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things have come to a pretty pass

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ladybugEnglishFan, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. ladybugEnglishFan Senior Member

    Hi. I am trying to translate a song "let's call the whole thing off". There is a sentence - "Things have come to a pretty pass, our romance is growing flat"
    So what does it mean? Especially the word "pass" in this context? That they wre going to other sides? That nothing happens in their relationship?
  2. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    "Things have come to a pretty pass, our romance is growing flat"
    So what does it mean? Especially the word "pass" in this context?

    Pass means state in this context and pretty pass:- nowhere
    Flat:- boring, not interesting, dull.

  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Full lyric. [Please give us a link to the whole lyric in future, LBEF.]
  4. airportzombie

    airportzombie Senior Member

    English - CaE/AmE
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines a pretty pass as an old-fashioned phrase for "a bad situation". Thefreedictionary.com indicates the ironic use of pretty in this way.

    There's another song that comes to mind with this idiom, from the musical Evita (I can't remember the name of the song itself):
  5. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    A "pass" in geography is the space between two mountains. This space is often used as a major transportation route.

    I think the "pass" is a metaphor in this case. They are travelling in a "pretty area", but not necessarily travelling in the same direction.
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Here, pass means:
    3. A situation or point in the course of a sequence of events; esp. a critical, difficult, or unfortunate situation; a predicament, a juncture. Freq. with modifying word; (to come to, reach, etc.) a pretty pass: (to arrive at) a bad or regrettable state of affairs.

    ... and pretty:
    c. ironic. Awkward, difficult, deplorable, unwelcome, etc

    Both from the OED.
  7. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    If it helps, think of 'It came to pass that ...' (which means 'It happened that ...') in the King James Bible. Therefore, 'a state of affairs', as given by panj. I don't think we are talking about mountain passes.
  8. MilkyBarKid Senior Member

    British English
    to come to a pretty pass : reach a bad or regrettable state of affairs.

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