aught of <profit>

thédechine

Senior Member
Italiano
What do you think the meaning of "profit" would be in this context?

In closing I would say that if I have succeeded, however imperfectly, in my efforts to amuse, if I have served to while away an idle hour, if I have caught within these pages aught of profit or of pleasure – in short, if I have written the best book of the season, I shall be very much surprised.
Source: How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes, by Will Cuppy (published in 1931).
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It is rather old-fashioned to say that you read books for profit or for pleasure, where 'profit' means you gain something by it: knowledge, or moral improvement. You profit by reading it. Even in 1931, 'aught of' was very old-fashioned, so he was deliberately invoking that sense from books of earlier days. However, he is writing it for profit or pleasure, and as he then goes on to mention the 'best book of the season', he may be jokingly hoping that it sells well - he may make a profit, in the modern sense of money.
     

    thédechine

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    It is rather old-fashioned to say that you read books for profit or for pleasure, where 'profit' means you gain something by it: knowledge, or moral improvement. You profit by reading it. Even in 1931, 'aught of' was very old-fashioned, so he was deliberately invoking that sense from books of earlier days. However, he is writing it for profit or pleasure, and as he then goes on to mention the 'best book of the season', he may be jokingly hoping that it sells well - he may make a profit, in the modern sense of money.
    Thanks a lot!
     

    thédechine

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    It is rather old-fashioned to say that you read books for profit or for pleasure, where 'profit' means you gain something by it: knowledge, or moral improvement. You profit by reading it. Even in 1931, 'aught of' was very old-fashioned, so he was deliberately invoking that sense from books of earlier days. However, he is writing it for profit or pleasure, and as he then goes on to mention the 'best book of the season', he may be jokingly hoping that it sells well - he may make a profit, in the modern sense of money.
    Now I think I have a new problem: if I have caught within these pages aught of profit or of pleasure. I am not sure I've really got it. Could you please tell me what it means?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "if I have caught within these pages aught of profit or of pleasure" = If I have managed to put anything beneficial or entertaining in this book.
     

    Earle the Viking

    Member
    Ænglish Angle Viking American (Canada)
    aught a good old saxon word that comes from the verb owe, which orginally didn´t mean do owe money but rather to possess or (to own). and aught originally can mean a possesion, now if you get a possession from something it could be understood as a boot! or in good old latin words Lucre! or profit!

    Earle the Saxon
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    aught a good old saxon word that comes from the verb owe, which orginally didn´t mean do owe money but rather to possess or (to own). and aught originally can mean a possesion, now if you get a possession from something it could be understood as a boot! or in good old latin words Lucre! or profit!

    Earle the Saxon
    Sorry to disagree. In this case 'aught' means 'anything'. The etymology is different from 'ought' meaning 'owe'.

    aught, ought(used with a negative or in conditional or interrogative sentences or clauses) /ɔːt/ archaic or literary pron
    • anything at all; anything whatever (esp in the phrase for aught I know)
    adv
    • dialect in any least part; to any degree
    Etymology: Old English āwiht, from ā ever, ay1 + wiht thing; see wight1
    http://www.wordreference.com/definition/aught


    if I have caught within these pages aught of profit or of pleasure ----> if I have caught within these pages anything of profit or of pleasure
     
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    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It might be worth mentioning that this word is still used in everyday speech in some parts of the UK. For example in Yorkshire, England the word is now pronounced "owt" (as indeed it may at one time have been with the spelling 'aught').

    There's an old proverb still in use especially in Northern England, "You don't get owt for nowt." It means you don't get anything for nothing.
     
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