I’m a big fan of P.G. Wodehouse, his novels have a very different way of humoring the readers and the narrative style is almost awesome. But his vocabulary and especially the conversational part of his books are quite uneasy to comprehend. It could be because he used many colloquial phrases of UK and his way of writing was very much English in its whole sense.

His opening lines are have strange adjectives and they always pose problems for me. I was reading Thank You, Jeeves and the very first line of the book is:

I was shade perturbed. Nothing to signify, really, but still just a spot concerned.

Now, the meaning of "perturbed", the one suitable here, is “Thrown into a state of agitated confusion”, okay so far but what does “shade perturbed” mean? "Shade" means relative darkness or some allusion to ghosts. And same matter is with “spot concerned”. Are these phrases common in the UK?

  • This question belongs on English Language Learners as there's nothing specifically literary about the usage here. It's a straightforward use of the meanings of those words. – verbose Feb 14 at 2:23

Both "shade" and "spot" mean "a little bit" here

Note: you appear to have quoted the passage slightly incorrectly here. This Goodreads preview has the opening lines as:

I was a shade perturbed. Nothing to signify, really, but still just a spot concerned

This sentence is using colliquial meanings of "shade" and "spot". For "shade", I'll quote Dictionary.com, definition 14:

a little bit; touch, especially of something that may change the color of or lighten or darken something else

Being "perturbed" is a metaphorical darkening of one's mood. Using this defintion, "a shade perturbed" means "a little bit perturbed". (I'm not sure if the colliquial sense would still work without the "a") Some more synonyms would be "slightly pertubed" or "a touch perturbed".

For "spot", I'll quote Merriam-Webster, defintion 4:

a small quantity or amount

Being "a spot concerned", then, is being "a little concerned". Again, some synonyms would be "slightly concerned" or "a touch concerned".

Bringing this all together, here's the opening lines with English that may be more familiar to you.

I was slightly troubled. Nothing important, really, but still just a little concerned.

(I replaced "pertubed" and "to signify" as well, just to make the English a bit easier) I'm not sure if these are British-isms, but they made perfect sense to me, an American with English as her first language.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.