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I've heard this phrase in a podcast called "Tigerbelly" One of the podcasters said that "his girlfriend could be sitting 3 seats over and still smell his feet"

I tough it might mean "on the other side of " as in this def

On the other side of: a village over the border. (source freedictionary.com)

I though he meant she was 3 seats away but on the other side of the aisle, as on a plane or bus.

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    Did you mean 'smell his feet'? Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:34
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    "3 seats over" just means "three seats away", doesn't have to be on the other side of an aisle. See Merriam-Webster Dictionary meaning 1- i. In this case the "intervening space" is the space between the two seats (regardless if it actually is a physical space or just a concept of a separation between seats)
    – Esther
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:35
  • Hmm, weird, I can't find a definition for "over" meaning "away" in any dictionary? Can anyone provide it? Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:41
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    "across; from one side or place to another" - Cambridge Dictionary "You can use over to indicate a particular position or place a short distance away from someone or something." - Collins Dictionary Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:57
  • @MichaelHarvey But I think you'd agree that in the UK "three seats away" would be far more common than "three seats over". I'm wondering if the latter is more American - as someone has quoted Merriam Webster.
    – WS2
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 8:17

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This is OED sense III.6.d for "over, adv. and int.":

Further away in the same direction, within a sequence of specified items (as blocks of buildings, etc.).

Here 'over' is an adverb modifying 'sitting.' "She is three seats over" = "she is sitting at a distance of three seats from [whatever the contextual reference point is]."

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  • Not an expression you hear much in Britain - more likely "three seats away". Did the OED mark it as "US"?
    – WS2
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 8:20
  • Yes, this sense is marked "originally US." It does seem more common in the US but I've heard it in the UK as well.
    – George K.
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 13:27

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