I have difficulties understanding the following sentence:

Out of all of that, for some reason, my mind caught on that last bit. I’d never been called a mewling lapdog before. Had anyone outside of breathless fiction or social media?

The excerpt was taken from Backyard Starship Book 1 of J.N. Chaney and Terry Maggert.

See Website for more information.

Does it mean there are occurrences where he was called 'mewling lapdog' in social media?

Can anyone point the meaning and use of the phrase 'Had anyone outside'?

  • 1
    Please add the source of the quote. That is tell use the name of the book and author, and if possible link to the page containing these words.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 14:11
  • 1
    The bolded sentence is very awkward. It falls into the "last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas" category.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 14:29
  • @BillOnne garden path sentences, yeah, I agree. Starting a sentence with "had anyone outside" would mislead people into reading it wrong.
    – justhalf
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


You're not parsing that correctly. The phrase is not "Had anyone outside". It is "Had anyone - outside of breathless fiction..."

"Had" here is referring to "[had] been called a mewling lapdog". In other words, "had anyone ever been called that, except in fiction or social media?"

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