I was reading my book came across with below sentence.

I don't believe a word of that story because it would take a guy with a great deal of starch to pull it off.

I think it means that, given the meaning of starch and pull off, the story is weird and requires huge amounts of time and concentration to be figured out.

Am I correct? If no, would you kindly explain the meaning to me.

  • Where did you look the word up? See Definition 4b.
    – J.R.
    Apr 21, 2016 at 12:37
  • @J.R. Macmilan, by the way, why negative pont?
    – Cardinal
    Apr 21, 2016 at 12:50
  • If "it" from the phrase relates to something that the guy from the story did, then you're missing the correct meaning. Are you talking about a piece of literary work or about the actions of the character. Clear that up, please.
    – Victor B.
    Apr 21, 2016 at 12:50
  • @J.R. Rompey: I was doubted that between "it needs great amounts of energy" or "it needs great amount of imaginations, examinations and these sorts of things "
    – Cardinal
    Apr 21, 2016 at 13:04
  • If you looked up a word, you should tell us where you looked it up, and also tell us what you found there. (That's Point #3 on our Details, please meta post.) You should also tell us the name of this book, so people can find more context if need be. Ideally, this information should be edited into your question, not merely included in subsequent comments.
    – J.R.
    Apr 21, 2016 at 16:05

2 Answers 2


Starch in a figurative sense means:

  • (Informal) vigor; energy; stamina; boldness.

To pull it off:

  • (Slang) - To accomplish something; succeed; make it: pull it off and keep the patients coming back for more (1887+)


  • It would take a greal deal of courage/boldness to make it.
  • 2
    Think of what starch does to fabric: It causes it to stiffen. So in a figurative sense, a person with a lot of starch would have a stiff spine, e.g. be tough and rigid. That's the likely implication. It's probably a bit antiquated now, but that's the impression that I get. Apr 21, 2016 at 14:54
  • 1
    There are lots of informal ways to say "courage" or "boldness", like guts or balls. I believe starch was chosen here specifically for the pun: the story involves a thief carrying off the loot in plain sight because it's in a laundry bag and he has the presence of mind to say "I'll have the shirts back on Friday".
    – Martha
    Apr 21, 2016 at 17:46

If "it" from the phrase relates to something that the guy from the story did, then you're missing the correct meaning. What you are talking about - a piece of literary work or the actions of the character, that needed a lot of courage - can only be guessed by the words "that story".

So, the meaning of the sentence may be this: It's hardly believable that a regular guy could manage to do what the character from the story did, and that's why the reader didn't believe a word of that story.

In other words, the character of the story did something which the reader thinks unbelievable to be done by an ordinary man, and he, the reader, didn't believe it

  • The highlighted sentence is the response of a guy listening to another guy narrating a story about a robbery. see here: books.google.co.uk/…
    – Cardinal
    Apr 21, 2016 at 15:36
  • after you opened the above link, find section "wordsearch 16". there are some pages you must turn to reach to "wordsearch 16"
    – Cardinal
    Apr 21, 2016 at 15:43
  • Thanks for the link. Seems a pretty useful book to better one's command of the second language.
    – Victor B.
    Apr 21, 2016 at 16:21

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