This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Thing Not To Do Today: go pear-shaped.

A pear, if you can find one in the thirty minute interval when it's neither tooth-cracking wood nor bladder of rotting juice, is a marvellous thing.

It's beautiful, too:

Pomological Watercolor POM00006921.jpg

So what's wrong with being pear-shaped? 

Well, nothing, really. 

It may not be the most fashionable figure for ladies at the moment, but on the other hand a low centre of gravity is jolly useful if you're trying to negotiate icy pavements.

In Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, however, a plan that has gone pear-shaped has gone seriously wrong.

It's not an expression used for very serious incidents: no one would refer to a fatal car journey as having gone pear-shaped, except ironically (and even a British person would be careful about using irony in such a situation).

But if you were planning to meet someone and you couldn't get there because of a diversion; or your souffle turned out to be more of a sad puddle; or your attempt at the world domino-toppling record is plagued by minor earthquakes and/or cockroaches, then things will have gone pear-shaped.

How to avoid this, I'm not sure. 

I suppose you could always not make plans involving transport, whipped egg whites, or world records.

But then nothing ventured...

...ah well. 

Good luck, anyway.

Thing Not To Do Today: go pear-shaped. There has been lots of argument about this expression, but it seems to be Royal Air Force slang from the 1980s, a euphemism for an expression describing the position of the mammary glands when fallen flat on the back and thus out of action.

The most surprising thing about this is that anyone serving in the RAF felt in need of a euphemism.

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