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The Oxford dict. defines thus as "in the manner now being indicated or exemplified; in this way." as its second meaning. The example used in the dict. is "she phoned Susan, and while she was thus engaged, Charles summoned the doctor".

I don't understand this example. Could you explain me "thus" based on this example? More examples are welcome.

  • 2
    = and while she was engaged in phoning, Charles summoned the doctor. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 8 '13 at 2:38
  • (Mentally) substitute "so" for all intents and purposes. – Ingmar Dec 8 '13 at 17:39
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"Thus" simply means "in {this|that} manner", or "to {this|that} extent", which makes it practically a synonym for the word "so".

When the word "manner" refers to certain types of verbs used in a passive sense, then it doesn't refer to a "style", but only to a choice of activity. With those same verbs, the words "so", "thus" and "in that manner" simply mean "by doing that".

The verbs in this category, in their passive form, are not actions, but references to other actions: they indicate that some action is ongoing, or a that there is a change in action. Examples are: to be occupied, to be engaged, to be distracted, and various others.

We cannot ask, "in what style were you distracted", because to be distracted is not an activity itself; the passive verb indicates that your existing activity or focus is disrupted, and the "manner" refers to the specific cause of the distraction. "In what manner were you distracted" is correct and it means "what was the specific cause of your distraction".

Other words which mean "in that manner", like "thus" and "so", inherit from this.

So:

She phoned Susan, and while she was thus engaged, Charles summoned the doctor.

= She phoned Susan, and while she was engaged by doing that (= by phoning Susan), Charles summoned the doctor.

This sentence uses "manner" in the two senses, which makes it a play on words:

He played the piano in a care-free manner, and in that manner he occupied many of his evenings.

The second "that manner" doesn't refer to the "fine manner"; it just means that the man's choice of activity for many of his evenings was to play the piano (and he liked to do that in a manner which was care-free).

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This meaning of thus is archaic and is similar to therein. The example can be reworded as, "She phoned Susan, and while she was engaged in phoning Susan, Charles summoned the doctor." In your quoted example, thus referred back to what Susan was doing in the preceding clause. The example can be a little confusing because it is overly complicated.

Another example: A fisherman might say, "I fish every day, and thus make my living." This means that the fisherman makes his living by fishing every day. More explicitly, he could reword this as, "I fish every day. I make my living in the manner just indicated," or "I fish every day. I make my living thus."

  • I suspect that the example is overly complicated because it may be sarcastic. Sarcastic language sometimes uses archaic forms to make it point. I'm thinking of this angle: she was making a useless call to Susan, while Charles took meaningful action and called a doctor. – Kaz Dec 9 '13 at 5:56

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