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One idiom that's been confusing me for some days is 'to say nothing of'. The Free Dictionary gives entries such as 'not to mention someone or something' and 'not even considering or mentioning the full significance of something or someone'. I'm not sure what the general meaning of the idiom is. Does it mean 'in addition to the subject being mentioned' or does it mean 'does not to take into consideration of other things; fail to factor in other aspects'?

Here's another definition and example sentence I've looked up on Wiktionary.org:

"to say nothing of

Definition: (idiomatic) An apophasis used to mention another important, usually related, point: not taking into account, not to mention, without considering.

Example: She had already eaten a large lunch, to say nothing of a full cooked breakfast that morning"

I'm still confused. Please help

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Examples paraphrased.

In very casual and loose terms, "to say nothing of X" is like saying "I haven't even started telling you about this subject. It's even worse/better than what I've already said. Listen to this. X."

1) Itera is hardly a household name in Russia, to say nothing of the rest of the world.
~ Itera is hardly a household name in Russia, and it's even more unknown in the rest of the world.

2) It's a marvelous house with Georgian bedrooms that are unique and romantic, to say nothing of the surrounding woods, smothered in daffodils in spring.
~ It's a marvelous house with Georgian bedrooms that are unique and romantic, and the surrounding woods, smothered in daffodils in spring, are even more distinctive and romantic.

3) I find it hilarious that the space station now relies exclusively on the Russians. Reagan must be spinning in his grave, to say nothing of McCarthy.
~ I find it hilarious that the space station now relies exclusively on the Russians. Reagan must be spinning in his grave, and there's no way of guessing what even more extreme behavior is going on in McCarthy's grave.

4) We don't always act in our own best interests, to say nothing of the interests of others.
~ We don't always act in our own best interests, and we do even worse at acting in the interests of others.

5) As an editor, I see mistakes in dropping words, punctuation, and grammar, to say nothing of spelling errors.
~ As an editor, I see mistakes in dropping words, punctuation, and grammar, and those are nothing compared to the number of spelling errors I see.

CJ

Comments  

What Wiktionary calls apophasis is more properly paralipsis. It is a sort of irony. It is not an idiomatic expression but a rhetorical device. President Ronald Reagan famously used it when, under fire because of his advanced years, he said of his opponent Walter Mondale, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." A similar phrase to "to say nothing of" is "needless to say", and "not to mention" is a synonomous phrase. You emphasize something in the very act of pretending to hide it.

Take your example: "She had already eaten a large lunch, to say nothing of a full cooked breakfast that morning." Suppose it had been "She had already eaten a large lunch, and a full cooked breakfast that morning." That way it is merely a report of her food consumption from morning to afternoon. "To say nothing of" means that the large lunch was more than ample intake, but she not only ate all that but did it on top of another large meal, to her discredit and detriment.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.