Just about

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Just about

Postby g-one » Sun May 23, 2021 6:11 pm

Today I found out that the phrase 'just about' means the opposite in the UK as in North America. :shock:
UK: did, but just barely
NA: didn't, but almost did

Was cueing up an email to a UK editor to suggest they send their commentator back to school when I decided to google first. Saved by the goog again. :mrgreen:
Having to think about it rationally, I can't think of a good argument for either.
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Re: Just about

Postby Lianachan » Sun May 23, 2021 6:41 pm

Maybe an English thing. I’ve never heard of “just about” meaning anything other than “almost” up here.
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Re: Just about

Postby Richard A » Sun May 23, 2021 8:16 pm

Maybe, although in some contexts, the distinction can be blurred. "He just about made it" - well, yeah, he made it, but ... "She just about passed" - OK, she didn't fail but it's not a course to brag about on her resume. In other cases, though, the distinction is clearer: "I just about made the train" - I jumped on, out of breath and they were blowing the whistle on the platform, but yes, the train left with me on it.

Lianachan, what would those sentences mean in Scotland?
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Re: Just about

Postby Lianachan » Sun May 23, 2021 8:31 pm

Didn’t make it, nearly passed (but failed), and narrowly avoided catching the train.
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Re: Just about

Postby Lance » Sun May 23, 2021 11:32 pm

For me it's "did, but just barely" too.
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Re: Just about

Postby Enzo » Mon May 24, 2021 2:45 am

Almost for me.

I just about died. I just about killed myself.

Also can mean more-or-less

It is just about a mile to the store.


I would contrast it with "didn't quite".

She didn't quite pass, meaning she came close but still failed.
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Re: Just about

Postby Arneb » Mon May 24, 2021 2:16 pm

Fascinating. I always just about ignored the "about" and just read it as "just".

So I just about passed is, I passed. Just.
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Re: Just about

Postby Lianachan » Mon May 24, 2021 3:55 pm

Must admit, I hadn’t been aware that this expression meant different things in different places.
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Re: Just about

Postby tubeswell » Mon May 24, 2021 7:28 pm

Approximately for me

or nearly
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Re: Just about

Postby Lianachan » Mon May 24, 2021 8:13 pm

Lianachan wrote:Must admit, I hadn’t been aware that this expression meant different things in different places.

Apparently it means different things to my wife and I, too. She’s a Western Isles Gael and I’m a Highlands Gael, if that counts.
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Re: Just about

Postby g-one » Mon May 24, 2021 9:18 pm

Lianachan wrote:Must admit, I hadn’t been aware that this expression meant different things in different places.

Same here. I was very surprised to find out. And also to find out there is really no definitive meaning either way in the did or didn't sense. Only the 'approximately' meaning seems correct.
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Re: Just about

Postby Richard A » Tue May 25, 2021 1:37 pm

Yes, I'd forgotten about the "more or less" or "approximately" meaning, which kind of blurs the two. "It's just about 2 miles" - i.e. not much more than that. Possibly 1.9, possibly 2.1, but certainly not 2.5.
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Re: Just about

Postby Lianachan » Tue May 25, 2021 3:12 pm

Richard A wrote:Yes, I'd forgotten about the "more or less" or "approximately" meaning, which kind of blurs the two. "It's just about 2 miles" - i.e. not much more than that. Possibly 1.9, possibly 2.1, but certainly not 2.5.

I would never use "just about" in that way, I'd just say "about" or "around".
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Re: Just about

Postby MM_Dandy » Wed May 26, 2021 5:21 am

I've heard and used it more to mean "not quite" and less as "approximately." Never as "barely" or "only just."
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Re: Just about

Postby Мастер » Mon May 31, 2021 10:49 am

MM_Dandy wrote:I've heard and used it more to mean "not quite" and less as "approximately." Never as "barely" or "only just."


This is more or less what it means to me. "I just about lost it!" means I was about to explode in anger, but I managed to keep control and not do it.

One of the answers contrasts things that mean the same thing to me.

Enzo wrote:Almost for me.

I just about died. I just about killed myself.

Also can mean more-or-less

It is just about a mile to the store.


I would contrast it with "didn't quite".

She didn't quite pass, meaning she came close but still failed.


To me, "I just about died" means I almost died, but I didn't. (Obviously, someone who did die wouldn't be talking about it, unless it is perhaps a work of fiction with a dead narrator.) The meaning of "didn't quite" is similar to me - "I just about passed" means I came close, but I didn't pass (an exam, another car on the motorway, whatever), and so does "I didn't quite pass". Maybe a small difference in emphasis.
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