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Bat out of hell

Posted by SR on March 09, 2004

In Reply to: Bat out of hell posted by alias on March 09, 2004

: The phrase 'he ran like a bat out of hell' is it correct or am I missing a few words in it. For some reason I keep thinking that I need to add something like 'he shot out a bat out of hell'

: Can someone please tell me what the phrase actually is, its meaning and origin(if possible)

: from the archives...
: : Alternatively, and truthfully - the expression 'like a bat out of hell' has been in common UK-English usage for decades meaning to fly, usually figuratively. Since Jacobean times at least, bats have been associated with witches and the occult - and therefore thought to originate in the bowels of hell - as they fly and fly quickly as if in panic - to make the comparison with a bat flying out of hell for anything going recklessly fast would seem quite natural and likely to be a country idiom prior to being recorded in print. The problem with origins of this sort is that country expressions would often be ignored as those who had education and could write would often prefer to use 'educated' words of l@tinate or classic origin as opposed to seeming country bumpkins.

Bat out of Hell was a common rural expression in the southeast US a half century ago. I often notice that rural expression in the southeast US at that time had been used in England for centuries. I often think what perpetuates a phrase is as interesting as it origin. Here we read that bat out of hell was perpetuated by an album in '76.