ODO: require something of = Regard an action, ability, or quality as due from (someone) by virtue of their position

'of' in phrasal verbs, still confuses me. 1. Which ODO definition applies?

2. What are the similarities and differences between 'require from' vs 'require of'?

Please tell me if this example is irrelevant; I am asking in general and not only about this usage, but why not 'require of'? Source: Thomas Jefferson to Robert R. Livingston, 18 April 1802

...but writing by mr Dupont [de Nemours], I need use no cypher. I require from him to put this into your own & no other hand, let the delay occasioned by that be what it will.

  • 1
    You sure the usage hasn't been changed over time? (I don't have access to ngrams and such)
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 19, 2015 at 18:02
  • @MARamezani I'm not completely sure, no, but modern usages also confuse me. I only picked this quote from Jefferson for Jefferson's with excellent writing.
    – user8712
    Feb 19, 2015 at 18:24
  • Emperor Stoney is available in chat. I'll call him to give this a look. :)
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 19, 2015 at 18:35
  • 1
    It is by definition entirely hopeless to try to understand the meaning of an idiom as derivable from the meanings of its parts. Feb 19, 2015 at 18:40
  • 2
    @Omnidisciplinarianist Because it's not an answer: it's an assertion of non-answerability. Feb 20, 2015 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


This would be sense 6: "Indicating the relationship between a verb and an indirect object." Sense 6 has two subsenses ("With a verb expressing a mental state" and "Expressing a cause"), but neither of them seems particularly relevant, so that's as far as ODO takes us.

There are no universal rules for which verbs use which prepositions to construe their arguments; rather, you generally have to learn the right prepositions as part of learning the verb.

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