Posted by James Briggs on November 30, 2004
In Reply to: More thoughts but still puzzled Re: The lurch, what is it? posted by Keith Rennie on November 30, 2004
: : : : I am always intrigued by words and phrases that have been reduced (apparently) to one solitary function. Like "the lurch" (n, preceded by definite article). Apart from being left in one, what is it, where did it come from, who discovered it, where can I find one, and what else was it good for in days gone by? Why does it never get full? CAn you reclaim "left" things from it, as in Lost and Found?
: : : : I'm off to bed now, and will check in tomorrow to see what bright ideas you wonderful people have.
: : : The OED says a lurch in that "left in the lurch" context originated in the 16th century from the French word lourche. This is a game somewhat like backgammon. They don't explain why leaving someone there would be a bad thing.
: : : You might enjoy the catechism of cliche in "The Best of Myles" by Flann O'Brien (aka Brian O'Nolan aka Myles na gCopaleen). He had an ear for words that are lazily used together for no good reason that is unsurpassed (or should I say remains unsurpassed - what else is there for an unsurpass to do other than remain?).
: : This is a great start, thanks so much , but my "petit" robert (2000 + pages) doesnt have lourche-it goes from loupiot to lourd.
: : I must read him, but not leave Flann Obrien unsurpassed. The "outsider" always has the best ear. He has recalled to mind the following doggerel:
: : Brien O'Flynn had no trousers to wear
: : So he bought him a sheepskin and made him a pair
: : With the skinny side out and the woolly side in
: : A lucky old man, was Brien O'Flynn.
: : I am still waiting for my OED CD Rom to arrive. I couldn't afford the printed 20 vols.
: More thoughts:-
: There is of course the following entry in this site's phrase finder, but it doesnt really tell where the word itself came from:
: Left in a difficult position without help.
: Originated with the French game of lourche or lurch, played in the 16th century. Players suffered a lurch if they were left in a hopeless position from which they couldn't win the game. The card game of cribbage, or crib, also has a 'lurch' position which players may be left in if they don't progress half way round the peg board before the winner finishes.
: I am wondering whether "lurch" is a corruption of (la) louche, a soup ladle, as in "in the soup", a terminal state for any edible living thing.
Also from cribbage comes another expression, this time meaning to die - 'to peg out', ie to be so far behind that the opponent has placed his/her peg in their last hole on the cribbage board, leaving you 'dead' in the game.