young man barely clipping his early thirties


Senior Member

I have a question about the meaning of the following phrase - in bold:

"He was only a few years older since I'd seen him last, ..., still a fresh-faced young man barely clipping his early thirties."

(source: Claire North: The first fifteen lives of Harry August)

Thanks for any suggestions,

  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi Yuyka, this is a rather unusual use of the verb 'to clip' in this context. The meaning here isn't given in the WR dictionary, but it's this definition in the OALD used figuratively:
    3 [transitive] to hit the edge or side of something
    clip something: The car clipped the kerb as it turned.

    So the young man who, we're told, is "still fresh-faced", is 'barely touching the edge of his early thirties". His early thirties are the age 30, 31, 32, 33. He is hardly even that old, the author says. Maybe only just 30 or 31.