Posted by James Briggs on March 31, 2005
In Reply to: " questions posted by Bruce Kahl on March 31, 2005
: : : 1) Does anyone know where 'out on a limb' comes from?
: : : 2) Cheap at half the price - should that be 'double' not half? Cheap at half the price does not make sense - if something is cheap then it will be even cheaper at half the price. To express suprise of the cheapness of an item, the saying should surely be 'thats cheap at double the price'
: : As far as your second question goes, the fact that it doesn't make sense is, I think, the whole point. It is meant to be a joke.
: : DFG
: From the Archives via ESC:
: OUT ON A LIMB - "In an exposed or dangerous position. One can surmise that the literal origin of this saying was the treed animal, which was highly vulnerable to the hunter if it got out on a limb. The saying originated in the United States and by 1897 had acquired its figurative meaning, which is seen in 'Wolfville' by A.H. Louis: 'Several of us.seein' whatever we can tie down and brand, when some Mexicans gets us out on a limb.'" From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).
The 'cheap' here applies not to the price but the quality. Thus something which is poorly made could still be regarded as cheap even at half the original price.