that yawn of something

Zahraa Samy

Senior Member
"If it’s a softer prison you’re after, that’s just a couple miles up the road. A short drive away is Bastøy, a picturesque island that houses 115 felons who are sitting out the last years of their sentences. What happens here is analogous to the BBC’s Prison Experiment, that yawn of a reality show that disintegrated into a pacifist commune."

I read the bove sentences in Humankind by Rutger Bregman, and I am wondering about the meaning of the underlined part. The closest meaning that I found in dictionaries is that it means it's boring, but I am not sure about that, it seems a bit off context for me. What do you think?
  • Korisnik116

    Senior Member
    I don't see any other possible interpretations. I hadn't heard of this exact simile before, but "boring" is the first thing that comes to mind ("yawn" => "boring"), and reality shows in general are precisely that. I don't think that little comment was intended to paint the prison in a bad light, but I understand how you might see it as a little jarring in tone.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    This kind of possessive construction involving two nouns instead of adjective + noun may not be very common, but it's productive.

    He's a wretch of a man. He's a despicable man.

    I baked a horror of a cake yesterday.
    It was a terrible cake, quite inedible.

    Similarly, "a yawn of a TV show" (which is not a set phrase, though it seems to me quite apposite :)) would refer to a very boring show.