Student or Learner
In Haiti, the approximately 400,000 people still living in makeshift camps without proper shelter following 2010's devastating earthquake are at the mercy of the elements.
"Without a stable sanitation system or permanent housing, heavy rain and wind can create much larger problems like disease from water contamination," the Haiti director of World Vision Jean-Claude Mukadi told the AFP news agency.
The country's president, Michael Martelly, has toured some of the camp sites.
"It looks like the south coast is going to get hit, but again we're so fragile here in Port-au-Prince that just some rain can cause a lot of damage," Associated Press quoted him as saying afterwards.
Isaac is also expected to bring rain and wind to nearby Puerto Rico.
My husband and I want to know the meaning of mercy of the elements.
What is it?
It gives the meaning of the word mercy. However, we couldn't find the meaning of mercy of the elements.
RoverConcise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 Oxford University Press:
- 1 a basic constituent part.■ an aspect: an element of danger.
■ a group of a particular kind within a larger group: right-wing elements.
- 2 (also chemical element) each of more than one hundred substances that cannot be chemically interconverted or broken down, each consisting of atoms with a particular atomic number.
- 3 any of the four substances (earth, water, air, and fire) regarded as the fundamental constituents of the world in ancient and medieval philosophy.
- 4 (the elements) bad weather.
I find this sort of exchange really tiresome The first reply gave a pointer to a page that explained the key phrase. Armed with this, and knowledge of the context - 'In Haiti, the approximately 400,000 people still living in makeshift camps without proper shelter following 2010's devastating earthquake...', it's not beyond the wit of man (or woman) to work out which of those 4 meanings is the only one that could possibly fit, without any further mollycoddling.
I know the temptation is to put down the article and think 'I must find out what that phrase means before I return to my reading/translation/exercise/<whatever>', but the context is the biggest clue there is to a possible meaning. Trying to learn vocabulary without context is a sterile waste of time.
Last edited by BobK; 25-Aug-2012 at 20:32. Reason: Added second para
PS I looked in BNC, as I am wont to do (!) and found that 'the elements' is much the most common of things to be 'at the mercy of':
followed by over 40 words with a single hit.1 AT THE MERCY OF THE ELEMENTS 4
2 AT THE MERCY OF THE SHIFTING 2 [BobK '...tides', in both cases]
COCA tells a similar story:
etc etc (147 in all).1 AT THE MERCY OF THE ELEMENTS 14
2 AT THE MERCY OF THE WEATHER 10
3 AT THE MERCY OF THE MARKET 7
4 AT THE MERCY OF THE WIND 5
5 AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS 4
6 AT THE MERCY OF THE CURRENT 3
7 AT THE MERCY OF THE WAVES 3
8 AT THE MERCY OF THE COURT 2
9 AT THE MERCY OF THE EBBING 2 [BobK: '...tide', in both cases]
10 AT THE MERCY OF THE GOVERNMENT 2
11 AT THE MERCY OF THE MARKETPLACE 2
12 AT THE MERCY OF THE SONG 2
13 AT THE MERCY OF THE STORM 2
14 AT THE MERCY OF THE SYSTEM 2
15 AT THE MERCY OF THE WHIMS 2
16 AT THE MERCY OF THE ECONOMY 1