# the clock was on the point of four

Status
Not open for further replies.

#### Coffee Break

##### Member
I read this part, "the clock was on the point of four", but am finding it difficult to understand it. Could you please let me know what it means? Here is the excerpt:

“Wouldn’t it be a good idea,” said Mrs. Stevens, “if somebody was to walk up to the top of the road—and look?”
Mr. Stevens pooh-poohed the suggestion. Chauffeurs, he said, were specially trained to find places. But nevertheless—as the clock was on the point of four, he rose, and sauntered to the gate.

- R. C. Sherriff, The Fortnight in September, Chapter 26

This is a novel published in 1931, which describes a fortnight in September in which an English family consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, Mary, Dick, and Ernie go on a holiday. One evening, they are waiting inside the house for the chaffeur.

Here, I wonder what this underlined part means.
Would that perhaps mean, the hands of the clock were on the little dot (=point) at the location of the number 4...? (Though this is just my guess.)

It was almost four o' clock.

the hands of the clock were on the little dot (=point) at the location of the number 4...? (Though this is just my guess.)
The small hand almost at 4. The large hand almost at 12.

I understand it to mean that it was four o'clock. At four o'clock the minute hand is on the 12 and the hour hand is on the 4.

I think that 'on the point of' suggests 'almost at the time of'.

Have a look at this here. 'Almost at the time of' seems to be the right answer.

I’ve never encountered that usage in BE.

@5jj, @Barque, @Amigos4, @White Hat, and @Rover_KE,

Thank you so much for the explanations and the link.
Wow, so "on the point of" means "on the verge of/close to"! It had nothing to do with the real point and hands of the clock, I guess.

So "the clock was on the point of four" would mean "the hands of the clock were close to indicate four o'clock, with one hand reaching towards 12, and the other hand reaching towards 4."

@Coffee Break We don't say "reaching towards" in that context. However, "on the point" works because the hour hand was pointing to the four. (Maybe it hadn't reached four o'clock yet, but it was on the point of doing so.)

Wow, so "on the point of" means "on the verge of/close to"! It had nothing to do with the real point and hands of the clock, I guess.
I'd take it as a reference to the point on the clockface, and that the fact that "on the point of" means "on the verge of" is just coincidence. Others might feel differently. This exact expression isn't a common one, as Rover_KE also implies in #7.

Status
Not open for further replies.

Replies
7
Views
268
Replies
10
Views
500
Replies
6
Views
917
Replies
4
Views
1K