a cottage industry of folks

Jenny2

New Member
Chinese-China
Hi, could anyone tell me the meaning of "a cottage industry of folks"? As in

I remember in the spring of 1970 when somebody set the International Law Library on fire. I'm sure that there is a cottage industry of folks who claimed that it was me.

Thank you.
 
  • Jenny2

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    It's from Hilary Clinton' class day address at Yale. I can find quite a few sentences containing this expression from the search engin, but just couldn't figure out the meaning.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    the production, for sale, of goods at home, as the making of handicrafts by rural families.
    • Communications, Business any small-scale, loosely organized industry.
    This is a (sort of) joke. She's saying there is a "loosely organised, small scale industry" spreading the rumour that she set fire to the International Law Library.

    I'd say that the sub-text is there are a lot of people spreading ridiculously false rumours about her as part of a deliberate campaign to discredit her. There may be even more to it that someone better informed than me can comment on.
     

    Jenny2

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    This is a (sort of) joke. She's saying there is a "loosely organised, small scale industry" spreading the rumour that she set fire to the International Law Library.

    I'd say that the sub-text is there are a lot of people spreading ridiculously false rumours about her as part of a deliberate campaign to discredit her. There may be even more to it that someone better informed than me can comment on.
    Thank you, Hermione. But it is still hard for me to understand.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    An industry usually implies an organised activity.

    She's saying that the people who accuse her of starting the fire are doing it on a large enough scale and with enough organisation that it could be called a "cottage industry", a small-scale industry. The joke is in the exaggeration, in the reference to gossip about this incident as an industry.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    A 'cottage' is a small house in the country. Although the phrase is apparently quite recent, 'cottage industry' is the term used to describe production of piece items that took place in people's homes. For example stockings were often knitted by poor people in their homes.They were paid by the pair and very poorly paid.
    The contrast is with industrial scale production in factories with a regular, work force, paid wages. The term 'cottage industry' is usually used in a historical context of the industrial revolution in the UK, and in social history.
    I'm not quite sure how it is understood in the USA, but I imagine it means much the same thing.

    The opposite of a 'cottage' industry in terms of gossip would be a carefully organised campaign of vilification by people who wanted to destroy her reputation.
    In fact, that is probably nearer the truth. She is dismissing the potential power of the malicious rumours whether ridiculous or not by saying there are just a few people spreading them and they have no importance.
     
    Last edited:

    Jenny2

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    Thank you, Barque. Thank you, Hermione. I think Hermione's second reply helps me understand it better. But Barque's explanation sounds reasonable too. We don't have simillar expression in Chinese, so even I know the meaning of cottage industy, its use here was strange to me. Now I understand.Thank both of you a lot.:)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top