Sunday, 25 May 2014

'Pull your finger out' - idioms containing 'Pull'

In the last two blog posts I've talked about common phrases that have an interesting history behind them. Continuing this theme, I will briefly go through four of the most common idioms containing 'pull'.

'Pull your weight' - comes from rowing with the idea if one member of the team fails to pull back their blade with the energy required it's harder for the other team members on your boat to keep momentum.

'Pull out all the stops' - refers to knobs on an organ console that the player pushes in and out. If all the stops are pulled out then the instrument plays with the maximum amount of noise.

'Pull your finger out' - refers to when sailors loaded cannons. When a cannon was loaded, a small amount of gunpowder was needed to set off the cannon. A crew member would hold the gunpowder in place by inserting his finger into the ignition hole. He would (hopefully) remove it in a fast way just before the cannon would fire. Hence why the phrase means to hurry up today.

'Pull your leg' - one of the most common idioms has a mysterious history with no definitive answers. It could either refer to when people would pull on the legs of a hanged person to make sure they were dead, or to simply trip someone up. There is more evidence to suggest the second meaning is the more plausible.

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