High Street?
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Reader question:

In this passage –Sales on the high street suffered their worst ever fall last month, adding to evidence that the UK is heading into recession and prompting renewed calls for an urgent cut in interest rates (High street sales plunge1 3.9%, guardian2.co.uk, July 24, 2008) – what does "high Street" mean?

My comments:

Here, "high street sales" means retail3 sales or sales in shops in general.

High street is British English. It refers to the main street of a city where the biggest shops and businesses are. It's similar to what Americans call "downtown" or what we call CBD in Beijing. In Beijing, the high street or downtown used to be Wangfujing. It still is, but seems to be giving way to areas round Dabeiyao, the CBD (Central Business District). Some locals, by the way, do interpret the new catchword of CBD as China, Beijing, Dabeiyao, though more in jest than by mistake.

In quite a few phrases and idioms, the adjective "high" is coupled with a noun to differentiate4 the noun from the ordinary. High wind, for example, means strong wind. High society, on the other hand, refers to people of the highest social class. High finance, in turn, involves large sums of money. If you're in high spirits, you're having lots of fun. If somebody has a high opinion of you, they approve of you. During the high season, businesses thrive. If you lead a high life, you travel, wine and dine, party all the time. And if you wear high heels, well, walk, or wobble, but don't run.

And so on and so forth5. Anyways, "high street" means the bustling6 business area. However, it might be worth noting that "high street sales" means sales on the street in general, not just on the "high streets" but also the smallish alleys7 near you. High street sales are simply retail.

Here are a few random8 media examples of "high-something" (explanations in brackets are mine):

1. high street (major) banks:

Smaller banks are outstripping9 high street banks by offering better interest rates and superior customer service, reveals an investigation10 by Which? Money.

In its annual current account survey Which? found consumers could earn up to 85 per cent more interest if they switched from HSBC, Barclays, Natwest or Lloyds TSB to a smaller bank such as Cahoot.

The report found most accounts offered by the big four banks pay 0.1 per cent interest, equating11 to 0.40p a year with £500 in your account each month.

- Smaller banks faring better than the high street, moneymarketing.co.uk, July 23, 2008.

2. high-class (expensive) restaurant:

By "expense," Rogers means place how much he spent on the legislator on his financial filing report. If a lobbyist spends more than $50 on a lawmaker in one day, by law the lawmaker's name must be on the report. Less than $50 and the lobbyist only has to list the amount spent, the day it was spent and what it was spent on, like a meal or "entertainment."

Rogers is blunt about how he works -- he tries not to spend more than $50 a day on a legislator. "We don't want to be in the media (for giving gifts) as much as the legislators" don't want to be in the media for accepting them.

Accordingly, "Most of my expenses are breakfasts and lunches. You can really get into some money for dinners" at a high-class restaurant. Rogers lists one legislative12 meal at only $2.84, while an "entertainment" was $48, just $2 short of the naming level.

- Lobbyist thrives on entertaining lawmakers, Deseret News (Salt Lake City), July 17, 2008.

3. high-ranking (high-positioned) officials:

William Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, will join other high-ranking officials from world's major powers at a meeting this Saturday with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Burns, the third-highest ranking US diplomat13, will for the first time attend Group 5+1 talks with the Iranian envoy14 in Switzerland aimed at persuading Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities.

- High Ranking US Diplomat to Meet Iran's Nuclear Negotiator, uskowioniran.blogspot.com, July 16, 2008. 


1 plunge 228zO     
  • Test pool's water temperature before you plunge in.在你跳入之前你应该测试水温。
  • That would plunge them in the broil of the two countries.那将会使他们陷入这两国的争斗之中。
2 guardian 8ekxv     
  • The form must be signed by the child's parents or guardian. 这张表格须由孩子的家长或监护人签字。
  • The press is a guardian of the public weal. 报刊是公共福利的卫护者。
3 retail VWoxC     
  • In this shop they retail tobacco and sweets.这家铺子零售香烟和糖果。
  • These shoes retail at 10 yuan a pair.这些鞋子零卖10元一双。
4 differentiate cm3yc     
  • You can differentiate between the houses by the shape of their chimneys.你可以凭借烟囱形状的不同来区分这两幢房子。
  • He never learned to differentiate between good and evil.他从未学会分辨善恶。
5 forth Hzdz2     
  • The wind moved the trees gently back and forth.风吹得树轻轻地来回摇晃。
  • He gave forth a series of works in rapid succession.他很快连续发表了一系列的作品。
6 bustling LxgzEl     
  • The market was bustling with life. 市场上生机勃勃。
  • This district is getting more and more prosperous and bustling. 这一带越来越繁华了。
7 alleys ed7f32602655381e85de6beb51238b46     
胡同,小巷( alley的名词复数 ); 小径
  • I followed him through a maze of narrow alleys. 我紧随他穿过一条条迂迴曲折的窄巷。
  • The children lead me through the maze of alleys to the edge of the city. 孩子们领我穿过迷宫一般的街巷,来到城边。
8 random HT9xd     
  • The list is arranged in a random order.名单排列不分先后。
  • On random inspection the meat was found to be bad.经抽查,发现肉变质了。
9 outstripping 1c66561dd26f3ef8d97eba3c79ce813d     
v.做得比…更好,(在赛跑等中)超过( outstrip的现在分词 )
  • Demand is outstripping supply. 需求快超过供给了。
  • Demand is outstripping current production. 现在需求逐渐超过了生产能力。 来自辞典例句
10 investigation MRKzq     
  • In an investigation,a new fact became known, which told against him.在调查中新发现了一件对他不利的事实。
  • He drew the conclusion by building on his own investigation.他根据自己的调查研究作出结论。
11 equating 07d40297d19f627f0452d3a051f97d50     
v.认为某事物(与另一事物)相等或相仿( equate的现在分词 );相当于;等于;把(一事物) 和(另一事物)等同看待
  • [ Ray ] I definitely started equating crossword puzzles with songwriting. 我已经干脆开始把字谜游戏等同于歌曲写作了。 来自电影对白
  • But they have a hard time equating plural marriage with those evils. 但是他们很难把这种多妻婚姻与上面说的那些坏事联系起来。 来自互联网
12 legislative K9hzG     
  • Congress is the legislative branch of the U.S. government.国会是美国政府的立法部门。
  • Today's hearing was just the first step in the legislative process.今天的听证会只是展开立法程序的第一步。
13 diplomat Pu0xk     
  • The diplomat threw in a joke, and the tension was instantly relieved.那位外交官插进一个笑话,紧张的气氛顿时缓和下来。
  • He served as a diplomat in Russia before the war.战前他在俄罗斯当外交官。
14 envoy xoLx7     
  • Their envoy showed no sign of responding to our proposals.他们的代表对我方的提议毫无回应的迹象。
  • The government has not yet appointed an envoy to the area.政府尚未向这一地区派过外交官。
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