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  1. #1
    flipper is offline Newbie
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    Default Have nothing/little/much to show for it

    Hello,
    The more I stumble across instances of this idiom, the less confident I am that I've got its meaning right.
    The variations I've come by are:
    • to have nothing to show for it.
    • to have little to show for it.
    • to have much to show for it.

    In particular, two meanings implying themselves for, say, "to have nothing to show for it" have been "to have no way of proving it", or "to have nothing to gain from it".

    Thanks in advance for your authoritative disambiguation.

  2. #2
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    Smile Re: Have nothing/little/much to show for it

    Hi Flipper, what exactly is your question? The meaning of the examples?

    If you are looking for the meaning of 'nothing to show for it', you could be on the right lines with 'no way of proving it'. More accurately, it's a way of describing a complete lack of proof of having done something, or a comment made about something you have done which in your opinion yielded no result whatsoever.

    SB

  3. #3
    flipper is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Have nothing/little/much to show for it

    hmmm....thanks for your reply.

    Here are a couple of quotes, searched up on the net:
    "The group had collectively poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort to defeat Bush--and had nothing to show for it. "
    (Big $$ for Progressive Politics).

    "Dobson: Republican majority has "very little" to show for "pro-family, pro-moral" agenda;"
    (Media Matters - Dobson: Republican majority has "very little" to show for "pro-family, pro-moral" agenda; Santorum pushed marriage amendment in response).

    "Worrywarts have been saying such things since the mid-1980s without much to show for it."
    (Bracing for a Recession - TIME).

    In the second part of your explanation ("...about something you have done which in your opinion ..."), I assume the use of the idiom is not limited to one's own deeds?
    In fact, would you consider "without any visible outcome/results" an acceptable approximation?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Smile Re: Have nothing/little/much to show for it

    Flipper, morning. I would say you were spot on with the approximation. Particularly because 'visible outcome' ties in nicely with 'nothing to show'. And it can be applied to one's own deeds and those of others. As your examples have shown.

    SB

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