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"We prize most those which are hardest to come at."

In the above sentence, "come at" is translated to the meaning of "gain" in korean("얻다").

(That sentence is one of example sentences in English-korean dictionary in korean portal site.)

Do native English speakers understand "come at" like that too? I can't understand well how "come at" which consist of verb(come) and preposition(at) can mean "gain". And I also wonder if "come at" in that sentence is literary expression or antiquated expression.

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The sentence "We prize most those which are hardest to come at." is completely comprehensible and unambiguous, but I wouldn't call it correct; it may even be actively wrong. If it's not wrong, it's certainly antiquated.

"Come at" primarily means "launch at, so as to attack", per the Oxford English.

The phrase you probably want here is "come by", which means "Manage to acquire or obtain (something)" according to the same link.

The statement would more naturally be given as one of two different sentences:

  • "We prize most that which is hardest to come by." - if you mean "in general, the things which we prize most are the ones which it's hardest to get";
  • "We prize most those which are hardest to come by." - if you mean "of the things which I've already mentioned, the ones we prize most are the ones which it's hardest to get".
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  • I don't like 'those' alone (used before 'which') I would prefer 'those things', unless there is a preamble, e.g. 'Of the things that we could seek to accomplish, we prize those which are hardest to come at (=approach)'. Or, as Patrick suggests, 'obtain' ... 'come by'. I would place no such restriction on 'those who/whom' - those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Sep 28 '19 at 10:29
  • I would not say that 'come at' is particularly antiquated, at least in British usage - he came at me with a hammer; a hilltop fort is hard to come at without being seen. Sep 28 '19 at 10:31
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    @MichaelHarvey "Came at me with a hammer" is precisely the "attack" meaning I quoted; I agree that that meaning is not antiquated. Sep 28 '19 at 10:36
  • One can come at a problem in mathematics. Sep 28 '19 at 10:44
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    @MichaelHarvey Again, that's attacking a problem, in my experience. Sep 28 '19 at 10:46

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