How long is a piece of string?

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How long is a piece of string?

A set phrase used to avoid responding to a question requesting an estimate of the size, amount, or duration of something. The phrase is used to indicate that the speaker does not know or does not want to guess. A: "How much time will we need to devote to renovation?" B: "How long is a piece of string?"
See also: how, long, of, piece

how long is a piece of string?

When people say How long is a piece of string? they mean that they are not able to guess the length, size or amount of something. Asked how long it might take to fix, he said: `How long is a piece of string?' Mary Ross is convinced the health food market is huge, but is not sure just how big. `How long is a piece of string?' she said.
See also: how, long, of, piece

how long is a piece of string?

used as a rejoinder to indicate that it is unreasonable for someone to expect the speaker to be more precise about something. informal
See also: how, long, of, piece

how long is a piece of ˈstring?

(British English, spoken) used to say that there is no definite answer to a question: ‘How long will it take?’ ‘How long’s a piece of string?’
See also: how, long, of, piece
References in periodicals archive ?
The answers that I keep getting is "it will be emptied soon", well how long is a piece of string? We are now coming up to six weeks, not only in my grove but surrounding roads in B26.
"How long is a piece of string?" Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey when asked how long Britain would be involved in North Africa "I am not going to be one of those people who carry on regardless.
A HOW long is a piece of string? It's one of those questions.
How long is a piece of string? In the case of Windshape, a pair of wind responsive pavilions embedded in the medieval townscape of Lacoste, the answer is an astonishing 50km.
Unfortunately, this is not covered in the 'Am I Being Taken For A Ride?' chapter of 'How Long Is a Piece of String' -which is about taximeters!
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