30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary_Dan Strutzel / Funk & Lewis contains

The simple three-letter word “run”, up to this moment of writing has more than ninety dictionary definitions. There are the run in your stocking, the run on the bank, and a run in baseball. The clock may run down, but you run up a bill. Colors run. You may run a race or run a business. You may have the run of the mill, or, quite different, the run of the house when you get the run of things. And this dynamic little word, we can assure you, has just begun its varied career with these examples.

The stuff here is my translation task. My question here is how to understand the sentence of "You may have the run of the mill, or, quite different, the run of the house when you get the run of things." From what I've got, "the run of mill" means "average" and "the run of the house" probably means that "you will get whatever room is available at the time you check-in". The final sentence of "you get the run of things" means "You are allowed to freely use something". And when they are mixed together, I'm confused a lot.

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    Run of house does seem to have a meaning with regard to hotel bookings, but to me as a British English speaker having the run of the house means being allowed to go anywhere you like in it. Apr 12 at 7:37
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    Hello, CH. Essentially, the illustrations in this excerpt are designed to show the reader how many different ways a single word can be used in English. 'Run' is especially versatile. But it can be overwhelming to consider even a smallish subset of these different usages all at once. Each different sense (Bob is running / Bob runs, Bob ran a good race, they ran a competition/business ...), 'phrasal verb' (they ran up a huge bill, they ran down his efforts ...) or other idiom (run of the mill, in the long run, run a fever ...) could constitute a separate question on ELL or ELU. Apr 12 at 10:02
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    The Online Etymology Dictionary posits a reasonable timeline for some of the semantic shifts (see StudySmarter_semantic change) of 'run' and its phrases. / Note that some consider 'run' [verb] and 'run' [noun] etc to be related but distinct words. / Wiktionary lists many usages. Apr 12 at 10:26

1 Answer 1


The phrases seem to have two meanings and it is purposely designed to trip you up. While your definitions can also be correct in the right circumstances, in this case I would assume:

to have the "run of the mill" means to be in control of something such as a boss in a workplace, have "the run of the house" to mean the freedom to go around the house as if it was your own, and "get the run of things" to mean when you become familiar/gain confidence in something.

So I would say it means:

You may be running things, or, quite different, be free to go around the house as you please when you familiarize yourself with things.

It's worth noting that it is meant to be confusing and I doubt this sentence would appear anywhere except for things like a translation task.

  • Hahaha You definitely make sense,but it's turly my homework of translation. How poor am I. Anyway,thank you for your effot. (^_^)
    – Cold Hand
    Apr 12 at 11:57

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