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I came across this line in a movie which I understand but wouldn't be able to explain if someone asked me to. The phrase is used in many contexts but what does it mean here: "You're getting skinnier on me"? Please help, what's the alternative way of saying this? Can "on me" and "on my watch" be used interchangeably?

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  • That is not really a common phrase. I can find exactly one example of its use (a fairly obscure movie "The Hollow Point" from 2016) Which has, nevertheless, been picked up by some ESL sites as a phrase to be translated.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 7:40
  • @JamesK I hear that phrase often in friendly banter if it is 2 people who have not seen each other in a while. "You are getting _____ on me".
    – jim
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

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I don't think "on my watch" fits, quite.

In this sentence, "on me" means that I experience that you are getting skinny as something that affects me. It's slightly paternalistic, as if the person addressed had some duty to remain the same. It's not a harsh statement, and it may just be a bit playful.

Another example of the same use:

He didn't answer the email because his computer died on him.

That is, he experienced and was negatively affected by the computer's failure.

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  • The meaning is "on my watch," no? I agree that it wouldn't really be said like that though.
    – randomhead
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 10:33
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    No, because on my watch implies while I was officially responsible. You didn't tell us what the relationship between the characters in the film was, but on me doesn't have to mean a formal responsibility, just that the speaker was present and was personally affected. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 12:40
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"on me" is used for emphasis.

In friendly banter, "on me" is just a tag to emphasize that the speaker has perhaps noticed something about the other person -- in the example "skinnier". In the case of "skinnier" it might be a compliment for someone losing weight. Usually indicating that speaker has not seen the person in while.

A similar friendly phrase might be "you've grown up on me", indicating that the speaker has not seen the other person since some point in their childhood and the speaker is noting that the other person is now "grown up".

In sinister movies or television, a bad guy may say "you are not going to get all honest on me, are you?". Again, for emphasis. In this case, the speaker is threatening the other person if that person were to "get honest" and call the police or whatever.

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    Shakespeare used me in a similar manner: " Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table and says “God send me no need of thee” and, by the operation of the second cup, draws him on the drawer when indeed there is no need." - Romeo & Juliet, III, 1
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 20:27

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