The original sentence:

This tradition of guaranteeing anonymity began to develop quickly, although it was not until later that it was carried to the extreme of denying all knowledge of any individuals who were in its ranks and of refusing point blank to answer questions or to allow any outside contact with the legionnaires.

Three questions:

  1. Does "point blank" modify "refusing", meaning directly?

  2. Is "of refusing..." parallel to "of denying..."?

  3. Is "to allow...” parallel to "to answer..."?

1 Answer 1


The meaning here comes from the phrase point-blank range which, in common usage, refers to a gun or other projectile weapon being held very close to its target. "To refuse point blank" is a metaphorical allusion to being threatened, as in to refuse even in the face of strong pressure or threat. It also suggests very strong and definite refusal. The meaning is metaphorical only and there need not be any actual weapon or threat involved.

As to the three questions then... "yes" to all!

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