Example with a context (YouTube link):

I went back into the cafe and asked if I could look at the telephone book. I turned to L and ran my finger down the outside of the page. Soon I found the name I was looking for: "Las Cabanas".

How do you understand the phrase the outside of the page? I have a real hard time creating a mental picture of that.

  • 4
    Ugh, this isn't carefully chosen. I guess the speaker meant he/she slid their finger right near the page/outside the borders of the actual content (so they can see where their fingertip is pointing to and hide the content with it)
    – zerohedge
    Apr 20, 2015 at 11:49
  • and not* hide, of course.
    – zerohedge
    Apr 20, 2015 at 12:33
  • I think it was supposed to be "the outside of the pages" referring to the outside of the telephone book. Doing this you could see the letter indication on the pages.
    – user3169
    Apr 21, 2015 at 1:37
  • @zerohedge You want to make that an answer? This still shows up in the unanswered category if you just answer in comments, and we can't really vote on it.
    – DCShannon
    May 1, 2015 at 3:51
  • At what time in the video is the phrase? Or do you expect us to listen to over an hour of cheesy English to find it?
    – user6951
    May 10, 2015 at 6:58

4 Answers 4


Sometimes an image is worth 1000 words. This person is running her finger down the outside of the page, to help her eye follow the column of phone numbers.

person running finger down column of phone numbers on outer edge of phone book


The outside of a page is the side (edge, really) away from the binding.

Mental picture: This makes more sense if you picture a book being opened and laid flat. Now the binding is in the middle, the innermost part of the object before you. The left and right extremities are the outer parts of the book: the unbound edges of the pages.

So what is the person doing? The individual might not be literally running their finger down the edge of the page (oww, papercut!), but running it along the part of the page near this outer edge: the margin, where there's no text printed. Running a finger down the page is a way to keep track of where you are looking in a long list, and keeping your finger to the outside avoids obscuring the text and avoids smudging the ink (if the phone book is anything like newspaper print, that's a serious risk).

Caution: The phrase "outside of the page" is not an everyday idiom (not where I'm from, anyway), and I don't have any sources to back this up. This is only what I, a native speaker, immediately interpret "outside of the page" to mean. It is different to what the image in the video shows, but I am inclined to trust my judgement more than a picture which may not be specifically meant to illustrate the exact words.

  • This diagram illustrating the Inside and Outside margins on this web page agrees with you! May 10, 2015 at 23:56

I think the writer here probably meant "the margin", or "outer edge of the page".


I agree it meant the margin, and not what would be "outside" the book when closed.

As a less common use, I've seen outside used as the opposite of middle. So by outside, he'd mean the far right or left part of the page.

Another uncommon use I've seen is inside / outside used synonymous with near / far with paired items. Ex. If I'm sitting next to my girlfriend, I could hold her "inside" hand since it's near me, but couldn't reach the outside "hand."

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