Our little hero had some difficulty in lifting the burden upon his back; but he at last succeeded in getting it placed to his mind.

This is from a English fairy tale "The history of Tom Thumb" http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/eft/eft26.htm. What's the meaning of "mind" in this sentence? I think he can't place a burden to his mind because mind is sprite.

  • I think it means he used his brain and figured out a way to solve the problem. It's very close to the expression get your mind right. – Yuri Mar 12 '17 at 17:28
  • Thank you for your comment. Is this a phrase in common usage? – Yuuichi Tam Mar 12 '17 at 17:34
  • @YuuichiTam It's a most unusual construction and does not sound at all idiomatic. The meaning is unclear. It might mean to his satisfaction or coming to terms with it. Can you tell us more about the source? – Ronald Sole Mar 12 '17 at 18:10
  • Yes, I added the source in my question. – Yuuichi Tam Mar 12 '17 at 18:41

Nowadays to his mind usually means in his opinion. But in older English one's mind often meant one's wish, liking, disposition (in fact we still use it in that sense in I have (it) in mind to do such-and-such), especially in colloquial and dialect use. The English Dialect Dictionary gives a number of citations from the end of the 19th century, when the folktale collector John Jacobs published this version of the story. Jacobs edited the heaviest dialogue out of his versions, but left a good deal of it in for flavour.

I think this is in fact a dialect use, and that the meaning is that Tom succeeded in getting the burden settled to his satisfaction—that is, he found a reasonably comfortable way of carrying it.


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