also think of it as too good for rather than better than.
    – user13141
    Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 8:51

Above literally means "at a higher level". In this context, it means she is not too proud (showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority) to consider bending or breaking a grammar rule.


I like both answers. I'd just like to add morality to the great list "dignity, importance or superiority' offered up by Dian above (pardon the pun) especially in the context of breaking a rule or law.

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