"as if X had just come out from under a featherbed"

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Mon May 22 13:10:32 UTC 2006

Larry forwards the inquiry

What in the world is the meaning of  [they] talked as if they had
just come out from under a featherbed?

(I thought the term meant 'a feather-stuffed quilt', but M-W Online says
 1 : a feather mattress
 2 : a bed having a feather mattress
Doesn't affect the effect.)

The simile probably means "as if they were unaware of anything that had
happened in the past [choose your interval]".

Here's a WAG: He means that these people, willing to talk to a member of the
occupying forces, were either

 (a) eager for news, or
 (b) unaware that he was an occupier, or
 (c) unaware of the war.

(C) is impossible as a factual statement but would fit his description.
("Huh. You'd think these folks had been under a featherbed for years and
only saw me as a visiting sailor.") So would (a) or even (b), but ISTM that
(c) fits best, combined with (a) either as part of the simile or at least as
part of the explanation for their behavior.

m a m

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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