taking a leaf out of [the anti-Wal-Mart movement]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by silencealways, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. silencealways New Member

    Chinese
    Here is the sentence:
    "The ACFTU was taking a leaf out of the blobal anti-Wal-Mart movement, targeting the biggest and most high-profile company."

    Could someone explain the meaning for me? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Kraus Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
    Hello!

    Perhaps the meaning is "The ACFTU was following the example of the blobal..."

    I hope that helps.

    Bye
     
  3. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    It derives from an old fashioned word for "page" and the original would be "to take a leaf out of his book".

    It implies that someone is following an example, as Kraus says, or even stealing someone's ideas or style.

    (p.s. I presume you are talking about Global something, not Blobal? :) )
     
  4. comsci

    comsci Senior Member

    Taiwan, Vancouver(B.C.) and the Rockies
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    "leaf" can be thought as "page". It's still quite commonly used as "loose-leaf", "overleaf"..and so on.

    He tore a leaf out of his notebook.
    He was leafing a magazine.
     
  5. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    The sentence does not use the whole expression, which is:
    To take a leaf out of someone's book.

    I suppose the literal meaning of "leaf" here is "page".

    The expression means to copy the good example set by someone else.

    For example, imagine that you are spending far too much money on fuel for your car, while your friend X is using a good, cheap, bus service. If you complained to Y about the cost of using your car, Y might reply,
    Why don't you take a leaf out of X's book and use the bus?
     
  6. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Not always described in positive ways though:p
     
  7. silencealways New Member

    Chinese
    That's very helpful.
    Thanks a lot.
     
  8. comsci

    comsci Senior Member

    Taiwan, Vancouver(B.C.) and the Rockies
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    Exactly, if you have authority to "take a leaf out of someone's book", you then "copy a good example set"; however, if you don't, I'm afraid you then "steal/crib/plagiarise someone else's idea/thought". :D
     
  9. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    I would say "leafing through a magazine".

    It doesn't work without the preposition
     
  10. comsci

    comsci Senior Member

    Taiwan, Vancouver(B.C.) and the Rockies
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    Like "browsing through" more or less? :) Point taken and thank you Brioche for the note.
     
  11. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    'to take a leaf out of someone's book' is, I believe, merely an expression relating to following a good example and can not be used literally as suggested by comsci or Alex_Murphy. Am I wrong on this?
     
  12. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    The expression is figurative. It looks to me like comsci and Alex_Murphy were showing you how the literal word "leaf", meaning a page or piece of paper, related to the eventual figurative expression "taking a leaf out of x's book".

    Actually, you could use it literally, but I think most people would alter it slightly to make it clear that they did not intend the figurative meaning.

    For example,

    "I was short on paper for class today, so Alex let me borrow a leaf from his notebook" or "I hope you don't mind; I needed some paper so I took a couple of pages from your notebook."
     
  13. Cayuga Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English/USA
    This sounded funny to me, too, because the second half of the expression is missing. Whoever wrote this should have said something like "The ACFTU was taking a page out of the global anti-Wal-Mart movement's playbook, targeting the biggest and most high-profile company.

    Note 1: As an American, I wouldn't say "leaf," although I would, of course, understand it if someone else used it.

    Note 2: A playbook is a book in which a football coach (other sports, too?) describes all of the plays his team might run during a game. It is used to help new players learn what they'll need to know, as well as to remind current players of what they are supposed to know.
     
  14. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I understood that, JamesM, but I did not think it appropriate to introduce things like authority into this context, since I doubt the expression with 'leaf' would ever be used other than figuratively. As you suggested, in literal use one would say 'page'. Otherwise it could be misunderstood that 'leaf' is always synonymous with 'page', which it is not
     

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