Posted by Scott Marsden on February 05, 2001
In Reply to: Re: Shot his wad posted by ESC 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.
: Well, boys and girls. I don't want to rock you back on your heels, it may originally have mean guns and money but now "shooting your wad" refers to the male climax. And it's not a good idea to say it in Sunday School. I prefer "fire all your guns at once."
A phrase I prefer is "shot his bolt". This refers the to the difficulty of loading a crossbow. A bolt is an arrow fired from a crossbow. Once one loads, aims and fires a crossbow, it's a lot of effort to do it again.
Also related is the old phrase: "The fool's bolt is soon spent -- A foolish archer shoots all his arrows so heedlessly that he leaves himself no resources in case of need." Thanks to Brewer for that last one.