they had a bit of a <holy fear> of me

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 408, chapter 18) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Connie dated with Mellors in London. She said to Mellors:‘I want to live with you’, but Mellors said:‘If it’s worth it to you. But I’ve got nothing.’..…)

I could have got on in the army, easily, but I didn’t like the army. Though I could manage the men all right: they liked me and they had a bit of a holy fear of me when I got mad. No, it was stupid, dead-handed higher authority that made the army dead: absolutely fool-dead. I like men, and men like me.

What's the meaning of holy fear please? Extreme fear?
Thank you in advance
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, and 'mad' means 'angry'.
    By the way, Connie and Mellors didn't "date/have a date". That's just the wrong word.

    Connie and Mellors had a rendezvous in London. That's the French word we use for this sort of meeting (up with) another person.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Ah!In Chinese, when a girlfriend or a boyfriend goes to see the other one, without others present, we call it date.

    And now I know holy=very.
    Thanks a lot
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    That's not quite right, "holy" doesn't mean "very" ... it's saying their fear is like the fear of God that preachers talk about, I think. That's what he means by "holy fear" - that they fear his anger like they fear the wrath of God. Which is certainly an extreme fear, so your interpretation of the phrase is right, but not of the word "holy."
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    They are adulterous lovers in England in the 1920's, not boyfriend and girlfriend nowadays. I am glad you have changed it to a more suitable expression.
     
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