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What does that mean? I've come across it in one movie:

One guy is being chased by some other which are trying to kill him. And suddenly another man came on the car to help the chased guy out. He said:

Care for a lift.

What may it mean?

  • Which movie is this? Based on the comments below, the exact meaning may depend on whether the character is British, American or something else. – ssav Jun 8 '15 at 9:59
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In British English, offering someone a lift means offering to drive them somewhere in your car. (An American might say ride instead of lift.)

"I gave James a lift to the shops."

"Care for a...?" is a polite way of asking if somebody wants something.

"Would you care for another cucumber sandwich?"

Using excessively polite language in a situation that doesn't call for it, and asking questions to which the answer is very obvious indeed are both found humorous in Britain. So by combining both, the man is taking the opportunity to make a joke out of helping the chased guy.

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    A lift isn't British English; the word is used over in the US, too. Perhaps it's more of a formal expression in British English? Because it does sound almost like slang over here. – J.R. Jun 8 '15 at 9:27
  • I wasn't aware 'lift' has that meaning in the US as well. But I'm under the impression that 'ride' is commonly in the US (it's what they say in the TV shows I watch) while it's almost never used in Britain. (We ride horses, bikes and rollercoasters, but not other people's cars.) – ssav Jun 8 '15 at 9:49
  • ride is indeed common, but lift is not rare. Interesting to know, though, that I should avoid asking for a ride in this situation in the UK. You've prompted me to leave a comment under my own answer. Thanks! – J.R. Jun 8 '15 at 9:53
  • Ride is one of the many, many words used as a euphemism for sex in the UK. We'd probably know what you meant from context, but any excuse to make a crude joke... – ssav Jun 8 '15 at 9:57
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    Using language that is excessively polite or formal for the situation, and asking questions to which the answer is obvious, can be considered humorous here in the U.S. too. (As always with humor: if it's done right.) – Jay Jun 8 '15 at 13:54
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It's a joke. It's a very polite way of saying "Would you like me to take you with me?" It's not really appropriate in that situation. This type of joke is very usual in action movies.

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    I think this answer could be improved if you explained why it's a joke, and why it's "not really appropriate" in that situation. (I'm a little confused, to be honest.) – J.R. Jun 8 '15 at 9:30
  • So, it meant offering to drive in a joke way, right? – Dmitrii Bundin Jun 8 '15 at 18:43
  • @DmitryBundin - I don't know much about the movie scene you described. Did the driver of the car know that the other person was being chased and was in desperate danger? Or did they just happen to drive along the road, and offer a lift (ride), in a deus ex machina kind of way? (I might get a chuckle either way, but I'd be laughing for different reasons.) – J.R. Jun 8 '15 at 21:02
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A lift is a somewhat informal term for a ride [in the car].

If we were at a party, and you were going to walk home, I might say:

It's cold outside. Let me give you a lift.

That's essentially the same thing as:

It's cold outside. Let me give you a ride home.

NOAD defines this as:

lift (n.) a free ride in another person's vehicle


The phrase care for, when used at the beginning of a question, is essentially the same as do you want or would you like.

So:

Care for a lift?

means:

Would you like for me to give you a ride?

or:

Want to join me in my car, so I can take you somewhere?

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  • Bear in mind, the "somewhat informal" part is not universal, apparently. It's somewhat informal in the U.S., not informal in the U.K., and we'd need someone else to chime in about, say, Australia or New Zealand. – J.R. Jun 8 '15 at 9:56

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