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Letting the cats out of the bag

Posted by Lewis on October 27, 2005

In Reply to: Cast adrift posted by ESC on October 26, 2005

: : : : What does "cast adrift" mean, in terms of "somebody cast adrift into the world of mysticism". I've been checking out the definitions of "cast" some are okay, some don't work at all, and I was wondering if there was something better.

: : : It's a nautical thing. Cast as in cause to move forward by tossing or throwing.

: : : says "cast off" is - To let go.

: : : Adrift (Merriam-Webster):

: : : Main Entry: adrift
: : : Pronunciation: &-'drift
: : : Function: adverb or adjective
: : : 1 : without motive power and without anchor or mooring
: : : 2 : without ties, guidance, or security
: : : 3 : free from restraint or support

: : I live on an island, a big and long island.
: : Seems everyone but I has a boat.

: : If you are on a boat and you are "cast adrift" you are usually without an anchor and you are in a lot of trouble because the wind and weather will give you a mighty beating.

: What a sweet picture. I think. How will they ever get ashore?

'adrift' is another of those slightly obscure verb forms that we use less these days - if somebody had written "they be cast a-drifting" or otherwise separated the a- from the body of the word, it would be clearer. to go a- something was commonplace - e.g. to go "a-walking" on a midsummer day would not seem out of place in a folk-song. some examples of the prefix a- have become embedded - like "adrift" - and virtually nobody thinks about it being a truncated verb form. I'm sure somebody on here knows the correct expression for such a mutation from verb to whatever(?).