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      • Native Language:
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    • Join Date: Oct 2014
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    #1

    Byword

    Hello,

    Can anybody explain to me in what context the word byword is used here?

    'Don't, I entreat
    you, dismiss what I am saying as the wanderings of a foolish old man.' He drew a little nearer. 'I have heard them with these ears; I have seen them with these eyes; though whether they have any positive substance, sir, is beyond my small knowledge to declare. But what indeed might we expect their substance to be? First: "I take it," says the Book, "to be such as no man can by learning define, nor by wisdom search out." Is that so? Then I go by the Book. And next: what does the same Word or very near it (I speak of the Apocrypha) say of their purpose? It
    says--and correct me if I go astray--"Devils are creatures made by God, and that for vengeance." 'So far, so good, sir. We stop when we can go no further. Vengeance. But of their power, of what they can do, I can give you definite evidences. It would be a byword if once the rumour was spread abroad. And if it is not so, why, I ask, does every expert that comes here leave us in haste and in dismay? They go off with their tails between their legs.

    All Hallows, Walter De La Mare, 1927

    Thank you very much
    Not a Teacher

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    #2

    Re: Byword

    So I´ve been brooding over the problem once again and it seems to me the guy may be saying something like, "if once the rumour spread abroad that some devilish forces attack the cathedral (which seems to be the case because all the experts left terrified at what they found there), the cathedral would become a byword, a sensation, an object of interest to visit and look at."

    Am I right?

    Thanks a lot.
    Not a Teacher

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
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    #3

    Re: Byword

    It would become proverbial in the sense of "well known".
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

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