some little time


Senior Member

A canon tells a certain young lady the story of the village he lives in. He says that in the past it was invaded: The men had been in the
district some little time, and being strangers, without
inbred immunity, they had fallen sick of what was called
marsh fever in those days. It sounds like a particularly
unpleasant combination of dysentery and influenza. They
arrived in a very poor state. Ten died. (The Witches/Peter Curtis)

Does "some little time" mean a short time?
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I find this a very confusing and strange phrase, but it goes back a long way (Shakespeare uses it). It's very hard to work out what it means logically, I think, but perhaps we just have to accept that it is a fixed expression that means "an unspecified, but not long, period"; "a while". "Some" in this kind of usage frequently means "not little" or "not inconsiderable", but if it is with "small" then I can hardly think it means that.


    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    I would say it was an intermediate between 'for a little time' and 'for some time'. It means they had been there some time, but not enough to know the customs of the place, in this case about the fever.