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In the sentence below seems that the word retreat has opposite meaning than its common one.

But, although Richard Pendlebury tried for more enlightenment, the officer retreated into platitude himself.

  • Source, please? I got interested. – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jan 16 '15 at 14:32
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    What is the context? It seems like someone else had retreated into platitudes and Richard was trying to be different but ended up doing the same thing. – Kevin Jan 16 '15 at 14:33
  • @MARamezani From a google search, it appears to be from "The Scar" by Frank Kippax – Kevin Jan 16 '15 at 14:34
  • If the officer is the same as Richard, (these issues are usual in novels) there should be no confusion now. – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jan 16 '15 at 14:44
  • @Kevin I found this sentence on a dictionary.So I don't have any further context.So does it any make sense – Mrt Jan 16 '15 at 19:03
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This is a very archaic usage of terms. It means

But, although Richard Pendlebury tried for more enlightenment, the officer retreated into platitude himself.

But, as Richard Pendlebury asked the officer more clarifying questions, the officer begged them off with platitudes.

In essence the man wanted more information, "enlightenment," yet the officer did not have the answers, so he 'retreated' into platitudes or

a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.

The idea of "retreated into" comes from the idea of someone pressing another, and the other responding in a 'retreating' fashion.

The 'himself' reference implies that Richard Pendlebury was pressing in a manner similar to the officer's responses, even unto using platitudes in his questioning.

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Looks like an example of quirky writing. At least no one would ever say it that way. I wouldn't memorize it as an example of normal english.

Retreating here means to stop putting forth any effort to be helpful, whether through laziness or fear, and to say things instead which require no effort or thought... like platitudes.

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