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I came across a sentence in Dean Koontz book 'Chase'

It was

He walked the length of the Mustang.

I searched this on Google and google returned some examples like

  1. walk the length of Great Wall of China
  2. walk the length of the thames
  3. walk the length of the Manhattan

Could you please explain what exactly it means and how can we use it in our daily conversation and not the ones that are listed above.

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    It is obvious. This means 'to walk along the length of something'. You walk from one place on something such as a line, road, or edge towards the other end of it.
    – user11470
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 6:58
  • @Humbulani - nice comment. but i'd like to know sth beyond obvious. How do you walk the length of a river which might be running through many cities ?
    – Leo
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 8:49
  • are you going to walk the entire length of a river which is running through many cities? This is a bold decision! @Leo
    – user11470
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 9:43
  • @Humbulani - if you dont understand phrases, pls dont waste my time. I am nt here to fool around.
    – Leo
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 9:51
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    Many rivers are very meanderous, so I guess the exact meaning of "walk the length of the river" would depend on the context: from "follow each turn faithfully" to "walk in the general direction without being too scrupulous". Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 9:53

1 Answer 1

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He walked the length of the Mustang.

You can walk along a shorter side of the Mustang, in its front or rear. It will take a couple of steps.

Or, you can walk the length of the Mustang, say, along its right or left side. It will take an additional couple of steps, because this way, the walk is longer.

An example:

Remember that the longest way is the length of a thing, and the breadth is the shortest way. [...]
Find out how long it would take you, at the rate of twenty miles a day, to walk the length of the county you live in, and then find out how long it would take you to walk the breadth of it.
(John Cassell, 1865)

It will take a while to walk the length of the UK, and less time to walk its breadth. Similarly, it will take much time to

walk the length of Great Wall of China

But a much shorter time to

walk the breadth of the Great Wall of China

In a fiction work such as written by Dean Koontz, this construction might be used to put emphasis on the process of walking along the side of a Mustang. To enhance suspense, say. There might be someone hiding behind the far side of the car.

P.S. With rivers, it's harder to say:

walk the length of the Mississippi

Would it mean "follow each meander that the Missippi takes along its main route"? Or just "walk in the general north-south direction until you've traversed from the northernmost to the southernmoust latitude point the river reaches (or vice versa)"? I guess it will depend on the context.

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