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      • Native Language:
      • Polish
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      • Poland
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    • Join Date: Feb 2013
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    #1

    it took away a mans breath to put his head but within the doors

    Hello all users!

    The earliest known example of the phrase is this:
    One house I know more especially by Cursitors-Alley, where the Man, his Wife and Childe liv’d in a Room that look’d more like, for bigness, a big Chest than any thing else: They had not space enough (according to the vulgar saying) to swing a Cat in; so hot by reason of the closeness, and so nastily kept besides, that it took away a mans breath to put his head but within the doors.

    In my opinion, the fragment "it took away a mans breath to put his head but within the doors" means "the act of putting one's head merely within the doors deprived a person of their breath because of the above-mentioned factors like closeness and so on.

    Do you agree with my reasoning?

    The article is about the proverb or saying "No room to swing a cat".

    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-nor1.htm

    There is also an explanation for lack of apostrophe in the word "mans".

    Thank you.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
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      • Australia
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      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,092
    #2

    Re: it took away a mans breath to put his head but within the doors

    Yes, that's a likely interpretation.

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