While reading god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens, I've come across the following sentence:

This echoes the line taken by the Shinto —another quasi-religion enjoying state support— that Japanese soldiers really fell for the cause of Asian independence.

I can't come up with what take the line means here at all.

I've made my search and found a few examples on the Internet, which are:

  1. “One may take the line that metaphorical devices are inevitable in the early stages of any science and that although we may look with amusement today upon the “essences,” “forces,” “phlogistons,” and “ethers,” of the science of yesterday, these nevertheless were essential to the historical process. (B.F. Skinner, Critique of Psychoanalytic Concepts and Theories)
  2. “If the Creator should take the line that I am born to work and not to sleep, I would agree that I am indeed born to work but I would also make the unanswerable point that I cannot work unless I also rest.” (Sōseki Natsume, I Am a Cat)
  3. Further, let me at once make it plain that in regard to the part that the Church might play I am not going to take the line that it and it alone has the monopoly of so-called healing. (Symposium on the Rehabilitation of the Cancer Disabled: At the Royal College of Surgeons London 1971)

Having considered these examples, I can only suggest, though I'm not so sure, that it might mean have the view that.

Am I right or is it something far more different?

Thank you very much.

1 Answer 1


See Merriam-Webster's definition 4a: "a course of conduct, action, or thought; especially : an official or public position", as in the party line. So take the line that X means something like to adopt X as an official position or stance on an issue.

Your suggestion of have the view that is approximately right, but I think take the line is a little more forceful. It suggests that this is their view, but it also suggests that they believe it very firmly, might try to convince other people of it, and might take action based on it.

  • Thank you vey much. I think that's what I've been looking for. I've searched too much that I somehow have skipped the said definition. Thank you again for your help.
    – A.K.
    Jul 24, 2015 at 14:16
  • 2
    +1 as far as it goes; but I'd add that to take a line often implies not firm belief in the 'line' but expedient adoption of the 'line'. Jul 24, 2015 at 15:40

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