Posted by Bob on November 24, 2002
In Reply to: Brass Ring posted by Bruce Kahl on November 24, 2002
: : : : I've heard this term more than once now, and understand it to be US-based, meaning a goal or an incentive. Am I right, how is it used, and how did it originate?
: : : It is what children obtained by reaching out from a merry-go-round (round about?)to snatch a ring from a device that was next to the merry-go-round. You had to hold on with one hand, reach out and grab the ring with perfect timing to get your prize.
: : Bruce,
: : You've done it again! - what a splendid picture and fine explanation. However, unknown in the UK, I think.
: I thank you for your kind words!
We should add that the rings came down a gravity-fed chute, and all of them were iron, except one - the brass ring, which gave you a free second ride as your prize. All the rings were collected by the ride operator and reloaded (in random order) for another chance at the brass ring. So the prize was not merely for being dextrous or long-armed (any child older than, say, 7, could pull a ring) but there was a considerable element of longshot chance involved. The metaphorical use of the phrase "going for the brass ring" has a little of that longshot buried in it.