a patent fire escape!

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New Member
I want to know the meaning of a patent fire escape. Here are sentences.

"I had forgotten," she said, "I had really forgotten. We didn't use to think much of religion, did we?"
"Father did," said I.
"No, not even father and his kind - they only used it as a - what was the old joke? a patent fire escape! Nobody appreciated religion!"
"They spent much time and money on it," I suggested.
"That's not appreciation!"
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Thinking of religion as 'like a fire escape' suggests that you never think about it (religion/a fire escape), but it's always there 'in case you need it'.

    A 'patent' fire escape just means a good quality/guaranteed fire escape (it is made according to a 'patent' – a registered good method of fabrication).


    Senior Member
    UK English
    I assume its an escape from the fires of hell. You practice religion just in case it is true (and heaven and hell exist) rather than out of genuine faith.
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