in the clothes you stand up in

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jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
“You are to go west,” Mother Abagail whispered. “You are to take no food, no water. You are to go this very day, and in the clothes you stand up in. <...>. I am in the way of knowing that one of you will not reach your destination, but I don’t know which will be the one to fall.
Source: The Stand by Stephen King
Context: Mother Abagail (108 y.o.) is speaking to the Free Zone Committee members as her hour (of death) is approaching. She is perceived to be a semigod and holy amongst the Boulder community.

in the clothes you stand up in ~ in the clothes you are wearing now standing up, right?

Is this 'stand up in' collocation common?

Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    in the clothes you stand up in ~ in the clothes you are wearing now standing up, right?
    Yes. Here, by implication, it carries the broader meaning of "without delay" (i.e. you do not need to change your clothes - there is no time for that.) but that meaning is contextual.
    Is this 'stand up in' collocation common?
    "The clothes one <to stand> up in" is a set phrase
     
    Last edited:

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You'll find some more modern examples if you Google "the clothes you're standing in." Keep in mind that Mother Abigail is a black woman who was born around 1860, probably didn't go to school, and has spent her life in a small town. (And her dialogue is being written by Stephen King. ;))
     

    Piatkow

    Senior Member
    English - London
    To me it implies going now without even packing a change of clothes.

    "Nothing but the clothes I / they stand up in" is a phrase used on Britain to mean that somebody has been left without any possessions.
    Most commonly heard to describe the victims of house fires and people whose airline has sent their luggage to the wrong holiday resport.

    EDIT - correcting the typo that everybody was polite enough to ignore
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Another way to say that (at least in AE) is:

    I escaped the fire with nothing but the clothes on my back.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    In BE,
    with nothing but the clothes on my back.
    and
    "Nothing but the clothes I / they stand up in"
    have a lot of overlap but not the same -
    "with nothing but the clothes on my back." seems restricted to deprivation and arouses pity.
    "Nothing but the clothes I stand up in" can speak of urgency, as in the example.
     

    Afta

    New Member
    English
    "...the clothes you stand up in" is a quote from the 1985 film Plenty. Meryl Streep's character worked in the French Resistance during World War II, and never got her life together after that. She drifts from one job to the next, one relationship to the next. She makes this remark in public, and thinks of it as a declaration of self-reliance, but she is inadvertently admitting she has no connection to anything or anyone.
     
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