To live in each other's pockets

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Mr Bones, May 11, 2006.

  1. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Hello, everybody. I've just learned this lovable expression and I'd like to know how widespread it is nowadays in order to decide wether I can use it or not. I've read it in a Doris Lessing's story, so I can't guess if it's highly fashionable or completely aged.

    Here you are the whole sentence where I found it:

    Her husband would not have to make a friend of the man. They would work together, that was all; but because they, the wives, were two women on an isolated farm, they would be expected to live in each other's pockets.

    Thank you in advance,
    Mr Bones
    Please, correct my mistakes

  2. Hello Mr Bones,

    I think you could safely use this idiom in certain situations. It is not in everyday use in the UK but crops up from time to time.

    "It's a good thing they get on so well together. The apartment they are sharing is so small that they live in each other's pockets."

    "It can be very difficult for a married couple to work together. They see each other throughout the day then spend the evening at home. You could say that they live in each other's pockets."

  3. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Thank you, her Majesty. Bones.
  4. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    I use it from time to time. I think it is quite negative, suggestive of being forced to be too close together, or choosing to be very close together
  5. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    This is an interesting nunace. Thank you, suzi. Bones.
  6. quilks Junior Member

    Durham, UK
    English, UK
    The phrase is heard reasonably frequently, at least in the UK. It definitely does have a slightly negative connotation in that it suggests that the close proximity of the people involved is either involuntary or that their voluntary closeness is unhealthy!
  7. susanna76 Senior Member

    I found this phrase in Maugham's own preface to A Writer's Notebook (published in 1949). He talks about Jules Renard's Journal and the way this French writer presented the French literary scene of his time. Maugham says,

    "His fellow writers were indignant when the work was issued and they discovered with what acrimony he had written of them. The picture he paints of the literary life of his day is savage. They say dog does not bite dog. That is not true of men of letters in France. In England, I think, men of letters bother but little with one another. They do not live in one another's pockets as French authors do; they meet, indeed, infrequently, and then as likely as not by chance. . . . They do not even read one another very much."
  8. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Hello, susanna. It's really nice to get answers so long after having started the thread. The example you've provided is very good. Thank you, Mr Bones.
  9. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I'm actually quite surprised at Maugham's use of the expression, to mean looking constantly over each other's shoulder, at what they were doing. I've heard the expression used to mean that people lived so much in and out of each other's houses that they didn't care very much who paid for what.
  10. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    As far as I know, the expression is strictly BrE. At least I've never heard it, or heard of it, before, and I notice that all of those commenting on its use have been BrE speakers.

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