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  1. #1
    langelaszlo is offline Newbie
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    "fencing in the moon"

    Dear friends,
    I have run into the phrase "fencing in the moon" in a mid-20th century PR textbook.
    Source: Cutlip/Center: Effective Public Relations (1952), page 4.
    The full context:
    "His work [public relations staff] has been variously described as "human engineering," "social engineering," or "the engineering of consent." Use of such terms is akin to fencing in the moon."
    I have cleared up all the words, but it may be an idiom or saying. I would appreciate if you could help me.
    Thank you.
    Laszlo from Hungary

  2. #2
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Moderator
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    "Fencing in the moon" is not an idiom. It is an original phrase. The author was attempting to discredit or belittle concepts like social engineering, and engineering of consent. But the world has moved on. Nowadays social engineering and the manufacture of consent are considered real, and are studied by sociologists. That is why "fencing in the moon" has never been seen or heard again since 1952.
    Last edited by probus; 18-Aug-2017 at 03:46.

  3. #3
    Lynxear's Avatar
    Lynxear is offline Senior Member
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    This was the author's way of making a comment on those social areas. They were in their infancy back in 1952 so saying that:

    "Use of such terms is akin to fencing in the moon."

    This could be phrased:

    "Use of such terms is ridiculous."

    "Fencing in the moon" is an absurd idea and that was what the author thought of those social titles. He said it that way as a less direct, more colourfully sarcastic way of expressing his opinion.

    "Fencing in the moon" is not an idiom since there is no hidden meaning.

    Experience is recognizing a mistake the second time you make it.
    You don't go to an Englishman when you want good pierogi.

    - Wisdom from my father

  4. #4
    langelaszlo is offline Newbie
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    Thank you very much for your help, it is clear now.

  5. #5
    sammol is offline Newbie
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    Wow, this is why I love the idioms threads...

    I'm a native English speaker, but for some reason, I read this phrase as meaning 'swordfight' fencing rather than ' to fence something in'...

    You learn something new everyday!

  6. #6
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    Quote Originally Posted by sammol View Post
    You learn something new everyday every day!
    `

  7. #7
    davidhibner's Avatar
    davidhibner is offline Newbie
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    I think it means "be ridiculous" or something unnecessary to do because it'll make no sense.

  8. #8
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    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    I take it to be something impossible and, therefore, not even worth attempting, like "herding kittens" (another idiom).
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  9. #9
    Hülya Uslu is offline Newbie
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    Re: "fencing in the moon"

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    "Fencing in the moon" is not an idiom. It is an original phrase. The author was attempting to discredit or belittle concepts like social engineering, and engineering of consent. But the world has moved on. Nowadays social engineering and the manufacture of consent are considered real, and are studied by sociologists. That is why "fencing in the moon" has never been seen or heard again since 1952.

    Your explanation is illuminating. I have learnt something new.

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