I'm having trouble understanding of this passage from The Ferryman (Jez Butterworth) What is the meaning of:"been up half the night lying in wait for her"?

UNCLE PAT. She’s been up half the night lying in wait for her. Honing her Battle Plan. I swear to God, sometimes I think the only thing keeping her alive is her hatred for that woman. You watch. Soon as Mrs T starts up, Pat’ll be out of that chair screaming till she’s blue in the bake, and hopefully, she’ll have a massive coronary and drop stone dead on the flagstones there. Let’s face it, it’s how she’d want to go. Me, I don’t care how she goes, just as long as she bloody well does.

  • Can you give some more details on what sort of trouble you are having . Is it "be up half the night" or "lying in wait", and why is that a problem. There's other phrases here that look harder to understand ("blue in the bake" for example)
    – James K
    Jun 20, 2020 at 20:02
  • @James K I forgot to mention "blue in the bake" but I don't understand that he is saying that his sister had been awake half the night for listening to Mrs. T speech or there is a kind of metaphor that I can't get it?
    – user103409
    Jun 20, 2020 at 20:12
  • "blue in the bake" seems the same as the similar expression "blue in the face" = Exhausted from a great effort, thus deprived of oxygen and turning blue Jun 20, 2020 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


From Merriam-Webster's definition of lying in wait:

: holding oneself in a concealed position to watch and wait for a victim for the purpose of making an unexpected attack and murdering or inflicting bodily injury on the victim

In the case of the passage in the question, I suspect it's something more metaphorical than an actual attack, but it's certainly at least some kind of verbal confrontation that's been planned. (Which is why the next sentence talks about honing her Battle Plan.)

As for up half the night, that's just the normal meaning of the phrase. She has not been asleep, but has kept herself awake.

In short, she's kept herself awake, waiting for the other person to either get home or do something else in particular—at which point, she will confront her.


"been up half the night lying in wait" implies the person has remained awake for most of the night (let's assume it is now well past midnight) waiting for the arrival (the return home?) of another person (a family member who lives at that address?). It seems they want to confront that person about some matter.

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