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Pull the fat out of the fire

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 24, 2008 at 19:39

In Reply to: Pull the fat out of the fire posted by Shippy on November 24, 2008 at 16:13:

: What's the origin of "pulling your fat out of the fire"?

It's a meaningless reversal of a real and old phrase, "the fat is IN the fire". If you have ever thrown used cooking fat away into a campfire, you'll know what happens - the fire spits, crackles and flares up, and can easily singe your eyebrows off. So "now the fat's really in the fire!" means "trouble has really started!" Quite recently, someone - possibly influenced by another genuine old phrase, "pulling your chestnuts out of the fire" - took it into their head to say "pull the fat out of the fire" to mean "save the situation". It's senseless, though, because one thing you absolutely cannot do is pull hot fat out of the fire once it is well melted and alight! (VSD)

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