Posted by Bob on October 17, 2004
In Reply to: That's an excellent question! posted by TheFallen on October 16, 2004
: : : : : : : It was up to my grille
: : : : : : : When did *up to one's grille* first originate?
: : : : : : : thanks
: : : : : : I've not heard this expression used figuratively, but I expect it could be. In case anyone doesn't know, a "grille" at least in the UK is found at the front of a car and is the slotted air intake that serves to cool the radiator when the car's in motion. (The reason I'm explaining this is that I'm well aware that car parts tend to be called something entirely different in the US - viz bonnet/hood, boot/trunk, petrol/gas, speedometer/odometer etc - and I don't know whether you guys across the pond call a grille something different).
: : : : : : So, if you're driving through water and it comes up to your grille, it's getting to the stage where you may stall and then you'll be in trouble and in for some wet ankles. It's not the water coming up to the grille that's actually the problem... the danger's at the other end where if the water level rises above exhaust (tail) pipe level, then you will almost certainly stall.
: : : : : : This is why my preferred practice when faced with an expanse of road flooded to a depth of 8 or more inches is to gun my car through it at some speed, the theory being that the forward motion of the car will cause enough of a displaced wake to keep the exhaust pipe clear. It's worked so far.
: : : : : We call it a grille over here, too. But the odometer and the speedometer are two different things. The odometer records how many miles the car has been driven. The speedometer indicates the speed the car is currently traveling at. And in fact the speedometer is a gauge, not a meter, but everyone in the English-speaking world that I know of calls it that anyway.
: : : : : P.S. When driving on dark country roads we use hi-beams. You guys use main beams, if I'm not mistaken. I had a Triumph many years ago and the owner's manual referred to a "main beam switch".
: : : : : P.P.S. I hope you're joking about your method of driving through 8 inches of water!
: : : : Actually we use "undipped headlights" - seriously!
: : : I think we're more prone to call the odometer the mileometer.
: : So they're still in miles, then. What will you call it when Europeanization is complete? The Kilometer-ometer?
: ...but I hope I never find out. I like imperial measures.
I once owned an MG, and the owners' manual spoke of the "demister." Being a little thick-headed, I puzzled over what a dem-is-ter could be, until I (slowly) realized it was a de-mist-er, or what we Yanks call a defroster.
But all that being said, the original questioner may be asking about another use of "grille" that's been gaining currency in the past year or so, particularly in the world of sports and sports broadcasting: two people arguing face to face will elicit the comment "he's getting right up in his grille," using grille as a metaphor for face. It caught my ear about a year ago, and I have been noting more and more instances of it recently. But I will caution that it's almost always "in his grille" and not "up to one's grille," so this may be slightly off topic.