1

This is the line from a novel 'Baker's Blue-jay yarn' by Mark Twain. I know the meaning of both 'cover' and 'ground', but have no idea 'cover the ground'.

You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure - because he's got feather on him, and don't belong to church, perhaps, but otherwise he is just as much a human as you be. And I'll tell you for why. A jay's gifts, and instincts, and feelings, and interests, cover the whole ground.

2

In this case, "the whole ground" is a metaphor meaning a very wide range. So his "gifts, and instincts, and feelings, and interests" cover a lot of topics. To put it another way, he is interested in a lot of different things, and feels a lot of different things, and so on.

Mark Twain is a delightful author, but he is best known for how he captured the patterns of speech of the poor and uneducated in the late 1800s. I highly recommend his works, but they are probably not the best source if you are trying to learn English. His idioms, sentence structure and often his spelling are archaic now, and were often considered wrong even at that time by educated people.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.