It looks like you’re using an ad blocker.

Would you like to support LEO?

Disable your ad blocker for LEO or make a donation.

  • Forum home

    English missing

    ..when our fit's over (meaning)


    ..when our fit's over (meaning)



    Yes, an awful lot of sorrow has sort of quieted down up here. People just wild with grief have brought their relatives up to this hill. We all know how it is ... and then time ... and sunny days .. and rainy days .. 'n snow ... tz-tz-tz. We're all glad they're in a beautiful place and we're coming up here ourselves when our fit's over.

    This certainly is an important part of Grover's Corners. A lot of thoughts come up here, night and day....

    (Thornton Wilder, Our Town, Act III)


    Hello, there

    Please what do you take ..when our fit's over to mean in this context? In particular, what does fit mean here? Your help is much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    (Please post in English if you like.)

    Authorkeeblerelf (908281)  30 Nov 22, 01:21

    When we die. (But I gather this only from the context; it is not usual, or current, to use "fit" to mean "course of life".)

    #1Author Martin--cal (272273)  30 Nov 22, 02:38

    Da gibt es doch eine Redewedung "to thow a fit"? Heute würde man sagen: ausflippen/ausrasten

    Throw a fit - Idioms by The Free Dictionary

    throw a fit. To become very or unreasonably angry or upset; to have an outburst of rage, frustration, or ill temper. My mom's going to throw a fit when she sees what happened to the car! I was so embarrassed when Danny started throwing a fit in the grocery store.

    #2Author Harald (dede) [de] (370386)  30 Nov 22, 04:21

    In the meantime it dawned on me that it could be fight instead - when our fight is over. But I'm not sure.

    It would be interesting how it is pronounced in spoken American English here.

    #3Authorkeeblerelf (908281)  30 Nov 22, 09:26

     it could be fight instead

    Why? And what do you mean by "pronounced in AE"? fit is never pronounced fight.

    I was thinking along the lines of fit of grief (i.e. the period of intense grief)? Still an odd way of putting it though.

    #4Author Gibson (418762)  30 Nov 22, 09:40

    My understanding was more like Martin’s. This seems to be about a cemetery on a hill, and the stage manager says “we’re coming up here when our fit is over”, meaning “when our life is over”, maybe thinking of some final illness which involves seizures? But maybe you’re right, and he means the first fit of grief when a loved one has died.

    #5Author Dragon (238202) 30 Nov 22, 09:52

    Like Martin I see it, in context, as meaning “when we die,” – ironically, “when our agony’s over” – either drawing on (Wilder, and his stage manager, could easily be familiar with this) the obsolete 16C sense of “fit” meaning “A mortal crisis; a bodily state (whether painful or not) that betokens death,” or just possibly the unrelated sense, “a part or section of a poem or song,” i.e., again ironically in the sense “when our act is over.”

    #6AuthorBion (1092007) 30 Nov 22, 10:12

    I believe I read "Our Town" at some point in high-school English class, and I know I saw the play a number of times as I worked in the light booth at the back of the auditorium as it was performed, but I've obviously forgotten quite a bit about it, so it's interesting to revisit it in spite of the frustrations of dealing with the one who is posting the questions....

    I'm not sure that I find #3 to be as off-base as #4 does, so I found the 1theory worth checking out. While "fight" is not normally pronounced as "fit" in AE (hint to keeblerelf: there is no one, unified version of AE and BE, just as is true of German in Germany, in Austria, and in Switzerland, etc., although it is fair to say that there is a standard version of each of the above that takes on regional variants ). I've been to many states in the US and appreciate the various ways in which AE is spoken there (some more than others), but I can't say I've encountered every variant, so I can't exclude that pronunciation out of hand.

    I know that the OP resists using Google or whatever for assistance for some unexplainable reason, but I find it helpful to do so, even in questions concerning my native language.

    Here's something I found about Wilder's use of language:

    Wilder comprehended a truth about writing that is very difficult for most student writers to grasp — that is, if you want your writing to have universal impact, you must make it as specific as you can. Thus, Wilder didn't set the play in some nameless Everytown, USA, but in Grover's Corners, NH. He infused it with New England dialect and style. Be sure to point out all of the wonderful New England language quirks that he uses in the play. He makes use of specific regionalisms: "hush-up-with-you," or, my favorite, "'tain't very choice." He spells vernacularly (hull trip for whole trip, git for get, stummick for stomach). He uses euphemisms that add depth and personality to what could be clichés, as when the Stage Manager notes, about the town graveyard, "We're coming up here ourselves when our fit's over." 

    The author doesn't seem to treat "fit" as an example of Wilder's use of regionalisms etc., but rather a euphemism to avoid a cliché. In this context, the standard phrase is clearly "when our life's over."

    In other words, everyone will end up in the cemetery when they die.

    Re #2: While "throw a fit" is indeed a phrase that is used, it doesn't apply here.

    #7Author hbberlin (420040) 30 Nov 22, 10:12

    Oh, an interesting one. Perhaps an old-fashioned turn of phrase, if even the US English speakers find it odd.

    I agree that it seems to be about mortality.

    We use "fit" to mean a brief period of human activity, as in a fit of rage or remorse - and the OED says that in the past it was used to mean a spell (brief period) of something, as in a "fit of good weather". Perhaps that's the idea. Our life as a brief period of activity.

    The etymological connection to "fight" (if there is one) is very old, from Old English (pre-12th century).

    #8Author CM2DD (236324)  30 Nov 22, 10:22

    #8: Nice!

    #9Author hbberlin (420040) 30 Nov 22, 10:29

    That's what I meant in #4.

    #10Author Gibson (418762) 30 Nov 22, 10:33

    FWIW, die Definitionen zu den Substantiven aus dem etymonline-Link in #8 :

     fit (n.1)

    1680s, "process of fitting," from fit (v.). From 1823 as "the fitting of one thing to another;" 1831 as "the way something fits."

     fit (n.2)

    "paroxysm, sudden attack" (as of anger), 1540s, probably via Middle English sense of "painful, exciting experience" (early 14c.), from Old English fitt "conflict, struggle," which is of uncertain origin, with no clear cognates outside English. Perhaps ultimately cognate with fit (adj.) on notion of "to meet." Meaning "sudden impulse toward activity or effort" is from 1580s. Phrase by fits and starts first attested 1610s (by fits is from 1580s).

     ... fit (n.3)

    part of a poem, Old English fitt, of unknown origin; perhaps related to fit (n.2). ...

    #11Author no me bré (700807) 30 Nov 22, 10:33

    I also give some credence to the possibility (#3) that "fit" is local dialect for "fight". Although I've never heard that usage, it might be rural or local or outmoded, or all three. Evidence in favor of the possibility is the African-American spiritual "Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho", although in that case, "fit" is dialect for "fought".

    #12Author Martin--cal (272273) 30 Nov 22, 17:07
    Comment has this:


    6 of 6

    dialectal past tense and past participle of FIGHT

    #13Author Jalapeño (236154) 30 Nov 22, 17:11

    For all his ear-to-the-groundness re local dialect (#7) Wilder was also I seem to recall an erudite writer. It would surprise me if he wasn’t familiar with pretty much all of the uses or senses of “fit” touched on above, including the more abstruse one (or ones) in #6. The verbal “fit” / “fight” idea doesn’t really convince me since the figurative sense of “when our fit’s over” is quite clear without anyone having to resort to that. But who knows.

    #14AuthorBion (1092007)  30 Nov 22, 17:35
 ­ automatisch zu ­ ­ umgewandelt