Posted by R. Berg on March 11, 2003
In Reply to: Help! posted by piggy on March 11, 2003
: I was minding my own business a few weeks ago when I got "the call" - that dreaded, shrill ringing of my telephone bearing news just short of a death in the family.
: what is short of a death?
I'm assuming that the first sentence you posted is something you read. You are mentally breaking the sentence into parts at different points than the writer intended. The sentence goes like this: ". . . ringing of my telephone . . . bearing news . . . just short of . . . a death in the family."
What kind of news did the phone call bear (bring)? Bad news. News as bad as news of a death in the family? No, not as bad as that, but almost as bad. The news was just short of that kind of news.
"Just short of" means "a little bit less than." 99 is just short of 100.