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  1. guoguohu's Avatar
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    #1

    The drop of a feather

    Dear friends, I have got several vocabulary questions and would appeciate your kind help.

    1. 'He will kill at the drop of a feather'. What does this sentence really mean?

    2. What is 'fight a duel'?

    3. I read this sentence in an ariticle. 'At the end, the letter says Dictated but not Read'. What does 'Dictated but not read' mean?

    I would really appreaciate your help.

    Guoguohu

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    #2

    Re: The drop of a feather

    Quote Originally Posted by guoguohu View Post
    Dear friends, I have got several vocabulary questions and would appreciate your kind help.

    1. 'He will kill at the drop of a feather'. What does this sentence really mean?

    2. What is 'fight a duel'?

    3. I read this sentence in an article. 'At the end, the letter says Dictated but not Read'. What does 'Dictated but not read' mean?

    I would really appreciate your help.

    Guoguohu
    ni hao Guoguoh
    1. May be it is misquotation based on 'at the drop of hat', that means: immediately at the response to a signal. May be the context would be useful.
    2. A combat between two person with weapons, with the presence of witnesses.
    3. 'Dictated but not read' is usually used at the end of the text worn that material has not be personally written or verified by the author.
    I'm not a teacher.
    bai bai

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
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    #3

    Re: The drop of a feather

    Quote Originally Posted by stanislaw.masny View Post
    ni hao Guoguoh
    1. May be it is misquotation based on 'at the drop of hat', that means: immediately at the response to a signal. May be the context would be useful.
    2. A combat between two person with weapons, with the presence of witnesses.
    3. 'Dictated but not read' is usually used at the end of the text worn that material has not be personally written or verified by the author.
    I'm not a teacher.
    bai bai
    - though I wouldn't have said it's a misquotation. In the days when duelling was commonplace, gentlemen's hats were frequently decorated with feathers: Best Costume Place | Moon Costumes CAVALIER HAT,ECONO,W/FEATHER . (We still have the idiom 'a feather in one's hat'). The origin of the idiom ‘at the drop of a hat’ was rooted in fighting: when a dropped hat touched the ground, the fight started.

    A feather is light. If you do something ‘at the drop of a hat’ you’re quick to react – another idiom comes to mind: you have ‘a short fuse’. So ‘at the drop of a feather’ sounds to me like an intentional refinement of ‘at the drop of a hat’ – even quicker to react. (It's not an idiom, though - you're right about that.

    By chance the BBC broadcast this yesterday: BBC iPlayer - Pistols at Dawn - it gives a lot of interesting background on duelling. (Because of the way iPlayer works, it’ll be available at that address for another 5 or 6 days - if the Internet in China will let you!)

    b

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