With the earth cut away from his feet, oliver resumed his aimless drift along the continent.

In this sentence, I understand the last clause. But not the first.

The translator said it is "Lose foothold", but I don't understand what it means.

What does "cut away from his feet" mean? Is it a phrase or slang?

  • More context would help/ What was happening just before the events in the quote?
    – mdewey
    Dec 17, 2020 at 15:19
  • Did you copy the sentence perfectly? There are errors in it. Did the original author write this or did a translator? Dec 17, 2020 at 17:25
  • @chasly-supportsMonica thank you for youre question! but unfortunately, my book just give me that sentence. thats why i ask here. i thought it`s natural phrase or expresstion Dec 18, 2020 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


It means Oliver's plans were spoilt.

Cut the ground from under someone’s feet— to spoil someone’s plans or achievements by doing something better than them or by doing it before them

Macmillan Dictionary

In the novel, Oliver's life was full of hope as he owned a store and got married. However, things took a turn for the worse as his wife died following his bankruptcy. Oliver was hopeless again and aimlessly wandered the continent.

Though the expression "cut the ground from under (one's) feet" usually needs a competitor to spoil the plans; here, nature was the sole causative agent. Thus, the author used his artistic licence to put a twist on the expression.

  • @niamubengali thank you for you`re answer! Dec 18, 2020 at 10:33
  • @heisgg-tjsh You are very much welcome. Please accept the answer if you want to. Dec 18, 2020 at 10:39

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