a new low

Siavash2015

Senior Member
Iranian-Persian
Hello everyone.
Would you please tell me what a new low and a new middle mean?
In the TV show( how I met your mother) Barney messes with Ted's head. In short he does something unpleasant.
Lilly tells Barney:

Lilly: you know, for anyone else this would be a new low. But sadly, for you, it's just a new middle.

Thank you so much in advance.
 
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  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    When someone does something underhanded or despicable we say "that was a low blow" or "how could you stoop so low". Low is associated with bad behavior just as high is associated with good behavior. The lowest point something reaches is "the low". What he did was so despicable that it would be a new low point in their behavior - "a new low". Lilly is saying that Barney's behavior is regularly so awful that this only qualifies as a new midpoint in the range of his bad behavior - "a new middle".
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    'A low' is a shortened version of 'a low point', i.e. a bad point in time, or a bad event in a line of events.

    For example, I went on holiday in January, then I lost a lot of money in February, then I fell ill during the Spring, then I got better in the Summer, and finally my cat was killed by a fox in Autumn which caused me to become ill again . So Summer was a high (point) for me, February was a low point, Spring was another low point. But I reached a new low (point) in Autumn, since it was worse than either of the two previous low (points). Autumn was a new low, i.e. a new lowest point.

    The metaphor comes from graphs, such as weather charts: the 'low' on a temperature graph is the lowest temperature reached in a given period of time, i.e. the lowest point reached by the line. Over a longer period of time, the line will rise and fall, causing many different 'lows'. If the lowest temperature this week was -4 degrees, that would be the low for this week. If it reaches -5 degrees tomorrow, that will be a new low.
     

    Siavash2015

    Senior Member
    Iranian-Persian
    'A low' is a shortened version of 'a low point', i.e. a bad point in time, or a bad event in a line of events.

    For example, I went on holiday in January, then I lost a lot of money in February, then I fell ill during the Spring, then I got better in the Summer, and finally my cat was killed by a fox in Autumn which caused me to become ill again . So Summer was a high (point) for me, February was a low point, Spring was another low point. But I reached a new low (point) in Autumn, since it was worse than either of the two previous low (points). Autumn was a new low, i.e. a new lowest point.

    The metaphor comes from graphs, such as weather charts: the 'low' on a temperature graph is the lowest temperature reached in a given period of time, i.e. the lowest point reached by the line. Over a longer period of time, the line will rise and fall, causing many different 'lows'. If the lowest temperature this week was -4 degrees, that would be the low for this week. If it reaches -5 degrees tomorrow, that will be a new low.

    Wow! Fantastic explanation! Really clever. it helped.
    Can't thank you enough :)
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    And I nearly forgot: 'a new middle' is not a common phrase, it's just replacing the word 'low' in the set phrase 'new low' with 'middle', i.e. indicating that the 'low' is not the lowest point ever, it's just a slightly lower point than usual. It doesn't really make sense if you think about it literally, but just take it to mean what James and Benny say: it might be a new low for someone else but for him it is within the range of the behaviour she has already experienced from him.
     
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