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Short end of the stick

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on December 03, 2009 at 09:07

In Reply to: Short end of the stick posted by Tom Meyer on December 02, 2009 at 09:30:

: The origin of the phrase "short end of the stick"

: A stick has a finite length, so how could it have a short end? I inferred a situation in which one was in some sort of a tug of war, using a "stick" instead of a rope. Having less stick to hang onto would be disadvantageous.
: Then I heard a neighbor's wife tell how her husband's older brother had inherited the farm and that she and her husband "got the shit end of the stick." Having worked on a farm as a boy, it all made sense to me now. If you needed to walk through a mess of cow shit to bring the cows in for milking, you'd use a long pole (maybe a shovel handle) as a walking stick to maintain your balance. If your boots got stuck, you'd use the pole as a rescue device, reaching it out to some helper, who'd pull you out of the muck. Unfortunately, one of you got the shit end of the stick. Most logical explanation I'd heard.

: "Short" is to "shit" as "heck" is to "hell." The phrase had been sanitized for common use. That's my story and I'm "sticking" to it.

Have you read the relevant entry in the "Meanings and sayings" list? (VSD)