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General Writing and Grammar Help/Hit bottom - hit the bottom of the barrel

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Question
Dear Ted:

Is it "to hit/reach bottom" or "to hit the bottom of the barrel"?

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Also, what are the opposites of the above expressions?

Thank you,

Paolo

P.S. Ted, is the question "What are the opposites of the above expressions" correctly written?

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is it "to hit/reach bottom" or "to hit the bottom of the barrel"?

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Also, what are the opposites of the above expressions?

**** I have never heard either of these phrases.  There is a popular idiom, which is probably what you mean:  to scrape the bottom of the barrel.  It means that you are very desperate, so much so that you will extend your hand to get the "dregs" that are found only at the bottom of the barrel.  In short, you will accept things that are really inferior, things that most people would discard or throw away.  


EXAMPLES:

John is a really unpleasant person.  Jane must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel when she found him to be her boyfriend.

Because the college failed to meet their quota for incoming freshmen, the admissions office had to scrape the bottom of the barrel, admitting students who were not up to the high standards the college tried to maintain.

Some possible opposites are these:

The college was able to choose the cream of the crop for its freshmen class.

John was the best apple in the basket, and that's why Jane chose him.

Jack had a lot of political connections, so he could choose a plum job.  [There is actually a book published by the U. S. government.  It lists the best jobs available in Washington, D. C.  It is referred to as "The Plum Book."  

Thank you,

Paolo

P.S. Ted, is the question "What are the opposites of the above expressions"
correctly written?

*** YES

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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