mincing thought

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Odarpi

Senior Member
Polish - Poland
Hello.

I've seem the definition of the word 'mincing' in the dictionary, but I'm not sure how it fits this context here:


She tamped down the mincing thought that she shouldn't be spending money. When things were rotten, you had clearance to do whatever you needed to do to get by [...]

S. Clifford - Everybody Rise

How would you understand it?
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello,

    I wouldn't understand it all. No idea what a 'mincing thought' is: 'mincing' doesn't collocate with 'thought' to my mind. I'm sorry I can't help you here.

    (Later: I've thought some more about this. See post 4.)
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think this meaning comes from "to mince" -> to use a specific construction of words to lessen the impact of an unpalatable idea/phrase/word or circumstances, etc, in a over-sensitive, too unassertive and genteel manner, so as not to cause imagined offence:

    A: "I find Harry to be a little difficult sometimes."
    B: "Don't mince your words! You mean that you think Harry is a liar, a cheat and despicably immoral, don't you?"
    A: "Yes - I do."

    In your example, mincing also carries the idea of the thought being persistent and caused by culture and background.

    Also, "thought" means "general public belief" or "customary philosophy" - here it is the idea that the poor should not complain, but instead endure and suffer their poverty silently.

    She tamped down the mincing thought that she shouldn't be spending money.= She suppressed the (to her annoying and guilt inducing) cultural belief that, in times of poverty, she shouldn't be spending money.
     
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've had another idea. Maybe the thought "minced" in the sense that it made her feel as if she was being put through a mincer: the thought was very unpleasant. I would classify that as "creative use of language by the author".
     

    joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    I only know S. Clifford and Everybody Rise through Odarpi's posts here and I'd say that when "creative use of language" goes beyond what most native speakers can understand, which I've noticed more than a few times, I think any free interpretation is justified. Good luck, Odarpi!
     
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