This context comes from a Wikipedia page "FBI files on Elvis Presley"

"The letter says that Elvis's "actions and motions were such as to arouse the sexual passions of teenaged youth."

I found a definition from the Longman Dictionary posted by someone on a different forum but it's no longer available on that website. This is the definition:

(such as to)

formal or literary used to give a reason or explanation for something:

His manner was such as to offend everyone who he met

It's difficult for me to transform this sample sentence and apply it to the one about Elvis.

Also, I thought it might be the phrase "such as" as in "In cases such as this (one), it's best to be cautious." with the preposition "to" but this phrase is always followed by the noun or pronoun which states what the subject of the sentence is similar to. Does the sentence in question have anything to do with this phrase?

  • 2
    Elvis's actions and motions were of a type which aroused the sexual passions of teenaged youth. Such things = things like that, things of that type. Note that as to there is the same as in, for example, Do it like this, so as to get a good result. Apr 14, 2023 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Yes, that is the right definition. The reason or explanation for the arousal of sexual passions among teenagers were the actions and motions of Elvis. In particular we know (from general knowledge) that Elvis rotated his hips as he danced and pouted as he sang - both actions are well known to arouse sexual passions...

There is a further implication. The use of the phrase suggests to that not only were the motions an explanation, but they were intended to arouse sexual passions. They caused and were meant to cause teenagers to become aroused.

This all seems very typical of 1950s prudery.

  • I'm not sure about the intention aspect of the sentence. I read it the same way as @FumbleFingers in his comment. No doubt the FBI thought it was all deliberate, but I don't see it in the actual syntax of this sentence. Sep 20, 2023 at 13:21

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