Posted by Rude Boy on July 16, 2003
In Reply to: Balls-up posted by Miles Golding on July 15, 2003
: Can anyone confirm the nautical origin of this expression? This expression has been discussed, but I can't the following explanation in these archives: when a ship runs aground (a grave mistake with unfortunate consequences) it must display aloft three balls in a vertical line to warn other vessels of its predicament.
Simpler than that - if a couple are having wild and raunchy sex, using their imaginations and different angles of approach - it is not impossible for a testicle to end up squashed where it should not. Crushed testicles, even in that context, are an unwelcome accident.
Alternatively, on the same lines, if one mistakenly attempts to insert the wrong item of male genitalia, that would be a balls-up.
Whilst English does have a rich naval tradition, there are often non-seafaring origins. (see "brass monkey"!)