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The meaning and origin of the expression: But screw your courage to the sticking-place

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But screw your courage to the sticking-place

Meaning

Be steadfast and of good courage.

Origin

Cobbe family portrait of William ShakespeareFrom Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605:

LADY MACBETH
We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail.

It is thought that Shakespeare was making the allusion to the screwing-up of the peg of a musical instrument until it becomes tightly fixed. If that is so then the phrase's meaning is 'keep screwing up your courage until it reaches the sticking place' not, as is usually thought 'affix your courage to the sticking place'.

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.