Reading an old story, I am trying to figure out the meaning of "air"in the following sentence:

But ‘mother’ listened the whole time—not to me. Her thoughts were all elsewhere. And her air of intently, secretly listening, bordered, I felt, upon the uncanny.

I read the dictionary entries but still cannot really understand the meaning in this context. What would be the best re-phrasing?

1 Answer 1


The air here means manner. If you remove all the secondary members of the sentence, it will turn from:

And her air of listening, bordered upon the uncanny.


And her manner of listening, bordered upon the uncanny.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/air (noun, 6)

the peculiar look, appearance, and bearing of a person

  • Thank you. One clarification, if you do not mind - what does the "uncanny" relate to? The manner of listening, or listening itself? It does not make much sense in either case :(
    – John V
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 11:07
  • It is related to the manner, like And her manner, it was so mysterious, almost (bordered upon) uncanny. @JohnV Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 11:19

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