He didn't want her watching him as he jumped off. So long as no one was watching he would be able to say afterwards that he had slipped and fallen by accident. He peered over the side of the ship. It was a long, long drop.

Source: Roald Dahl: Dip in the Pool

I do not fully understand the last sentence of my excerpt. None of the meanings of the word "drop" make sense to me here. Given the context (the man is preparing to jump off the ship) the only explanation is that the sentence describes the protagonist's assessment regarding the height from the side of the ship to the surface of the sea. Am I right?


2 Answers 2


That's correct. Cambridge describes drop, as a noun, to be:

the distance from one thing to something lower

Thus, it is a long, long distance from the side of the ship to the surface of the sea.

  • 3
    "If I would fall, the drop will take a long time."
    – Martijn
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:13
  • @Martijn, this is not using the word drop in the same way as it's used in the question. you're using drop to mean "descent" or "fall," not "distance." the narrator in dip in the pool is saying "it was a long, long [distance]" -- even before he jumped -- not, "it was a long, long [fall]" -- he hasn't fallen yet!
    – abcd
    Apr 16, 2015 at 15:43
  • second, @Martijn, your sentence is grammatically incorrect. it should be, "if i would fall, the drop would take a long time." or better yet, "if i were to fall, the drop would take a long time."
    – abcd
    Apr 16, 2015 at 15:46
  • My bad, typed it in a rush. I can't edit the comment anymore :(
    – Martijn
    Apr 16, 2015 at 16:49

Yes, this is the same distance as rise, but with the connotation of being measured from the top down, where rise is always from the bottom up. (See also: height, depth, lift, climb, fall... all vertical measurements, but with different connotations.)

So you measure the drop of a waterfall, the drop of a purse (from the shoulder of the person carrying it to the top of the purse), or the drop from one mechanical part to another where the top one is at a fixed height and the bottom one is adjustable.

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