So this is the context taken from this post by Jeff who is a co-founder of Stack Exchange:

With 46,656 paths to only 720 real world outputs, it's inevitable that some of those paths will be severely over-represented or under-represented in the output. And are they ever. If you shipped a real card game with a naïve shuffle, you'd have some serious exploits to deal with.

What does And are they ever mean ?

  • 2
    No offense to Jeff, but I have to say I think it's poor style in this example to have both "severely" and the (highly informal) expression being queried. The whole point of Is it ever! and variants is to convey the (by implication, surprising) information that something previously mentioned applies much more strongly than might be thought. It looks odd to me here, since the over/under-representation has already been characterised as extreme anyway. – FumbleFingers Aug 21 '12 at 19:35
  • You're right, but it doesn't really matter. It would make more sense and seem more tongue-in-cheek if he said "somewhat" rather than "severely" – Tom Chantler Mar 6 '14 at 13:47

"And are they ever" means that they are to a very high degree. It is emphasising or intensifying the previous statement.

It is similar to saying that the over-represented paths are really really over represented and the under-represented paths are really really under-represented.

A simpler example would be:

Given the pitch conditions, the players should be covered in mud. And are they ever!

So the players are caked in mud up to their eyeballs.

| improve this answer | |

And are they ever in this context is an intensifier. It reiterates the previous statement (severely over-represented or under-represented in the output).

A similar construction is sometimes used as an answer to a question:-

 "Did Fred get drunk last night?"
 "Did he ever!"

would mean that Fred was certainly very drunk last night. In the spoken language, the tone of voice would be highly approving and entusiastic.

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  • 2
    Tangent: Not necessarily approving. In your example, it would depend whether you thought that Fred's drunkenness was great fun, or an indication of gross irresponsibility. His wife, for example, might say exactly the same words with a very disapproving tone. – Jay Aug 21 '12 at 16:21
  • @Jay: And how!! – J.R. Aug 21 '12 at 16:56
  • 1
    @Jay, good point. As a bachelor, I'd overlooked that. – Brian Hooper Aug 21 '12 at 17:09

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