That was a bit of a "drive-by"

englishelp

Senior Member
Chinese
This is a line from the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.

Bree Hodge just discovered that her son has been dating a doctor. And here the the conversation. Orson Hodge is Bree's husband and he is a dentist. I am not sure about his response: "That was a bit of a drive-by".

I assume it means "an indiscriminate attack". But maybe it has a more figurative meaning here.

What do native speakers think? How best to paraphrase it?

Thanks!

"Bree: Why the secrecy? Did you think I would disapprove? The man is a doctor for heaven's sake. You've done better than I did!

Orson: That was a bit of a drive-by.

Bree: I am just trying to understand how my son could keep a secret like this from his own mother."
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Orson is likening the situation to an ambush (by Bree of Orson). Bree just off-handedly and incidentally zaps Orson with the information that she thinks that her son's partner is better than her own husband. Orson feels attacked in the quick "mow them down and zoom away" style of drive-by shootings.
     

    Sprachliebhaber

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I don't think it has a more figurative meaning. The definition of a drive-by is something done in a quick or cursory manner, something random or pointless. Maybe "that was a pointless thing to say".
     

    Scribblerr

    Senior Member
    English US
    Making an insulting or critical remark to someone out of the blue is frequently referred to as a "drive by." This is a very recent use of the term.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Orson is likening the situation to an ambush (by Bree of Orson). Bree just off-handedly and incidentally zaps Orson with the information that she thinks that her son's partner is better than her own husband. Orson feels attacked in the quick "mow them down and zoom away" style of drive-by shootings.
    From what I know of that series, I think it was probably a deliberate comment. My interpretation of this is of a sudden and vicious attack, as you say, but not that it was incidental (or pointless).
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    From what I know of that series, I think it was probably a deliberate comment. My interpretation of this is of a sudden and vicious attack, as you say, but not that it was incidental (or pointless).
    Having seen the episode (the show is one of my few vices), I can safely say that it was incidental. After Orson's comment about a drive-by, Bree becomes contrite but again, in an offhand manner, because she's so intent on the subject at hand.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Having seen the episode (the show is one of my few vices), I can safely say that it was incidental. After Orson's comment about a drive-by, Bree becomes contrite but again, in an offhand manner, because she's so intent on the subject at hand.
    Ok, I bow to your greater vice!:D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think I'm being thick:(

    But I (BrE) still don't understand what "drive-by" means.

    Could you pl explain further?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I think I'm being thick:(

    But I (BrE) still don't understand what "drive-by" means.

    Could you pl explain further?
    It's a reference to gang-style killings where a car speeds past the victim and he is shot by one of the passengers without the car even stopping.
     
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