merely emphasized


Senior Member
Hello everyone!

Could you please tell me the meaning of ''merely'' in this context:

''He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail figure, the meagreness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls which were the uniform of the party.''
(1984 - George Orwell).

I didn't understand if it meant that the overalls emphasized his meagreness or hided it.

Thank you..
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    Orwell is piling up adjectives and adverbs of smallness in order to emphasize the insignificance of the person in comparison with the might of the party. "Merely" echoes the sound of 'meagreness', increasing the effect. So emphasize is correct, and hid is wrong.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    (You might expect the overalls to hide his skinniness.) But in fact they merely/only made it more obvious. "Merely" suggests the contrast that I've put in parenthesis.


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    The overalls may well hide his actual figure, but they can nevertheless emphasize his meagreness when they are obviously too loose and baggy.