does this mean the family is well to do or poor?
thank you.I wouldn't be quite sure without having seen the context. Where did you find the phrase, xyliu?
It's rather relative, and sometimes it means "not very wealthy in comparison
towith other families".
Thank you very much for your clear explanation! I also think the problem here is that this is a translated work and not a idiomatic use.Thanks for the context.
I think your meaning is clear, since you contrast these families with more wealthy ones. It isn't altogether idiomatic nowadays to talk about "modest wealth", I think. I might say,
Instead, most come from families of more modest means.
For me, that would not imply that they are poor; merely less wealthy than the elite.
I see I'm disagreeing with dojibear here, so perhaps it's an AE/BE difference. There must be other suitable expressions, but I can't think of any at the moment.