mock-stern

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jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
‘If that’s all right with you, Inspector.’ Mock-stern because, in theory, she was his boss when it came to serious crime in the Highlands and Islands.
Source: Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

Detective Inspector Jimmy is on the call with the chief investigator Willow Reeves, telling her about the new murdered woman. She asked him if he could book her onto the last flight from Glasgow.

What does mock-stern mean?

Note there is an existing thread with the same title but with no definition.

Glossary:
mock- adjective: not real or true: used with some adjectives: a mock-stern expression.

Thank you.
 
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  • jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. The dictionary says mock means not real, not true. So what does mock-stern mean? Not really stern?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suppose she pretended to be stern as a joke. Strictly speaking, she must formally request his permission in such a grave matter. But the reality of their relationship is such that sternness is impossible.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    She said it with her "boss voice", which is a way she wouldn't usually talk to him and which she didn't expect him to take seriously.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. So if I say something with a mock-stern expression to my son, I am voicing something in a stern tone, which is unusual for me, right?

    And if I give my daughter a mock-stern look, I am giving her a stern look, which is not my usual response, right?
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    And if I give my daughter a mock-stern look, I am giving her a stern look, which is not my usual response, right?
    Mock means pretend or imitation. If you are really being stern with her it's not mock-stern, whether it's usual or not.

    In your excerpt it's mock-stern because she doesn't mean it seriously - she's pretending to be stern. She only pretends because of what teddy said: the reality of their relationship is such that [real] sternness is impossible. She knows him very well and they are friends and she would feel strange being genuinely stern with him. But for the sake of her job, to act official, she pretends to be stern with him. He knows she's pretending.

    If your daughter doesn't know you are pretending, it's not mock-stern.
     
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