pluck a number out of the air

kaven-ever

Senior Member
Chinese
Definition from The Free Dictionary:
If you pluck a number out of the air, you say any number and not one that is the result of careful calculation.

If I say "the number I pluck out of the air", does it mean I get a result which may be any but 1, that is 2, 3, 4, 5...?
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    No, you just make up a number or guess.

    If you ask me what percentage of cows are black and white, and I say 50%, I just 'plucked the number out of the air'. I made it up or guessed. In fact, I have no idea what the percentage is.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It's a wild guess. If someone claims to know the exact number of something, people who don't think they know will accuse them of 'plucking the number out of the air.'

    However, someone who is very unsure, but makes a guess, may also say that they are 'plucking the number out of of the air', as a way of saying that they aren't at all sure of the answer. It's not always an accusation. Sometimes people say it about themselves because they want to be honest.
     
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