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I have been reading an experience told by someone about her hen. This is the sentence :

She never fully recovered (always had the limp and almost useless left leg), but died at a VERY humble 12 years old...yep...that is NOT a misprint...she was 12 years old when she died!

I wanted to know that does the word "humble" there mean "at least"?

This is the whole story:

My first hen, Emma, was "orphaned" as an adult when her keeper, who was in her 90's died.
She was about 3 years old when we took her in, and then she had a stroke. She did the same thing...would eat and lay, but couldn't walk.
After hours and hours of me working with her and getting her to try to walk, she started being able to with a huge limp.
She never fully recovered (always had the limp and almost useless left leg), but died at a VERY humble 12 years old...yep...that is NOT a misprint...she was 12 years old when she died!

No one believes me until I show pictures of me and Emma, with me being little holding her, then bigger, then bigger, then finally, I am an adult in the pictures...haha

Don't give up hope...a stroke doesn't always mean the end, especially for a pet hen, even when others that are "pros" are saying "it's time for the stew pot".

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    Was this written by a native English speaker? "...died at a (very humble) 12 years old" sounds wrong in many ways - you have the indefinite article with plural; at n years old is unidiomatic (it is either died at the age of 12 or was 12 years old when she died). It is difficult to interpret the meaning of a word in context where the language is questionable - the word may have been misused. – Lucky Jun 25 '15 at 7:07
  • I would say that the chicken lived well beyond the average lifespan, and that humble here refers to the infirmities of old age. The language of the excerpt is perfectly idiomatic. (google.com/…) – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 25 '15 at 9:30
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Here, humble means :

Near the ground; not high or lofty; not pretentious or magnificent; unpretending; unassuming; as, a humble cottage.

It is opposed to venerable age on which you should have achieved "great" things like raised a family or owned a house.

  • A humble cottage I can understand; a humble 12 years old, not so much. – deadrat Jun 25 '15 at 7:34
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    According to a quick Google search, 8 years is average lifespan. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 25 '15 at 9:29
  • @Yohann V.: The piece is about a hen, not about humans. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 25 '15 at 11:00
  • @TRomano The purpose of the story is to be misleading Emma for a human and not a hen, this is the punch-line of the joke and is not discovered before or in the sentence the OP is asking about. So, "humble" is perfectly leading to think Emma is young. – Yohann V. Jun 25 '15 at 12:14
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'Humble' is usually used to mean simple, or unassuming or modest. It's usage here is wrong - 'respectable' would be a good replacement. ('A very respectable age' is idiomatic in the UK meaning a long life).

  • Any explanation forthcoming on the downvote? – Steve Ives Jun 25 '15 at 14:07

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