Reply to "very much a..."

kuen posted:

I have some more questions as follows:

1. Do you mean that 'very much' doesn't mean "he truly is a loner," or "The category of loner completely fits him"?

Hi, Kuen,

Yes, that is what I mean. "Very much" is an intensifier, indicating that something possesses a predicate in a high degree. "Out-and-out" is not an intensifier; it says merely that something is unquestionably a member of a category.

kuen posted:
2. Is 'out-and-out' only used in a negative way?

Basically, yes: "out-and-out" is used with predicates that have a negative connotation. I recommend searching a corpus for "out-and-out," such as the Corpus of Contemporary American English; you'll find a host of such examples:

  • "out-and-out stolen"
  • "out-and-out drunk"
  • "out-and-out lies"
  • "an out-and-out plan of extortion"
kuen posted:
3. When you describe someone is a loner, Doesn't it mean he or she is truly a loner?

Yes, Kuen. As Gertude Stein wrote, "A rose is a rose is a rose." Thus, to understand why people use "out-and-out," you need to go beyond the literal meaning to its use. It highlights a thing's membership in a negative category.

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