What is the meaning of “give or take the odd blip” here? I know that “give or take” means “more or less”, and I know that “blip” means “a little bit”, but I doin’t get what they mean together.

Almost every year since records began, our species has had more energy at its disposal than it had the year before. For the past 50 years, the growth rate has averaged 2.4% per year, more than tripling in total over that time. For the century before that it was more like 1% per year, and as we go back through history, the growth rate looks lower still but neverthe- less positive, give or take the odd blip.

1 Answer 1


The definition of blip is "an unexpected, minor, and typically temporary deviation from a general trend." Give or take means that the general statement is an approximation and "the odd" means "a few"

So the amount of energy available to humans has increased (this is the general trend) apart from some unexpected, minor, and typically temporary deviations from this increasing trend.

|       /
|      /
|     /
|  /\/
| /   a blip 

(Etymology is from the sound made by a blip in an electrical signal, especially a radar signal. It makes a sort of electrical beep or blip sound)

  • So I was wrong about the meaning of “give or take”. It actually means “apart from”. And it means “apart from a few exceptions”. Right?
    – Sasan
    Mar 29, 2021 at 10:19
  • Yes that's right. It means that something is an approximation (ie more or less) but the exceptions are .... So it means "apart from these exceptions"
    – James K
    Mar 29, 2021 at 10:22
  • @Sasan think of "give or take" as usually meaning "plus or minus." For example "The graduating class at Springdale High School is usually 100 students, give or take a few" means there are around 100 graduates each year—perhaps 90, perhaps 110, but about 100. In the context of your quote the meaning has been stretched somewhat to mean "except for," as James excellently demonstrated in the graph.
    – randomhead
    Mar 29, 2021 at 15:30

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