the last thing on my mind

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the last thing on my mind

Post by tony h » Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:31 am

I noticed whilst reading Wilkie Collins's Woman in White a change in meaning of a form of words. He regularly uses "that was the last thing she would do" or "it was the last thing he would think". In modern use this is meant as "there was nothing further from her mind/action". But Collins uses it as "the thought/action would be there still at the very end" ie it is the most important thought/action.

Any ideas as to when the change occuurred?
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

the last thing on my mind

Post by russcable » Wed Dec 13, 2006 4:56 pm

I don't see where you're getting that. Here are all the occurences of "last thing" in the story copied and pasted from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext96/wwhit10.txt:

Except in the event, then, of Mr. Frederick Fairlie's marrying and leaving an heir (the two very last things in the world that he was likely to do), his niece, Laura, would have the property on his death...

You want to upset me, to upset yourself, to upset Glyde, and to upset Laura; and--oh, dear me!--all for the sake of the very last thing in the world that is likely to happen.

The last thing at night my wife returned to Blackwater, having followed her instructions with the most unimpeachable accuracy.
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End of topic.
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