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Thread: рукой подать

  1. #1
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    рукой подать

    I came across the set phrase рукой подать, which is translated "it is but a step (from), it's a stone's throw (from)", meaning a certain place is very close by.

    I really want to see what each word means, so as to understand why the phrase has got its meaning:

    I think рукой = by hand
    But which meaning is for подать?
    подавать

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonlon View Post
    But which meaning is for подать?
    подавать
    I don't think the logic of this idiom can be explaned via the modern meanings of the words. In general, подать is «to give or move something to some person on his/her request or demand», and I see no reason why that verb is used here.
    If we constructed such phrase in the modern language, it should be рукой достать - "can be reached with hand", but we don't say so.
    Soft sign likes this.

  3. #3
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    a speculation could be: It's so close that you can reach it with hand. The expression is too told to trace its etimology. And it's fixed and can't be changed. Here you can't say подавать, only подать.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedFox View Post
    In general, подать is «to give or move something to some person on his/her request or demand», and I see no reason why that verb is used here.
    Then you Russians use the phrase anyway but in fact just don't know what подать means?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wonlon View Post
    Then you Russians use the phrase anyway but in fact just don't know what подать means?
    The verb «подать» for a single action (as a form of «подавать» for repeated actions) means “to hand in”, “to give” or “to pass”, of which “to pass” seems to me the closest equivalent in meaning. Compare: “Could you pass me the salt?” – «Можете (не могли бы Вы) подать мне соль?»
    Since we can “hand in / give / pass” smth through somebody else, or by post, or in any other way from rather a distant place, the idiom includes the adverbial modifier of manner «рукой» (“with one’s hand / by hand”) to show the maximum proximity.
    Lampada likes this.

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