The helicopter hammered north

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jacdac, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. jacdac

    jacdac Senior Member

    Lebanese
    The Bell lifted straight off the ground, drifted left a little, rotated slightly, and then retracted its wheels and climbed a thousand feet. Then it dipped its nose and hammered north, high and fast. Below it roads and science parks and small factories and neat isolated suburban communities slid past. Brick walls and metal siding blazed red in the late sun.
    Source: Bad Luck and trouble by Lee Child
    Context: The Bell is a helicopter, Bell 222.

    What is your metaphorical interpretation of hammer (north)?

    Thank you
     
  2. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    'To hammer' is an informal verb meaning 'to drive fast'. It's usually applied to driving cars (He hammered down the motorway at 90mph), but here it's applied to a helicopter - flying northwards.
     
  3. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    The noise of a helicopter in flight is evocative of an enormous hammer.

    So to hammer north, is just to go north making this hammering sound.

    For once I don't fully agree with Heypresto, with whom I cross posted.
     
  4. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    Yes, that's that's entirely possible.


    Heads or tails?
     
  5. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Why don't we agree to split the difference? It could be a combination of both.
     
  6. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I fully agree with heypresto. :)

    In American slang, at least, hammered in that context just means go very fast, make urgent speed.

    Well, I just looked up Lee Child and he's a British writer so it's anyone's guess.

    I'll also add my opinion that those first two sentences are pretty crappy writing.
     
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    As a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crewman, I'll go for the whopping hammer sound.:)
     
  8. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I'd like to revise my answer. A better meaning of hammered here is to move with great urgency, effort or force.

    -- Then it dipped its nose and hammered north, high and fast.

    In other words, it went north urgently which had the result that it went fast.

    Here are similar quotes from a web search:
    -- He hammered through the city centre, running red lights...
    -- In just his second marathon, he hammered through 20 miles and was on pace for his goal-time of 2:14 before...

    Ultimately, I think it's based on the repetitive motion of legs, pistons and blades which are, metaphorically, behaving like hammers.
     
  9. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    As a former passenger in some of the Queen's helicopters, I would too. I do accept that a common meaning of "to hammer" is "to travel quickly". But I wouldn't write "the helicopter travelled quickly, high and fast". If it's that sort of hammering we already know that it's fast.
     
  10. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    As someone living under the flight path of many of them at different stages of my life, I'd also go for the sound. :D
     
  11. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    Having seen Apocalypse Now a few times, I think I'm now coming round to this interpretation.
     

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