1. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20

    Draw the curtains

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rumwriter, Oct 27, 2011.

    I've been going back and forth with this phrase with a lot of people, and we are pretty evenly split:

    Does this mean to open or close the curtains? Or can it be either? Draw them open vs Draw them closed?
     
  2. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I reckon it can mean either. "Draw" in this context means roughly the same as "pull", and doesn't say which way to pull them (which would usually be easily inferred from context).
     
  3. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    It can be either one.
     
  4. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (I found this on a website I'm unfamiliar with, so I can't directly vouch for the validity of the citation):
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    however, in common usage [speech/dialog], it most often means to close them... such as in:

    He drew the curtains, not wanting to be seen from the street.

    "Quick, draw the curtains, Jefferey!"

    The curtains were drawn when they entered the room, the corpse lying in a puddle of light from the single lamp.

    ...and so on...
     
  6. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    I think it comes from an old word which means just 'pull', but I'd use 'draw back' to mean open, and 'draw' to mean close.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i agree about 'draw back' mad...
     
  8. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    If it were ambiguous then I'd use "draw back the curtains" for open, too, but I'd use "draw the curtains to" for close (but I suspect that that's a regional British idiom).
     
  9. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    Well, if it's ambiguous, and you have a hard time making "draw" unambiguous, simplifying to "open" or "close" might be the best option. Try to avoid ambiguous words that can't be resolved using context.
     
  10. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Thing is, if you're standing in the room it's not ambiguous because you can see the current state of the curtains. But your reader isn't standing in the room.
     

Share This Page