taking refuge in commonplaces

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
He tried to think of something else to say, and ended up taking refuge in commonplaces. "I hope you and your family are in good health?"

"Yes, thank you", she said, "and you?"
Source: Timepiece, Heather Albano

Background: William wandered around an orchard. His heart went all a flutter when he spotted his childhood friend Elizabeth fiddling with a pocket watch. He assumed that it was a love token from an admirer, so he sighed to himself and turned away. However, Elizabeth saw him, and waved him over out of curiosity. During the conversation, he knew she was hiding the watch behind her back, but he didn't let on and pretended innocent. It makes things very awkward for both of them.

Hi, I need some help with the highlighted part. I guess the highlighted part means he tried to get out of the awkward situation by asking banal questions. He hoped that by doing so, their attention would be drawn away from the pocket watch.
 
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Huh, I don't think I'd actually seen 'commonplace' used as a noun before. The word I would've expected is "pleasantries."

    I agree with your interpretation :)
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I agree with you, xqby. They were exchanging pleasantries. Commonplace doesn't sound right in reference to banal questions, social utterances.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    No, commonplace is legitimately used as a noun, though it's not a particularly common one. Its even listed as such in the WR dictionary (http://www.wordreference.com/definition/commonplace). I think a workable synonym here might be banalities rather than pleasantries. The entire phrase "took refuge in commonplaces" means that they avoided an uncomfortable situation by talking about very ordinary, boring things.
     
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