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    #1

    He was level on the level

    Does "He was level on the level" mean "Honestly speaking, he was down to earth?"

    Plus, does "even" mean "almost" in the context below?

    Context:


    Grandpa was a carpenter
    He built houses stores and banks
    Chain smoked Camel cigarettes
    And hammered nails in planks
    He was level on the level
    And shaved even every door
    And voted for Eisenhower
    'Cause Lincoln won the war.

  1. Route21's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: He was level on the level

    Hi NewHopeR

    1. See: on the level - definition of on the level by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia., (just above the Thesaurus section):
    on the level Informal sincere, honest, or genuine

    2. "shaved even every door": "and even made the additional effort to shave every door (without skimping or saving the time/effort of only shaving those doors that would be seen by the public)"

    Hope this helps
    R21

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    #3

    Re: He was level on the level

    Quote Originally Posted by Route21 View Post
    Hi NewHopeR

    1. See: (just above the Thesaurus section):
    on the level Informal sincere, honest, or genuine

    2. "shaved even every door": "and even made the additional effort to shave every door (without skimping or saving the time/effort of only shaving those doors that would be seen by the public)"

    Hope this helps
    R21
    Thank you.

    But sorry it didn't help.

    I knew what "on the level" meant before posting, but didn't know the exact meaning of the first level in "level on the level."

    And the "even" explanation also has not slipped out of my grasp.

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    #4

    Re: He was level on the level

    Hi NewHopeR

    Many apologies - as you hadn't specifically emphasised that it was the first "level on level" that you had a problem with, I didn't address that aspect.

    Having revisited it - and found the context (John Prine's song: YouTube - ‪Grandpa Was A Carpenter - John Prine & The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band‬‏) - I would revisit my comments.

    It appears to mean literally that, as a good carpenter, he ensured that each plank, like each one before it, was "spot-on" level, before he laid the next plank.

    Both lines are used to build up the character of the man, as in my second example.

    Regards
    R21

    PS I would definitely not translate "even" as "almost" in this context.

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    #5

    Re: He was level on the level

    I think "shaved even" is the verb phrase. He made sure that every door was even, by shaving them until they were in that state.

    A "level" is a tool used to ensure that something is level. It sounds a bit redundant, but the level has a bubble and some markings. The bubble should be dead center to be perfectly level. But there is a range around the center. Maybe some inferior workers get it "close enough" to level. But he made sure the level was level.

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    #6

    Re: He was level on the level

    Yes, I would agree with SoothingDave: "shaved even" and [effectively] "dead level" (i.e. absolutely level) according to a "level" are other possibilities.

    In the UK, we would call such a "level" a "spirit level" (but the context of the song concerned is decidedly AME - SoothingDave's territory!).

    R21

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    #7

    Re: He was level on the level

    I, too, think SoothingDave's suggestion is correct.

    However, I do feel that nobody would actually say this. It may work in the lyrics of a song (when the listener is often thinking of the overall impression of meaning rather than on the meaning of individual words/phrases/lines) , but would be difficult to undestand in normal conversation.

    I also feel that, in normal conversation, we would say - if we were going to say such a thing - He shaved every door even.

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