I was so struck all of a heap

sami33

Senior Member
arabic
Hi

I checked the dictionary but I'm still not sure about the meaning of the underlined expression.
I wonder if it means I was beaten up severely. (I think in this context heap=( informal )a large amount or number: we have heaps of room.

“I see him, Spyers,” said Chickweed, “pass my house yesterday morning,” “Why didn’t you up, and collar him!” says Spyers. “I was so struck all of a heap, that you might have fractured my skull with a toothpick,” says the poor man; “but we’re sure to have him; for between ten and eleven o’clock at night he passed again.”

Source: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Chapter 31.
Thank you very much in advance
 
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  • scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    I don't know why he's used heap, but what the entire thing means is that Chickweed was shocked by seeing the man - nothing to do with being beaten up. Maybe Chickweed was so shocked he fell to the floor/collapsed into a chair in a heap, and thus did not move.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Struck all of a heap means disconcerted. It means that the person was so confused by the situation that (figuratively) his muscles all quit working and he tumbled to the ground in a heap (an exaggeration). He didn't actually fall down physically but he wants to express his inability to do something useful "yesterday morning". He is actually just making excuses, as he again failed to do something useful "between ten and eleven o’clock [last] night" when he passed again.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Note that struck all of a heap can refer to the results of a physical attack, but the figurative use is much more common, both then and now. (It would be considered a bit quaint these days.)

    According to the NGram Viewer struck all of a heap saw its peak usage in the 1920s and is still used in books today.

    To explain NGram viewer results: this means that at its peak, one out of every 36 million five-word phrases (actually combinations - ngrams) used in books during the 1920s was "struck all of a heap".
     
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    sami33

    Senior Member
    arabic
    Thank you so very much pwmeek.
    So, "all of" in this context has nothing to do with this WR dictionary definition:all of often ironic as much as.
     

    plantman

    New Member
    English English
    I don't know about the usage of the phrase struck all of a heap in the US but it has a long history in the UK.

    When I was a boy (60 years ago) my mother used to use this. She was born in the Kingston-upon-Hull, East Yorkshire, which is in the north of England.

    Reading Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela which was published in 1740 (I teach literature in one part of my life) I discovered three such usages and another in the first volume of Clarissa which Richardson published in 1749. There is no such usage in Henry Fielding who was a writing contemporary. Richardson was from Derbyshire which is not quite as far north as East Yorkshire but not far off.

    It is quite possible and normal to use the phrase without all of. So struck of a heap means exactly the same as struck all of a heap.
     
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