off the charts

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Tak

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Apr 4, 2008
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Hello!
I have another question. While reading Stephen Hunter's POINT OF IMPACT, I ran across the phrase "off the charts".

Quote from the book:
"In the end, most men always act out of self-preservation. But these two don't care and won' act that way. It's a function of self-hatred so passionately held that it's off the charts."

I assume this is a "so ... that ..." construction, and "it" means "a function of self-hatred", and "off the charts" means "big". Please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

My question is two-fold:
1) Is the phrase "off the charts" used commonly?
2) Is it somehow related to "on the charts"?

Any inputs would be welcome and appreciated.
Tak
 

riverkid

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Aug 17, 2006
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English Teacher
Hello!
I have another question. While reading Stephen Hunter's POINT OF IMPACT, I ran across the phrase "off the charts".

Quote from the book:
"In the end, most men always act out of self-preservation. But these two don't care and won' act that way. It's a function of self-hatred so passionately held that it's off the charts."

I assume this is a "so ... that ..." construction, and "it" means "a function of self-hatred", and "off the charts" means "big". Please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

"off the charts" means super big, unbelievably big, so big that it can't be recorded on the charts.

My question is two-fold:
1) Is the phrase "off the charts" used commonly?

I'd say that it's fairly common, Tak.

2) Is it somehow related to "on the charts"?

I guess it is in the sense that those things that are on the charts aren't that big.

Any inputs would be welcome and appreciated.
Tak

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Tak

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Apr 4, 2008
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Student or Learner
Many thanks, Riverkid!

Your answer has triggered another question in my mind:
Do you use "off the charts" to refer to things you can see, such as a tomato and an ant, or only to things abstract, such as someone's ego and ambition?

Thanks,
Tak:lol:
 

Tak

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Apr 4, 2008
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Thank you, David, for your explanation, which I think makes sense.

To find the definition online, I tried "Urban Dictionary", and found the entry "off the charts". The phrase is defined as "out of the norm" (this could mean "super big"), "beyond expectation (unpredictable)" and "top of the line". An example sentence I found there is: His new car was off the charts! (Could this mean "top of the line" = high-end?)

Now, when I analyzed the sentence from the novel, I think "out of the norm = super big as explained by riverkid " fits this case, considering "it" to refer to "a function of self-hatred" (Am I wrong here?).

Leaning English requires a lot of thinking and imagination, I think, because even the article "a" can be a tough nut to crack for me at times.

I really appreciate your input!
Tak
 
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