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"roll with the punches"

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 13, 2005

In Reply to: "Roll with the punches" posted by Mikko on July 13, 2005

: What does "roll with the punches" precisely mean? Any suggestions for origin?

: Thanks,

: Mikko

The Oxford English Dictionary offers this: "f. to roll with the punches (and varr.), of a boxer: to move the body away from the opponent's blows in order to lessen their impact; fig., to adapt oneself to difficult circumstances, take troubles in one's stride. [early citations:]
[1941 F. GILMORE Push Yourself iv. 27 In boxing it is called 'rolling the punch' when a boxer, not having time to avoid being hit, deliberately moves with the punch when it hits him.] 1951 J. J. WALSH Boxing Simplified viii. 32 In an actual bout he will not have so much time to roll with the blow." The suggestion that a boxer may lessen the impact of a blow by moving backwards, by beginning to revolve, or by rotating his head as the blow falls, is physics. It is also a useful metaphor in numerous situations that are not pugilistic, unless you wish to extend the metaphor, and so is used widely in a figurative sense. SS