there is no there there

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From a remark by Gertrude Stein in Everybody's Autobiography (1937), concerning the fact that her childhood home in California no longer existed.

Phrase[edit]

there is no there there

  1. (idiomatic) The indicated thing, person, or other matter has no distinctive identity, or no significant characteristics, or no functional center point; nothing significant exists in that place; nothing significant is occurring in that situation.
    • 1992 May 6, Anna Quindlen, "Public & Private: No There There," New York Times (retrieved 1 March 2017):
      There is a character issue for Mr. Bush in this campaign. The clothes have no emperor. There is no there there.
    • 1996 Oct. 12, Sir Terence Conran "Travel in Style," Independent (UK) (retrieved 1 March 2017):
      This desire to express national difference comes at a time when the world is shrinking rapidly and travellers arrive halfway across the globe to find that there is no "there" there.
    • 2001 June 24, Julian Dibbell, "The Race to Build Intelligent Machines," Time (retrieved 1 March 2017):
      Cog is an artificially intelligent computer that is trying to learn about the world. . . . Cog's "mind," similarly, is just a collection of loosely coordinated digital reflexes scattered among its eight processors, with no one place to point to as the seat of intelligence. "There's no there there," notes Brooks with a touch of pride.
    • 2003 Sept. 26, M. L. Lyke, "Mill Creek works to stay 'nice'," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (retrieved 1 March 2017):
      Mill Creek . . . still lacks a geographic heart. . . . There's no "there" there, no center to the city—unless you count the private Mill Creek Country Club or the grocery-store shopping centers.
    • 2016 Jan. 9, Scot Lehigh, "Don’t presume Trump in New Hampshire," Boston Globe (retrieved 1 March 2017):
      With Trump, there’s no there there. That is, no substance—not if substance is taken to mean a coherent set of policy proposals.

Further reading[edit]