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Compared with to-day that was, upon the surface at any rate, an age of easy-going safety and good humour.

The New World Order by H.G. Wells

I used to hear the word "easy-going" about people who are easy to deal with. According to Cambridge Dictionary "easy-going" means relaxed and not easily upset or worried

But what is easy-going safety? Does it mean that this was an king of safety which was not easy to disturb?

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  • Just focus on the 'relaxed'. The age was safe so people were relaxed and did not perceive any looming dangers. Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 17:48
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    An "easy-going" society is a "laissez-faire" society. Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 18:20

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I haven't read the book so maybe the context would change my interpretation. But from your excerpt, I'd take the phrase to mean that people in general were, to use the definition you quote, relaxed and not easily worried about safety. The society was generally safe, so people didn't obsess over it.

One could imagine a society where people don't care about safety. They accept danger as a part of life, and when someone does something dangerous, it's just "oh well, life is dangerous".

One could imagine a society where people are obsessed about safety. There are long books of rules about how to keep safe. People are scrupulous about what they eat to make sure it won't harm them. They worry about the possibility of dangerous chemicals being in any product they use. Etc. (Sort of like 21st century America, I'd say.)

And one could imagine a society in the middle. A society that is generally safe, and where people are so relaxed in this safety that they just don't worry about it. Or where they accept small dangers as unavoidable, that some dangers are so small that protecting yourself from them is not worth the effort. I'd call that a society with "easy-going safety".

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This is a case of hypallage, a literary device where an adjective is used to describe something other than the noun it modifies. In this case, the word "easy-going" describes, not the "safety" itself, but the people who live in the "age of safety."

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