a snooze of a speech

  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "A snooze of a speech" -> "An X of a Y" -> a Y that is like the main attribute of X. (in this case: "a speech that was so boring it was like snoozing.")

    "The new Ford Possum is a dream of a car." -> a car you dream about -> a beautiful car
    "The new Ford Possum is a dog of a car." -> a car that is filled with problems -> a horrible car
    "The new Ford Possum is a beast of a car." -> a very powerful car.

    Positive or negative depending on context and the meaning of X.
     

    milanforart

    Member
    Chinese
    Thank you for the explanation. So it's also correct to say something like " Meg is a role model of a student", "David is a dream of a man"?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    " Meg is a role model of a student", -> this is possible but it is not the usual use. Usually, in "Subject is an X of a Y." X is figurative rather than literal. "It was a storm of a speech."

    "David is a dream of a man"? :tick:

    Older constructions in the manner tend to be obscure idioms: "We had a whale (something very big) of a time!" "He's a broth (powerful, fine example) of a boy (IrishE)"
     

    milanforart

    Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, PaulQ, I learned a lot from you responses. A broth of a boy, OH, what kind of a boy that can be? :)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I looked up the origins of "A broth of a boy.": OED ->
    Phrases. †to make white broth of, said of boiling to death (as a poisoner). a broth of a boy: the essence of what a boy should be, a downright good fellow (colloq. Irish).
    ...
    1843 C. E. Tonna Judah's Lion 131 Papa says you are the broth of a boy, for taking care of me.
     

    milanforart

    Member
    Chinese
    Thanks, PaulQ, I am indebted to you.

    She is a rose (lotus, sunflower) of a woman. I guess this should be right? This phrase needs imagination.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    She is a rose (lotus, sunflower) of a woman. I guess this should be right? This phrase needs imagination.
    Not really, it is too direct.

    The construction is very hard for a non-native to use as there are no rules or formulas: Perhaps if you think of "It was like an X" where X is an unusual, but appropriate, example of a specific trait, this might help...

    "The meal had been cooked by a mouse of a woman - Mrs Bradshaw, who had been the cook for 15 years." <- small and timid.
    "It was a devil of a job." -> it was a very difficult job that tested your patience.
    "The war was a terrible loss for the country - the flower of its youth was/were cut down." <- its young men were killed.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    the flower of its youth
    I agree with everything you said, up to here. This one is a different structure, though. It's like "the cream of the crop" or "the best of the best."

    "A devil of a job" --> The job is metaphorically like a devil. :tick:
    "The cream of the crop" --> The entire crop is metaphorically like cream. :cross:
     
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