On the mark.
- For Teachers
Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentences?
The program for rebuilding the city died on the vine.
...the Governor's proposal to reduce the State debt was "dying on the vine". (Manchester Guardian Weekly)
die on the vine = to fail or collapse in the planning stages
Thank you for your efforts.
On the mark.
wide of the mark = inaccurate, wrong
“on the mark” has to be opposite of the “wide of the mark”
on the mark and hit the mark, meaning "exactly right," as in He was right on the mark with that budget amendment, or Bill hit the mark when he accused Tom of lying
I would say it is not necessarily failing at the planning stages. It could also refer to something planned and started, but not completed.
It is the lack of full completion that is for me the relevant factor, the failure to come fully to fruition. When something dies on the vine, it hasn't been picked and eaten (or turned into wine I suppose), which was the intended end outcome.
For something that fails at the planning stages and never gets started, we can also say things like "never left the drawing board" or "got stuck on the drawing board" or "never got off the page".
I might say that, yes. As I said above, I think it can be used for projects halted at the planning stage; I just think it is not limited to only being used for that; it can also refer to projects where the practical stages are begun but not completed.
(The more I think about it, I might perhaps prefer to avoid it for things failing at the planning stages because there are other idioms available that more precisely refer to that, rather than have the possibility of "half completion" open as well. However, that doesn't make the usage of it to refer to things failing in the planning stages wrong!)
I think the idiom, besides the failure of fruition, connotes the potential of it. That's what, I suppose, can make people think of beginnings. It's sometimes hard to tell one from the other. Let's take the most obvious example (I'll let myself return to it): grapes on the vine wither. Withering of plants is not the beginning of their vegetation. But, if we think of it in terms of making wine, we'll see it as the very beginning of the process - which never came to an end. Nevertheless, I still believe the main connotation of "withering on the vine" here is the lack of interest which caused the grapes to wither. It's still the ripe grapes that we harvest, not unripe.
Another example. My country is now preparing to Euro 2012 and we have to create a lot of infrastructure. The works are at an advanced stage - but if the government stops giving money and building companies find other priorities, the project will die on the vine!
Last edited by birdeen's call; 19-Oct-2010 at 16:26. Reason: grammar sucks :-/