Posted by R. Berg on February 03, 2001
In Reply to: Shot his wad posted by marcus on February 03, 2001
: : need to know origin of this expression. Think it might be from the civil war period. Thanks.
: : im going out on a limb here, but I think it refers to muzzle loading rifles and how in the heat of battle as one is reloading, it was common to forget to drop a ball down the barrel before packing the wadding in. hence a wasted shot.
Here are some more possibilities. The Dictionary of American Slang gives two definitions for "wad": first, "a roll or wad of paper money . . . esp. a lot of it or all that one has," with citations of this use from 1814 through recent times; second, "the mouth. Some use c1885-c1920; obs." No entry for "shoot one's wad" as a phrase.