I learned the following sentence from The Economist (December 3rd-9th 2011).

... The implications seemed nothing short of revolutionary.

I've looked it up at this online dictionary. It is said that it means "of a lesser degree than". What's the function of this phrase here? How should I understand this sentence?

3 Answers 3


"Nothing short of" is a common idiom.

"Short of", as you found, means "of a lesser degree than".

"Nothing short of" means "not at all of a lesser degree than".

"Nothing short of revolutionary" means "I am not exaggerating when I say this is revolutionary". It might indicate that the writer feels that if they merely wrote "revolutionary" on its own, the word would not have enough impact.


It means exactly as the dictionary says.

short of = lesser than

... The implications seemed nothing less than revolutionary.

Or in other words,

The implications seemed quite revolutionary

The preceding use of "nothing" makes it a negative of "less than"

  • @shinynewbilke, thanks. I thought it means "the implications seemed not revolutionary at all".:-)
    – user8970
    Dec 20, 2011 at 13:19

You can read it replacing part of the idiom with but to quickly get an idea:

The implications seemed nothing but revolutionary.

President Barack Obama says the savage storms that swept through the South are nothing short of 'catastrophic.' [They are as bad as catastrophic.]

  • I like your example. :)
    – user8970
    Dec 21, 2011 at 0:21