(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XVI, published 1892)

Passage 249

“We've rather bad news for you, Mr. Dodd,” said Fowler. “Your firm's gone up.”

“Already!” I exclaimed.

“Well, it was thought rather a wonder Pinkerton held on as long as he did,” was the reply. “The wreck deal was too big for your credit; you were doing a big business, no doubt, but you were doing it on precious little capital; and when the strain came, you were bound to go. Pinkerton's . . .”

“Gentlemen,” said I, “you must excuse me. My friend, the captain here, will drink a glass of champagne with you to give you patience; but as for myself, I am unfit even for ordinary conversation till I have read these letters.”

They demurred a little: and indeed the danger of delay seemed obvious; but the sight of my distress, which I was unable entirely to control, appealed strongly to their good-nature; and I was suffered at last to get by myself on deck, where, by the light of a lantern smuggled under shelter of the low rail, I read the following wretched correspondence.

“My dear Loudon,” ran the first, “this will be handed you by your friend Speedy of the Catamount. His sterling character and loyal devotion to yourself pointed him out as the best man for our purposes in Honolulu—the parties on the spot being difficult to manipulate. A man called Billy Fowler (you must have heard of Billy) is the boss; he is in politics some, and squares the officers. I have hard times before me in the city, but I feel as bright as a dollar and as strong as John L. Sullivan. What with Mamie here, and my partner speeding over the seas, and the bonanza in the wreck, I feel like I could juggle with the Pyramids of Egypt, same as conjurers do with aluminium balls. . .

“Your true partner, “J. Pinkerton.”

Some is in end position like an emphasized adverb and I think it is an adverb, right? Is this usage of some common? What does it express there - does it emphasize the statement?

  • 2
    As usual, you're just turning up outdated usages. Some people might use a bit or somewhat in this way today, but not often. Maybe a credible alternative today might be he dabbles in politics, but even the overall social context has changed over the centuries. When they wrote it, the authors probably thought in terms of "entering politics" simply by announcing their interest in their London "gentlemen's club" (most of their fellow countrymen couldn't even vote back then, so it was just "jobs for the boys"). Nov 5, 2023 at 16:22
  • 1
    Oxford Languages gives: INFORMAL: NORTH AMERICAN. To some extent; quite a lot. Of course RLS was Scottish but his stepson Osbourne was American, as is the character. Nov 5, 2023 at 16:22
  • @Kate Bunting - I think that answers the question. Some is an adverb an it's American English usage. Yes, the character Jim Pinkerton is American as well (bully for you!)
    – philphil
    Nov 5, 2023 at 19:09
  • 2
    I've heard this usage in phrases like "Do you know how to play pinochle? -- I've played it some" or "I hear you're taking up pottery as a hobby. -- I've done it some" or "They tell me you've been all over the world. -- I've traveled some" or "You say you're from Hollywood. Have you been in any movies? -- I've been on TV some" but I've never heard anything like "He's in politics some" or "She's in theater some". Nov 6, 2023 at 1:13
  • 2
    This usage of 'some' is current, not archaic or obsolete, in some parts of the US. Nov 6, 2023 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


Some is an adverb there and Merriam-Webster has this (AE usage):

2 a : in some degree : SOMEWHAT

felt some better

b : to some degree or extent : a little

the cut bled some

I need to work on it some more

c —used as a mild intensive

that's going some

In this context 'some' means 'to some degree or extent' (= 2b)

  • 1
    And it can be much more than a "mild" intensive: "Man, that Acura NSX is some car! It goes from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds flat." Nov 6, 2023 at 10:37

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