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    Nobody the wiser


    Can anybody help me to understand the meaning of nobody the wiser? I have looked it up and found it means something like with no one to know (about it) but this does not fit the text below.

    They left everything--household goods, clothing, provisions, the horses in the stable, the cows in the field, the negroes in the quarters--all as it stood; nothing was missing-- except a man, a woman, three girls, a boy and a babe! It was not altogether surprising that a plantation where seven human beings could be simultaneously effaced and nobody the wiser should be under some suspicion.

    Ambrose Bierce, The Spook House, 189?

    Thank you very much
    Last edited by Johnyxxx; 01-Oct-2015 at 15:30.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    Re: Nobody the wiser

    '...with no one knowing about it...'

    or (clearer?)

    '...without anyone knowing about it...'


    PS The text was written 120-odd years ago. I think when people use 'X the wiser ' today X is usually either none or any. This search shows that, in BNC, out of the 62 cases of 'X the wiser' more than half were one of those two.

    If you don't want to sound rather dated, I'd stick to 'any' and 'none'.
    Last edited by BobK; 05-Oct-2015 at 11:53. Reason: PS
    Twitter: @BobK99

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    Re: Nobody the wiser

    In this context, because the plantation is under suspicion, it suggests that the people were pretending that they had no idea what had happened to the missing people.

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