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Meaning of the phrase "How long is a piece of string?"

Posted by Bob on July 26, 2000

In Reply to: Meaning of the phrase "How long is a piece of string?" posted by Barney on July 24, 2000

: : Hello,

: : Can you please tell me the meaning of the phrase "How long is a piece of string?" when put into context of the question "How much do you miss me?"

: : Thank you so much.

: : Patricia

: Intrinsically a piece of string has length but that length is unknown hence the
: the phrase 'how long is a piece of string' means that the quantitative answer is not known and there is an implicate understanding that the answer will be difficult to find given the information available.

When asked by a client to estimate the costs of a project still in the earliest stages, one alternate to this phrase is "how much does a vacation cost?" (That's "holiday" to you Brits.) It embodies the same sense of indeterminate quantity.