In an episode of Inspector Lynley, he and Havers went to his family's estate, which she called a "pile." Then he told her not to use that word.

Okay, I'm American and have never lived in England (though I visited there), so I don't get what "pile" means. Plus, I don't even quite understand if what she was saying was rude, thus if he was letting her know that it was offensive.

According to my edition of the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, pile is "a lofty or large building or mass of buildings: the noble pile of Windsor Castle."

Sounds harmless to me. But maybe in modern British English, it has negative connotations.


Anonymous said...

I think it does have negative connotations these days. We're a meritocratic society now, after all. It's a shame there isn't an HTML tag for sarcasm...

Anonymous said...

You mean you want to be sarcastic about "meritocratic" society cuz it's not really that way?

Anonymous said...

Did I ever tell you about the student who handed in the following sentence:

Le lendemain, après la tempête, j'ai regardé par la fenêtre, où il y avait des hemorrhoïdes de neige.

I, of course, immediately burst out laughing.

Obviously someone wasn't paying attention to the mention (med) under one of the many definitions of 'piles'!

Anonymous said...

55! I was going to mention the other meaning for "piles"--I didn't know it existed until I saw the word on a bottle of Chinese herbal medicine for such an ailment.