to have form in

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Nunty, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    This sentence is from The Economist 3 Sept 2011.
    Mrs Dorries, who calls herself “pro-choice” but has form in campaigns to whittle down abortion rights, argues that such charities cannot give independent advice because their financial interest lies in doing more abortions.

    The WR dictionary has a definition "form in (or chiefly Brit. on) form playing or performing well" but I'm not sure if this phrase collocates with have or if it's even the right definition here.

    What does it mean to say that the lady "has form in" certain socio-political campaigns?

    Thank you.
     
  2. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Morning.

    It means that she is not new to the type of campaign that is under way now. She has a record of involvement in campaigns of this type. It comes from UK judicial and police slang: "to have form" means to possess a criminal record - but that does not imply that Mrs Dorries' activities are or have ever been illegal in any way. "To have form" is not the same as "to be on form".
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
  3. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    "form" can mean record or reputation.

    If a person "has form" it means the person has a well-founded reputation for being or doing something.

    He has form as a long-time critic and did not miss this opportunity.

    It is also common police talk for "prior convictions".
    "It is hard to believe that he got through the checks. He has form as long as your arm with some fairly serious convictions.

    So by using the expression the writer is saying that Mrs Dorries has a record of previously acting against pro-choice aims.
     
  4. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Thank you, sound shift (and Brioche - we cross posted). Is there any connotation to the expression "has form in"?
     
  5. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English

    Because of its use by the police for prior convictions, for me, "to have form" has a pejorative flavour.
     
  6. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Thanks again, Brioche. :)
     

Share This Page

Loading...