Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 28, 2006
In Reply to: Up, down and side posted by Smokey Stover on April 28, 2006
: : : Up, down and side
: : : "Everything he does is completely straight up and down.
: : : There is absolutely no side to him."
: : : What does these two sentences mean?
: : You will often hear someone say something about following "the straight and narrow path". This means that someone is obeying all the rules, not taking any risks and staying safe.
: : If someone goes side to side then that person is going over the line and taking a risk to explore the unknown or unfamiliar.
: : So if someone "has no side to him" then that person does not take any risks and is quite the conformist.
: This appears not to be a "saying" or catch-phrase, so I'm going to explain it my way, as though I had said it. I think it means that the individual in question is completely straightforward and open. He doesn't have a "side," by which I don't mean that he doesn't choose sides, but rather that what you see is what he is. It's all out there, there's no hidden side to him. I could be wrong, but there wasn't much context given. SS
Whoa there, Bruce and Smokey!
In British usage, the first sentence means "everything he does is completely direct and open".
"no side to him" contains a traditional meaning of "side" which perhaps has either never been used in the USA or is obsolete there. In Britain it means "pretentiousness, assumption of superiority, snooty behaviour". Somebody who "puts on side" behaves as though he thinks he's superior to everyone else; if somebody "has no side to him", he's the opposite. You would use it of somebody whom might be expected to behave in a pretentious way, but doesn't.