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to catch sb's heels

 
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Smee



Joined: 27 Feb 2003
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 2:08 am    Post subject: to catch sb's heels Reply with quote

Dear friends
Could anyone of you explain the meaning of the phrase "He made a point of catching Bertha's heels"? I think that "to catch sb's heels" is a kind of idiom I can't make out.
Thanks
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never heard of that. I have a guess, but it'd be better if you could give us a context.
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advoca



Joined: 09 Oct 2003
Posts: 422
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A heel is a despicable person.

There are many idioms using the word heel or heels:

Cool on's heels.
Dig in one's heels
Down at heel
Head over heels
Kick up one's heels
Lay by the heelsRock back on one's heelsShow a clean pair of heels,
Take to one's heels,
Well-heeled.

But I have never heard of the catching someone by the heels.
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Smee



Joined: 27 Feb 2003
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2003 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have taken the phrase from a story by Katherine Mansfield, a New Zealander-British writer called "Bliss".The complete paragraph is the following:

""Most likely it's a good stomach," answered Harry.
He made a point of catching Bertha's heels with replies of that kind..
"liver frozen, my dear girl" or "pure flatulence," or "kidney disease,".
.. and so on. For some strange reason Bertha liked this, and almost admired it in him very much"

I couldn't find this idiom in any diccionary I turned to. Mansfield was accused by the critics of her time of using a weird or not easy to understand language. Could this be an example of this fact?
Thank you friends
Jorge
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obelix



Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2003 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the context you've given it, I'd say it means to take Bertha by surprise.
Perhaps it's an idiom they use in New Zealand.
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2003 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I agree with Obelix.

Smee, if you like Mansfield (I've never read her), you might try reading something by E. Annie Proulx sometime. She also seems to have her own sense of the English language. I find her writing to be very interesting, but I've tried to get others to read her and most have not been very fond of her work.
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Smee



Joined: 27 Feb 2003
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obelix. You are right! I should have guessed the meaning which was ever there. It clearly shows that I am not as smart as I regard myself. (I’m sorry for the bad joke)
I have been involved in reading Mansfield just by chance in a series of readings of my English course. It drew powerfully my attention because through her work you can realized what she must have felt and suffered in her short life (she died 35). She was late acknowledged by her colleagues and New Zealander scholars though .
Bud. I have found an excellent page where there are writings by E. Annie Proulx (www.annieproulx.com). She lives in Wyoming and I think I will enjoy reading her. If I had some remarks about her work I would like discuss them with you. Do you agree?.
Thank you friends.
Jorge
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2003 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely, Smee. I'd love to discuss her with you.
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