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Of a different piece

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 12, 2008 at 15:44

In Reply to: Of a different piece posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 12, 2008 at 10:28:

: : : I have seen the phrase "of a different piece" used to compare two related but differnt ideas. For example:
: : : "Candidate X's criticism of the financial bailout was of a different piece. Unlike Candidate Z, who opposes the bailout because it does not put enough money into the system, Candidate X opposes the plan because it is provides too much to those who do not need it."
: : : Questions: is this a correct use of the phrase "of a differnt piece" and does anyone have any widely published examples of this usage?
: : :
: : I'm too lazy to hunt down examples of this usage, but it is, or was, not uncommon. Another way of putting it might be, X's criticism of the bailout was of a different piece from that of Y.
: : SS

: I've never heard "of a different piece"; but I presume that it must be a reversal of a much older and commoner phrase, "(all) of a piece". This is a metaphor from cloth; two garments made from the same piece of cloth are necessarily of identical texture and colour, and will wear and fade similarly. So things that are "of a piece" are alike and consistent with each other. (VSD)

♪ That's how I understand it as well. "All of a piece" is more common, as you suggest. A tendentious example might be, "His suggestion that Obama is possibly a Muslim, pals around with terrorists (having sat in the same room as an American named Ayers), and is not really an American (because he was born in Hawaii, not a state when McCain was born, but not exactly foreign soil either, since Hawaii had been a U.S. Territory since 1898) are all of a piece." Perhaps that sentence is uncomfortably long, but it does illustrate the idiom.

While we're dealing with cloth, we might say that some Democratic politicians think that many of McCain's claims are made out of whole cloth. Some of them also think that McCain and Palin are cut from the same cloth, inasmuch as they share a platform of taboos (no abortion, no gay marriage, no taxes on the rich, no regulation of guns, no regulation of business, no realistic sex education, no concessions to environmentalists, no recognition of global warming), and also share a history of being found in court to have used their public positions for private ends (Troopergate and the Savings and loan scandal).

I'm a bit sorry to find all my examples in American politics, but that's what comes easily to mind. My imagination is severely constrained.
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