Posted by Smokey Stover on May 25, 2004
In Reply to: Too cute by half posted by Fred on May 23, 2004
: Why 'half'? Wouldn't 'two' make more sense?
Figurative language is not necessarily supposed to be the language that makes most sense. Too cute by half means, I assume, half again as cute as needed just to be cute. The Romans had a word for "half again," namely, sesquialtera. This means one-and-a-half times whatever is being described. Actually, "too cute by half" has the virtue of economy of words. "Twice as cute as needed" takes at least one more word, and is less explicit in meaning. SS