Close Before Striking

Discussion in 'English Only' started by pumpkin_bird, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. pumpkin_bird Member


    I'm reading a SF novel and do not understand the meaning of "Close Before Striking".

    The characters in this novel went to explore an asteroid
    and found out that this asteroid is actually a alien spaceship.
    The discover several markers.
    Here are the text.
    "We're torn about what message of messages the markers carry."
    "They might just be signage. Close Before Striking kind of stuff."
    "That's high on the list."

    I searched on the Internet to find the right meaning, but failed.
    Please somebody help me!! :)
  2. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "Close Before Striking" is an instruction printed on matchbooks to warn people to close the cover before lighting the match. The phrase is not particularly significant and the speaker is making that point.
  3. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    It's what's on a book of matches: "close (cover) before striking (a match to light it)."

    Here's an Andy Warhol painting of a matchbook that shows this (characteristically useless) slogan:

    The joke is that the instruction is so obvious that it's ridiculous that it should be there at all. This kind of "mere signage" really annoys or amuses some people.
  4. pumpkin_bird Member

    Thank you very much cyberpedant and lucas-sp!
    It is totally different meaning from my guesses!!
    Thank you~!! :)
  5. vsop44 Senior Member

    pays d'Evangeline
    français France
    In the past , close before striking was a warning on most matchbooks covers , this is an example of signage .

    The words that are written on the spaceship might be a warning for the aliens working around the spaceship like fueling etc... (like *stand back 150 meters* that is writen on the back of fire trucks where I live ) and not a message, greeting or even threat for whoever might decipher it .

    I hope I made myself clear .;)
  6. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Just a note that I don't see it as a joke. It's just signage ... in this case a warning on matchboxes and matchbooks. The idea is that you're supposed to remove one match, close the cover, and then strike the match on a scratchy strip on the matchbox or matchbook. While the warning is intended to be serious -- and possibly avoid litigation in the case of conflagration -- I wonder if anyone has accidentally set off an entire matchbox or matchbook by not closing the cover.

    I also don't see it as obvious ... matchbook covers are a nuisance to close and I'm not sure I've seen too many people try to close them before striking. People wanting a fire want a fire now, so they're much more likely to strike the match and then close the cover once their cigarette or campfire is lit -- not closing the cover also makes it easier to get another match out when the first one fails.
  7. alexander.k07 New Member

    Moscow, Russia
    And what novel is that, may I ask?
  8. pumpkin_bird Member

    Thank you vsop44 and Copyright. I understand what you mean. And I agree with both of you.
    In this context, it should be a mere example of signage that everybody knows since they do not talk about it further.
    Thanks again. It is really helpful to know your opinion! :)
  9. pumpkin_bird Member

    It's "Heaven's Shadow" by Goyer&Cassutt. It is a very interesting book and I heard that this book will be a movie!

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