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the thin end of the wedge Options
vil
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 4:18:02 AM
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Would you tell me whether I am right about my interpretation of the expressions in bold in the following sentences?

Meat for tea! What an insane notion! The woman was getting ideas into her head! He saw in the steak the thin end of the wedge. (A. Bennett, “Riceyman Steps”)

the thin end of the wedge = presage of future trouble

Already the murmur of uneasiness made itself heard. Was this not a thin end of the wedge?

a thin end of the wedge = precarious fore-token

V.
thar
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:02:24 AM

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the wedge is the bit of wood or metal that gets bigger towards the end. The thin end sneaks in unnoticed, but it is a sign of bigger things coming, that might have a big, bad effect!

thar
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:04:41 AM

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and, just a suggestion, precarious does not mean presaging future trouble, it means already in a risky, unsafe position. The point about the thin end of the wedge is that you do not notice the danger, it starts off with something small and innocuous...
sahra
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:07:33 AM
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thank you Thar for the illustrated explanation. It reminds me of a french idiom : The forest hidden behind the tree!
thar
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:28:05 AM

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sahra wrote:
thank you Thar for the illustrated explanation. It reminds me of a french idiom : The forest hidden behind the tree!


Hi Sahra

Does that mean not seeing the whole forest because you are concentrating too much on the tree in front of you?

in English that is 'you can't see the wood for the trees!'

In iceland the idiom is more 'where are the trees?'
- there weren't a lot in the first place and they were cut down to make a boat to get to Greenland Boo hoo! . But the couple of forests we have are beautiful - I am there right now in spirit...
Djalma
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 7:03:39 AM
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Hi guys,

Would you agree that "tip of the iceberg" would have exactly the same meaning? The reason I'm asking is that I often see this expression applied to cost/finance or money ccontext. What say you?

Looking fwd to reading your inputs.

Dj
thar
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 7:19:16 AM

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Tip of the iceberg is similar, but not exactly the same. The thin end of the wedge is something that is going to get bigger.

eg one law against freedom would be the thin end of the wedge - you fear it is the start of worse things in the future.

with the tip of the iceberg, the point is that you are only seeing a small part of the problem - all the rest is already there, it is just not seen.

eg a few instances of police violence may be reported, but it is just the tip of the iceberg - there is a lot more going on, but people are too scared or unable to report it. But it is still happening, it is just hidden from you.

so, both metaphors about a problem, but one is in the future, and one is currently hidden.



[image not available]
BigBird66
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 7:22:24 AM
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"Tip of the iceberg" and "thin edge of the wedge" are similar in that they both imply that there is much more to come, but the wedge gives a more negative connotation. A wedge splits something, irreparably changing it; the hidden part of an iceberg is simply something to be aware of. It can certainly be a danger, but it’s known and can be worked around.
Djalma
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 1:18:44 PM
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Thanks, guys! Both explanations were very clear. The alert on the differences wwill help a more adequate use of each expression.

Dj
jcbarros
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 1:26:43 PM

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Is it the thin edge of the wedge that I see into our hull? Thanks goodness the Titanic is unsinkable!
excaelis
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 2:02:09 PM

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The last survivor of the Titanic died recently. And she was s-o-o close to shore...
vil
Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 3:08:26 AM
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I accept with thanks the helpful suggestions and notes.

Here is another free interpretation of the expression in question.

“What age are you?” he asked.
“Seventeen,” said the boy. As the old man said nothing further, the boy took the bottle and said.
“Here’s my best respects, sir,” to Mr. Henchy, drank the contents, put the bottle back on the table and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
“That’s the way it begins,” said the old man.
The thin end of the wedge,” said Mr. Henchy. (J. Joice, “Dubliners”)

the thin end of the wedge = take the evil ways

V.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 4:08:13 AM

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Quote:
the thin end of the wedge = take the evil ways


= That's how it begins
(now a bottle, tomorrow two, next week ten...)
srirr
Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 4:25:01 AM

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A drunkard was very upset on his addiction of drinking. His room was full of empty bottles.
He threw the first bottle and said, You are responsible for my loss of bank balance.
He took the second one and broke it by saying, You are responsible for loss of my car.
He then took the third one and broke it by saying, You are responsible for my wife leaving me.
.
He then lifted the fourth bottle and found it to be full. He kept the bottle aside, You are innocent my love. You stay aside.
HWNN1961
Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 8:42:45 PM
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Unless of course we speak of a wedge of cake, or cheese, or pizza:

Then "to get the thin edge" means to be short-changed.
Romany
Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 12:53:27 AM
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Vil, yes JJs interpretation is the correct one. In this context therefore:-

the kid has just downed a big gulp of whiskey:- primarily to be seen as manly. Henchy agrees with the old man that the road to addiction always starts with one first gulp: "That's the way it begins." He uses the idiom to illustrate the fact that the first gulp is the metaphorical first plane of a wedge that has the power to completely ruin a piece of wood if hammered in well enough (i.e. with more alcohol).
juliotulipan
Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 10:44:23 PM
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It is very interesting topic about "the thin end of the wedge" and "tip of the iceburg" !! I learn much more than what I can get from dictionaries. Very clear explanations and excellent examples and illustrations! I am so benifited from your discussion.
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