Posted by R. Berg on December 10, 2002
In Reply to: Origin of phrase... posted by James Briggs on December 10, 2002
: : Where did the phrase "Get on the stick!" come from? It's been driving me crazy! Thanks for your help.
: I've never heard the expression here in the UK - perhaps it's an example of ephemeral slang and is very much generational in its use. In which case, I'm too old!
Not age but locality. The expression has been around in the U.S. for several decades. The Dict. of American Slang says "on the stick" = "on the ball," but that's not the way I've heard it used. To be on the ball is "to be alert and have vitality and ability" (the same book says). To get on the stick (I say) is to go into action, hurry up, get to work (on whatever). Used as a command, similar to "Don't just stand there, DO something!" Its origin may have had something to do with gearshifts, but that connection may exist only in my mind.