12

I fail to comprehend the part in bold. The Invisible Man, Wells:

He vanished behind a laburnum, and appeared again clambering a fence that abutted on the open down.

0

1 Answer 1

24

"Abutted" means the following:

(of a building or an area of land) be next to or have a common boundary with

So it means the fence is next to something.

The meaning of "open down" is:

An open down would be a green hill that had no fences. Some downs have been fenced - often with low stone walls, so sheep can graze on them. Wordreference

So it means the guy was clambering a fence that was next to a green hill.

Note that "abut" is also used often with the following:

to be adjacent; touch or join at the edge or border (often followed by "on", "upon", or "against"):

This piece of land abuts on a street. Dictionary

Hat tip to @James K:

"down" in this sense means hill, and is unrelated to the direction "down" (it is related to words like "dune"). It is quite specific to southern England in fact. Similar hills in the North are called "wolds"/"moors". "Down" is a word like "alp", used for the hills in a particular place, and not for hills in general.

10
  • 5
    It might be worth noting that "down" in this sense, meaning hill, is unrelated to the direction "down" (it is related to words like "dune"). It is quite specific to southern England. Similar hills in the North are called "wolds". "Down" is a word like "alp", used for the hills in a particular place, and not for hills in general.
    – James K
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 4:57
  • 4
    Hills in the Cotswolds (which are not in the North!) are also called wolds. Hills in the North (and the South-West) are also called Moors. Or Fells. Very occasionally, they are called Hills. Ignorant townsfolk might even call them Mountains. Commented May 19, 2022 at 10:22
  • 1
    @DarrelHoffman If so that probably comes from trying to copy Epsom Downs racecourse which is where the Derby and Oaks are run and are on the North Downs in England.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 15:50
  • 3
    wolds are hardly northern!
    – charmer
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 16:33
  • 2
    @JamesK As a Norfolk boy, born and bred, I hesitate to join an argument about what land contours are called and where. But the tiny insignificant ones we do have are called "hills" - Ringland hills - near Norwich. And the valleys are called "holes" - hence Belaugh "hills and holes" near Wroxham. It is good that Britain's land features have retained their local nomenclature. We are proud of our "broads", "staithes" and "marshes".
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 8:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .