as subtle as Hiroshima

  • Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I've also never heard it as an expression, but the meaning is clear enough --
    dropping an atomic bomb on someone is approximately the maximum of 'not subtle'.

    Perhaps it's in peoples' minds at this time because last week (6th August, 2010) was the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (and of Nagasaki on the 9th).
    *
     

    ><FISH'>

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hiroshima is almost always mentioned in reference to the gross act of terrorism that was inflicted upon it, so you can bet that 99% of the time if you hear this place, it's going to be in reference to the mass slaughter and/or the subsequent radiation poisoning that the place endured.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    As copyright and rival have implied, the phrase is an excellent example of the use of "irony," a figure of speech which involves the expression of exactly the opposite of what one means. Another example might be: during the middle of a devastating hurricane one remarks, "Nice day, eh?"
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Hiroshima is almost always mentioned in reference to the gross act of terrorism that was inflicted upon it, so you can bet that 99% of the time if you hear this place, it's going to be in reference to the mass slaughter and/or the subsequent radiation poisoning that the place endured.
    Fish, apart from your political agenda, do you have an opinion on the question asked about the use of "subtle" in this context? ;)
     

    ><FISH'>

    Senior Member
    British English
    Fish, apart from your political agenda, do you have an opinion on the question asked about the use of "subtle" in this context? ;)
    I do not have a political agenda, I am explaining the events that this word is associated with and its stance in the English language, and thus the context in which it is here used is basically like saying "As subtle as an ultra-destructive bomb". The irony being, of course, that a bomb is not subtle.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Gross act of terrorism" is surely not a politically neutral description of the events, Fish. ;) Rival's explanation above was. I think that was Spira's point.

    "As subtle as Hiroshima" reminds me of a German expression: "a wink with a fencepost". The German expression always brought a cartoon-like image to mind for me. The Hiroshima one, of course, doesn't.
     
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