In Reply to: Have your lunch handed to you posted by Leslie on October 28, 2008 at 16:04:
: I'd like to ask if anyone knows the origin and the usage of 'have your lunch handed to you.' I know it means 'to be outperformed.' But does it imply that if you're not working hard more, you will be got rid of (have your lunch handed to you and go back home.)?
This is a puzzler, to me. To some, it is related to "eat your lunch," as in, "He will eat your lunch." But it doesn't seem to have anything to do with "working harder," and is not a caution to improve your knowledge or ability. It's just a statement. If someone has handed you your lunch he has shown you up, made mincemeat of your pretensions. When Bush meets Putin, Putin will hand Bush his lunch. When Smith fought Jones, Jones handed Smith his lunch.
Why lunch? It is just barely possible that this stems from the literal meaning of the phrase, still very much in use. When Mom hands Johnny his lunch on his way to school, is that anything like Prizefighter Smith handing Prizefighter Jones his lunch? If so, it would be Smith acting like the senior, the better, the experienced veteran, and Jones being reminded that he's just a child in comparison. But that's a guess from way out in left field. Keep looking.