Ruby Chen
"He was not a little tired." what does it mean? tired or untired?
Aug 3, 2014 9:43 AM
Answers · 7
I agree with Ben: it means he was very tired. The "not" reverses "a little"... therefore, "very". You'll see this negated form used in order to convey the meaning indirectly. "That was a stupid thing to say." (direct) - "That wasn't a very intelligent thing to say." (indirect)
August 3, 2014
It means "He is very tired." "Not a little" means "very; very much; a great deal of". It is standard usage and perfectly correct grammar.
August 3, 2014
Hi Ruby, Its actually not good grammar..and really depends on the context. But it would usually be a way of emphasizing that he WAS tired!
August 3, 2014
We need more information. It sounds like the person "was not even a little tired" meaning they were wide awake It is possible that they could say "He was not a little tired, but very tired!" However they would probably make it more obvious if that were the case. (I'm guessing it means they were wide awake) Hope this helped!
August 3, 2014
Here is the link to the relevant entry in the Oxford Dictionary, which may be of interest to some members here: On that page there is also a link to the American dictionary, which gives the same explanation.
August 3, 2014
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