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I am reading an article on this link, and in one part, it says 'patterns of thought and movement worn smooth with use'. I searched, and couldn't find a definition for 'wearing smooth'. Does it mean 'getting better'?

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  • 'This nailfile has worn smooth' uses a resultative construction, the adjective 'smooth' telling us of the state of the file after much wear. Compare 'The well has run dry.' – Edwin Ashworth Jun 16 '20 at 11:59
  • This is a transitive resultative construction Verb + Obj + Adj, as in rub it raw, hold it together, paint it green. The verb wear can be transitive, but worn is a past participle and shows that Passive has applied, so the object has become the subject. Patterns of thought and movement is the object of active transitive wear, and the subject of passive intransitive (be) worn. Active or passive, the wear is the same, so it's smooth either way. – John Lawler Jun 16 '20 at 16:23
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Your interpretation of it is quite close. In this case the writer is showing that he prefers to do things that he has done before.

"Patterns of thought worn smooth with use" is applying a physical descriptor to a non-physical thing.

"To wear smooth" means that an action has occurred so many times that the rough edges have been destroyed Lexico 2.2, similar to how sea glass forms.

However, he's using this as a positive, in the sense that rather than being destroyed, it has become comfortable, familiar, like a well-used path. So, in the end, he's just referring to methods of game play and game logic that he is already extremely familiar and comfortable with.

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  • And in this case, worn smooth is being used metaphorically. – Jason Bassford Jun 16 '20 at 15:08

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