some [stern], short questions

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Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 26) | Genius

Quotation: The morning had been a quiet morning enough—all except the brief scene with the lunatic: the transaction in the church had not been noisy; there was no explosion of passion, no loud altercation, no dispute, no defiance or challenge, no tears, no sobs: a few words had been spoken, a calmly pronounced objection to the marriage made; some stern, short questions put by Mr. Rochester; answers, explanations given, evidence adduced; an open admission of the truth had been uttered by my master; then the living proof had been seen; the intruders were gone, and all was over.
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Hi everyone! I don’t understand “stern” here. WR dictionary tells me “stern” means “hard, harsh, or severe:”, but I still can’t grasp it. So I posted the thread for help.

My try: stern = very serious especially in an unfriendly way Stern - Definition for English-Language Learners from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary
Stern questions => very serious and unfriendly questions
 
  • Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I wouldn't use "unfriendly" (though he probably was) but "very serious" and "hard" fit.
    Thank you for your explanation. I find it still hard to grasp it, for "hard" has a wide range of meanings. :confused: So I try to narrow it...

    stern questions => questions expressive of no sympathy and yielding.

    Does it fit here?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    No, in this context it doesn't mean unsympathetic. It means "hard" as in "harsh" or "severe" - the other words that you used in your OP.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It means "hard" as in "harsh" or "severe" - the other words that you used in your OP.
    :oops: Hmm... yes. But the problem is that I'm afraid I can't grasp "harsh question" here... I can't decide "stern" (or severe/harsh) here means "expressive of no sympathy and yielding", "unnecessarily extreme" or "causing discomfort or distress by extreme character or conditions"... Sorry for any inconvenience... :oops:

    My another try:
    stern => 1. b : expressive of severe displeasure : HARSH (M-W dictionary)
    stern questions => questions expressive of (his) severe displeasure

    Is it suitable here?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I think you could understand it as "expressive of severe displeasure" if that helps. "Harsh" and "severe" may not exactly be the right words. In this context, "stern" implies a very serious or forbidding demeanour.
     
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