Posted by Lewis on February 26, 2004
In Reply to: Re: Rope posted by Smokey Stover on February 26, 2004
: : : : Hi, can you please help me find the meaning and origin of this phrase. thanks.
: : : Being "at the end of your tether" means you're nearly ready to break/give up/explode/whatever. Never heard 'rope' used before, though.
: : The phrase with "rope" is the usual variant in the U.S.
: OED: "to come to the end of one's rope, (a) to be finally checked in wrong-doing; (b) to come to the end of one's resources, to be at the end of one's tether." The two infinitive phrases in (b) suggest two different things to me. Tether is someone else's rope, by means of which I am constrained by him, essentially in captivity, my freedom of movement defined by the end of the tether. To be at the end of MY rope means I've run out of rope (resources) to use for whatever I want to use it (the rope or my resources) for. SS
'end of my tether' = farming metaphor 'tether' in particular being a 'tie' used to park animals. goes along with 'straining at the leash' meaning tense and at the very limit of restraint.
most often used to indicate that the person feels close to 'snapping' and breaking their normal conditions of behaviour.
'champing at the bit' = another farming metaphor of that ilk. lots of metaphors from animal husbandry.