come by meaning 'to receive' - news context

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Senior Member

Please, tell me if I understand correctly (I think I do, though I am not completely sure) the meaning of the phrasal verb 'to come by' in the following two sentences:

1) Lack of earmarks makes Washington cash harder to come by. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

It is hard for Washington (that is Government) to receive (come by) cash. Correct?

2) 'Moms' Night Out' finds faith-based laughs hard to come by. (Colorado Springs Gazette)

This comedy is not really funny and it does not receive (come by) laughs. Correct?

Thank you!
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    The first one, I think Washington cash is a way of describing government funding, though I don't know what earmarks are here, I think it means the subject of the paragraph is struggling to get government funding.

    Your gloss on the second one seems fine.

    Come by seems to be an elaborate way of saying 'get' !


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "To come by " means rather "to obtain".

    The first sentence needs some context:
    The Minnesota authorities want to obtain cash from central government (Washington) to build a new airport runway. Your interpretation is incorrect.

    2. Correct. The laughs are "hard to come by"; it means they are difficult to obtain. "Mom's Night Out" finds that those jokes don't make people laugh much.
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