You could taste it; a nervous tension that came perilous close to fear.

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LeonTheZealous

Member
Chinese
Hi everyone, It's great to find such a wonderful forum to discuss languages, to ask and answer, just feel great!

Now I'm starting to read the series of Game of Thrones novel, but I found there are some sentences I can't figure out the meaning, so I think it maybe a good idea to seek help here. Thank you all in advance!

Here is the sentence: You could taste it; a nervous tension that came perilous close to fear.

The part I don't understand is "came perilous close to fear". How to understand this? I know perilous means extremely dangerous, but I can't understand the connection from perilous to fear.
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, Leon. Welcome to the forum.

    The sentence you quoted seems a little strange to me because "perilous" is used instead of the normal "perilously" in the expression "perilously close to fear." That expression should mean "very close to fear." This is a way of saying that the nervous tension was very similar to the emotion that is called "fear."
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    that came perilous close to fear.
    Post #2 explains the correct use ("perilously close") and its meaning.

    I think the narrator (the voice of the author, in the book) used "perilous close" instead of "perilously close" in order to "sound ancient". The book takes place in ancient times (and in an imaginary place). Many of the characters will use "ancient-sounding" English.
     
    It's Southern dialect, and still alive, though I agree here with doji that the author is trying for an 'ancient' sound.

    Shooting Elvis
    - Page 207 - Google Books Result



    Robert Eversz - 1997 - ‎Fiction
    Pop said, "Goddamn it, of course I meant it. Don't you tell me what I mean or not." I came perilous close to shooting him then.

    =====

    Please help!!! - Talk About Marriage

    I came perilous close to a mental breakdown when I discovered a video of my ex-wife and the OM having sex.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's always useful to have some context Leon. Who is the person saying this, for example. Now I'm sure I'm not the only person on earth who is not familiar with The Game of Thrones, but it does feel like it.
    I can imagine this use of perilous, adjective form, as an adverb to an adjective in dialect, regional or colloquial speech.
     
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