I’d make a stunning little naval cadet

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Baheth

Senior Member
Arabic
“Dorothy, I never thought it of you,” said Katherine, with an
exaggerated sigh. “I wish it were a fancy dress ball, then I’d borrow my
brother Jack’s uniform, and go in that.”
“Katherine, I’m shocked at you,” complained the mother.
“I don’t care: I’d make a stunning little naval cadet. But, Dorothy, you
must be starved to death; you’ve never touched your lunch.”



I have read this in Robert Barr's 'A Rock In The Baltic'
I guess that she means she will look like a stunning little naval cadet. Is this true? The problem is that I cannot find in any dictionary that make may mean to appear as ... . I find that it can mean become. Can become here be understood figuratively? I am confused! Would you please explain her sentence?

* Edit. Dorothy refuses to make their dresses.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I guess that she means she will look like a stunning little naval cadet. Is this true?
    Sort of, but I think I'd rearrange it slightly. She will look stunning as a (=pretending to be) little naval cadet.

    I find that it can mean become.
    :thumbsup:
    Turn into might be a better choice than "become", but the difference is slight.
    Can become here be understood figuratively?
    Certainly. Almost everything in English can be understood figuratively.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Little indicates that it's figurative. It's used when people don't have the qualifications to be the real thing but want to appear so. It's often used with children.

    "You'd make a great doctor." - straightforward and factual

    "You'd make a great little doctor." - figurative, it might be said about a child dressing up to appear as a doctor

    She is not male so she can't be a naval cadet. But she can be a stunning little naval cadet, i.e. she would look impressive in her brother's uniform pretending to be a naval cadet.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ? The problem is that I cannot find in any dictionary that make may mean to appear as ... . .
    The WordReference dictionary puts it this way:

    4. to become; develop into:[not: be + ~-ing; ~ + object] Someday you'll make a good lawyer.

    I don’t feel this sense is different.
    5. to be adequate or suitable for:[not: be + ~-ing; ~ + object] This table will make a good lectern.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    “Dorothy, I never thought it of you,” said Katherine, with an
    exaggerated sigh. “I wish it were a fancy dress ball, then I’d borrow my
    brother Jack’s uniform, and go in that.”
    “Katherine, I’m shocked at you,” complained the mother.
    “I don’t care: I’d make a stunning little naval cadet. But, Dorothy, you
    must be starved to death; you’ve never touched your lunch.”



    I have read this in Robert Barr's 'A Rock In The Baltic'
    I guess that she means she will look like a stunning little naval cadet. Is this true? The problem is that I cannot find in any dictionary that make may mean to appear as ... . I find that it can mean become. Can become here be understood figuratively? I am confused! Would you please explain her sentence?

    * Edit. Dorothy refuses to make their dresses.
    I afraid I don't see this as meaning become. There's no sense in which she would cease to be a pretty girl.

    It's a fancy dress ball, so the meaning is closer to your initial suggestion, Baheth, look like; though that's not quite it either. It's a stage sense: if she went on the stage to act the part of a naval cadet, she would look marvellous.

    I can't find this meaning in the dictionary, but it's common enough in the theatre. People often tell me I'd make a fine King Lear.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Similarly, in the table to lectern example, the table does not cease to be a table! It has a new guise or role.
    But the table wasn't becoming a lectern. It was going to make a good lectern.

    Your dictionary reference, Teddy, was for to make, not for to become.

    When a girl becomes a woman, she ceases to be a girl.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I am confused now. I quoted from #5, which discusses this use of the word make, not how to use become; and the table-to-lectern also is about how to use the word make.
    Exactly. We are agreed about this, Teddy. :)

    I was saying that the word become was not suitable in the case of the girl making a good cadet, because the girl doesn't cease to be a girl.

    The table which makes a good lectern does not cease to be a table. The word make, in this sense, does not here imply a change in more than role.

    I'm saying that become is not a good synonym for make here.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I was saying that the word become was not suitable in the case of the girl making a good cadet, because the girl doesn't cease to be a girl.
    I don't understand the distinction you are trying to make. When Joe Biden becomes President of the United States, he will not cease to be Joe Biden.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't understand the distinction you are trying to make. When Joe Biden becomes President of the United States, he will not cease to be Joe Biden.
    I'm making it. :)

    Are you saying that he's unaltered as Joe Biden when he becomes president, in the way the girl is unaltered as a girl when she makes a good sea cadet?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think it's most clear when you talk about a play.

    You can say an actor will make a great King Lear. You wouldn't say an actor will become a great King Lear.

    He's not turning into King Lear so "become" doesn't fit. "Make" fits because in that context it means he will fit the part in appearance and manner. But he's still just an actor.

    The same with the girl. She will have the superficial appearance of a naval cadet. She will not be enrolled in the academy or be tested on her seagoing skills by putting on a uniform.
     
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