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Moreover, as museums and universities drew further apart toward the end of the nineteenth century, and as the idea of objects as a privileged route to knowing the world went into decline, collecting began to lose its status as a worthy intellectual pursuit, especially in the sciences. The really interesting and important aspects of science were increasingly those invisible to the naked eye, and the classification of things collected no longer promised to produce cutting-edge knowledge (Conn 1998). The term “butterfly collecting” could come to be used with the adjective “mere” to indicate a pursuit of secondary academic status.

Reference


I'm having trouble understanding "could come to be".

I'd like to know what "could come to be" literally means.

I'd like to know if "could" is used to indicate that something was typically the case.

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The could in could come to be introduces a possibility. "Come to" is more standard and is just a way of saying become (will end up as or "turn out to be").

A explanatory way of writing this might be

"Butterfly Collecting" may possibly become, just butterfly collecting, an activity of a lesser importance.


become; verb; to start to be: Ref C.E.D.

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