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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    How long a spell is?

    Hi,

    I'm just reading Lee Child's "The Affair". Consider these two fragments:

    • There was a bell on the desk [...]. I hit it twice, and a polite ding dong echoed for a spell, but it produced no results. (Italics original, boldface mine)
    • The waitress half-turned and I followed her gaze to the old couple settled in at their table for four. They were still reading. The waitress said, "They usually sit a spell in here, and then they go back."


    I looked up "spell" in Merriam-Webster and found, among other definitions, that "a spell" is "an indeterminate period of time". Should I then try to underdstand the meaning from the context, or rather should I understand that a spell is just an indeterminate period of time, which can mean a little bit or much longer?

    Thanks,
    nyggus

  2. #2
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
    Matthew Wai is offline VIP Member
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    Re: How long a spell is?

    I think it means a short period of time according to definition #1 at http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionarie...nglish/spell_2
    Last edited by Matthew Wai; 11-Oct-2017 at 10:42. Reason: Fixed a typo.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Re: How long a spell is?

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Context suggests that the period of time in your first sentence is of very short duration - a few seconds.
    The period of time in the second sentence will be longer. We cannot say for certain. It could be anything from a few minutes to perhaps an hour or so.

    Which basically means that I should get the meaning from the context.

    Thanks.

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