to take the Greenwich time from someone

*cat*

Senior Member
Slovene
Hello!

Please, explain me what does this mean:
She takes the Greenwich time from him.

Is it some kind of metaphor or proverb?

Thank you.
 
  • Grop

    Senior Member
    français
    This sounds really british: I suppose it only makes sense to people using Greenwich time as local time.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Bibliolept is almost certainly correct about the meaning. I'm pretty sure it's an invention of the author, it's pretty clumsy and not a very intuitive metaphor in my view, at least not in the form presented here.

    Even in Britain we are not on Greenwich Mean/Meridian Time for much of the year, so it doesn't refer to local time as such; GMT is the international time reference by which relative time zones are measured and it is therefore a standard, which is the point of using it as a metaphor. See this link for a more comprehensive explanation of GMT.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've never heard it either; it's definitely not a proverb, though it may well be a metaphor, in which case bibliolept's meaning seems highly likely.

    It looks to me like a translation from another language. I can't evisage a context in which I'd say "the Greenwich time" unless the phrase modified another noun (as in, say, "the Greenwich time signal").
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    This is a second-hand quote from an Agatha Christie story:
    "But we didn't know—" She broke off. Her light eyes went quickly to her husband's face.
    "It is from him she takes the Greenwich time," said Poirot to himself.
    I would provide a link, but it's just an excerpt that may not be accurate.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    No, I've never come across this before either. I agree with MM that it's not very intuitive. I would have taken it to be a variant of She sets her clock by him ~ i.e. he is extremely punctual.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    She takes the Greenwich time from him.
    Is it some kind of metaphor or proverb?
    Like other contributors, I have never heard this metaphor before; and all the (few) references I found on line pointed back to Agatha Christie's writing.
    It may well be relevant that Agatha Christie's hero, Hercule Poirot, was a Belgian, and not a native speaker of English.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    No, I've never come across this before either. I agree with MM that it's not very intuitive. I would have taken it to be a variant of She sets her clock by him ~ i.e. he is extremely punctual.
    I certainly don't understand it as "punctual", but rather as "she does everything as he tells her", he controls her, or rather, she let herself be controlled…
    I'd rather take it to be a variant of "She'd believe black was white if he said so".
    Yes, she takes his words as gospel.
     

    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It's an old fashioned expression as most of Agatha Christie's are, but would certainly be fully understood by my parents' generation. I wouldn't say it had anything to do with being punctual. More that as the Greenwich Meridian is the benchmark by which the rest of the world sets the time, so she looks to him to set her own moral standards against. If he considers an action to be morally incorrect, then she would think so as well. It suggests that he is a rogue who might consider some anti-social behaviour to be acceptable and she would follow his lead rather than think for herself because of her strong feelings of admiration for him. In short, it means she is besotted with him and under his control. It is not a flattering comment about either of them and one that the older people listening would be very worried about.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    For whatever reason, whether she is besotted, whether she's depends on him and has a submissive relationship, or because she really admires him or respects his opinion, the point is that she will follow his lead and do what he says (or do what she thinks he wants her to do or what he thinks he considers best for her).
     

    *cat*

    Senior Member
    Slovene
    Thank you all. I understand it now.
    We have one expression like that one in our country too (Njegove besede ima za sveto resnico), but I didn't think of it before.

    Once again, thank you! :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top