Posted by Smokey Stover on November 14, 2006
In Reply to: Pulling your own weight posted by Bob Horner on November 14, 2006
: Please provide derivation for "Pulling your own weight,"
It comes from rowing, or "crew." As the Oxford English Dictionary put it:
" b. trans. To pull (an oar or sculls); hence, to row, to propel (a boat) by rowing; to transport or convey in a boat by rowing.
to pull one's weight, to row with effect in proportion to one's weight; also fig., to perform one's share of work, to take one's share of responsibility; also to pull weight. to pull stroke: see STROKE n."
It is used figuratively all the time, but always with the meaning above.
The OED gives the following examples: "1897 Daily News 10 Feb. 6/3 In boating phraseology, he 'pulled his weight'..; he was not a mere passenger. 1904 KIPLING Traffics & Discov. 278 They need a lot of working up before they can pull their weight in the boat. 1921 [see WEIGHT n.1 10c]. 1925 E. F. NORTON Fight for Everest: 1924 98 No members of the climbing party pulled more weight in the team than these two by their unostentatious unselfish gruelling work. 1931 Times 27 Feb. 16/5 Referring to people in the administrative grade who did not 'pull their weight', Sir Alfred Woodgate said that assistant principals who had been twice passed over for promotion to principals were a menace to the office and should not be allowed to remain. 1948 M. LASKI Tory Heaven x. 138 Lord Starveleigh asked him down to address the electors... We're all expected to pull our weight, you know. 1976 J. B. HILTON Gamekeeper's Gallows xii. 115 How long was he going to put up with me living off the fat of the land in his kitchen, not pulling my weight with his other servants?"