phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

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

Posted by Barney on July 26, 2000

In Reply to: Meaning of the phrase "How long is a piece of string?" posted by Bob on July 26, 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.

Don't worry too much about the Brits we have a fair grasp of the vagaries of the language and aren't stumped by a little word like vacation: no sir.