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to within an inch of their lives

English translation: read them extremely thoroughly

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20:10 Apr 5, 2007
English to English translations [PRO]
Poetry & Literature / phrase
English term or phrase: to within an inch of their lives
By the time the third film had come and gone, they had re-read the books to within an inch of their lives. (The Lord of the Rings - but that's not the point here)
Palko Agi
Local time: 04:29
English translation:read them extremely thoroughly
Explanation:
Usually, someone is "beaten to within an inch of his life" but I guess this is poetic license.

I would understand this to mean that they had almost memorized the book.
Selected response from:

jccantrell
United States
Local time: 19:29
Grading comment
Thank you all, I understand this was a bit controversial, perhaps the author did not use the phrase in a very clever way... anyway, this explanation fits the tex the most.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
3 +6read them extremely thoroughly
jccantrell
4 +3almost to the point of no return
David Hollywood
3 +2the books are in such bad shape, they are almost deadRHELLER
4to the point of remembering living them
Ramon Somoza


  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +6
read them extremely thoroughly


Explanation:
Usually, someone is "beaten to within an inch of his life" but I guess this is poetic license.

I would understand this to mean that they had almost memorized the book.

jccantrell
United States
Local time: 19:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 40
Grading comment
Thank you all, I understand this was a bit controversial, perhaps the author did not use the phrase in a very clever way... anyway, this explanation fits the tex the most.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Melanie Nassar
1 hr

agree  KathyT
2 hrs

agree  Refugio
7 hrs

agree  conejo
8 hrs

agree  David Knowles: It's a very odd phrase in this context, but I think this is the most natural meaning. The other versions seem less likely, although the books probably would be falling apart!
12 hrs

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
3 days21 hrs
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2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
almost to the point of no return


Explanation:
I would say ....

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Note added at 3 mins (2007-04-05 20:13:43 GMT)
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until they couldn't keep an eye open ...

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Note added at 4 mins (2007-04-05 20:14:36 GMT)
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I think it means until they were almost whopped/exhausted


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Note added at 5 mins (2007-04-05 20:15:32 GMT)
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they couldn't keep an eye open but on they went ....

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Note added at 19 mins (2007-04-05 20:29:31 GMT)
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there are so many interpretations that we really need more context ...

David Hollywood
Local time: 23:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 110

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger: Exhausted is the key word, I think. An example of extreme hyperbole. Re-read it until they were completely exhausted.
41 mins

agree  Alexander Demyanov: Couldn't keep an eye open/Exhausted themselves by the reading... "Point of no return" though doesn't ring right to me
51 mins

agree  Vicky Papaprodromou
5 hrs

neutral  Refugio: What would be the point of no return in reading??
7 hrs
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23 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
to the point of remembering living them


Explanation:
IMHO, they read the books so much that the memory of those stories was almost intertwined with the memories of their own lives...

Ramon Somoza
Spain
Local time: 04:29
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Kim Metzger: Don't think so, Ramon. "within an inch of their lives" means close to death http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/51/messages/568.htm...
23 mins

neutral  Richard Benham: I agree with Kim. It is not clear whether it is the books or the readers that are nearly killed by this process, but it is one or the other....
12 hrs
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
the books are in such bad shape, they are almost dead


Explanation:
not sure
but it could refer to the books rather than the people

RHELLER
United States
Local time: 20:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 66

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  KathyT: yes, the books may have been read and re-read so many times that they are practically falling apart...
15 mins
  -> thanks, KathyT !

agree  David Caswell: I agree with the sense of the books falling apart
1 day2 hrs
  -> thanks, David :-)
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