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    gentlemen out-at-elbows/ on false pretence

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expressions in bold in the following sentence?

    Mr. Tapley… entertained a constitutional dislike to gentlemen out-at-elbows who flourished on false pretence.

    out-at-elbows = wearing clothes that are worn out or torn; poor

    gentlemen out-at-elbows = lofty beggars

    on false pretence = by fraud; by deception

    Thanks for your efforts.



  1. Tullia's Avatar
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    Re: gentlemen out-at-elbows/ on false pretence

    Your interpretation makes sense.

    As a note, in modern Br Eng we would make "pretence" plural - the set phrase is "on false pretences". I don't know if you've just made a typo in your quote, and it was pluralized in your original that you are reading, or if that's a change that has happened over time.

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