he could be pushed a ways

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jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
“No need for her to be,” Stu said easily. It was hard to sound easy, but he felt it was important to hide his fear from this man. Denninger looked and acted like the kind of man who would ride his help and bullyrag them around but lick up to his superiors like an egg-suck dog. That kind of man could be pushed a ways if he thought you held the whip hand. But if he smelled fear on you, he would hand you the same old cake: a thin icing of “I’m sorry I can’t tell you more” on top and a lot of contempt for stupid civilians who wanted to know more than what was good for them underneath.
Source: The Stand by Stephen King
Context: Stu is quarantined. He had insisted that a doctor comes and tells him the reason thereto. In this scene, Stu is reflecting on Dr Denninger who stepped through the double-paned glass door.

I do not understand the construct of this sentence: he could be pushed a ways. Is way singular here? What does it mean? Or is it a typo?
I understand to hold the whip hand = to have an advantage.
Thank you.

Edit. typo corrected.
 
Last edited:
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "He could be pushed" means that you could push him, get him to do what you wanted, if he thought you were in a stronger position than he was.

    Yes, you're right about "hold the whip hand."
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. What about ' a ways' - be pushed a ways. Why an indefinite article before plural ways? I understand indefinite articles a and an are for singular nouns.
     
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