2

“My copy is terrible!” he writes in a slightly panicked email. “I need copy that converts like crazy and I need it yesterday!”

what does yesterday mean here?

  • The word yesterday is not special by itself here. You can read "I need it yesterday!" as "I wish I would have had it since yesterday!" – Damkerng T. Jan 25 '15 at 6:56
  • I need it really soon. How soon? I'll tell you: I don't need it in two hours. I don't need it in one hour. I don't need it in ten minutes. I need it yesterday. – Adam Jan 25 '15 at 8:04
3

In plain English, the word "yesterday" refers to the day before "today".

Obviously, the speaker can't have something given to him before today - not without a time machine, at least. It this case, his use of the word "yesterday" is an example of exaggeration or hyperbole. Logically, he would say "I need it RIGHT NOW", but instead he goes beyond that and says "I need it YESTERDAY" to convey how urgently he needs the copy.

1

Literally, this doesn't make sense in English. In this case it's a figure of speech and means that something's late or overdue.

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