Bale out

Posted by Gary Martin on September 23, 2001

In Reply to: Bale out posted by Sharon Hoskinson on September 23, 2001

: A correction: Meaning given here is "To remove water from a boat. In military parlance this also means to escape from a damaged plane or other vehicle."

: That's the wrong "bale" for the phrase. It's "bail" when talking about bailing out water, or escaping a damaged plane or vehichle. A "bale" is a bundle of goods. To "bale" is to bundle, to make up a bale.

Glad that you like the site.

I can't completely agree with you about bale/bail. There are at least three meanings of bale/bail out:

- To remove water from a boat. Here I think you are right; the bucket used is a 'bail', so bail out is the correct spelling. Bale out is the usual but, as the OED says, "less correct" form that is commonly used in the UK.

- To jump out of an aircraft. Here I'm happy with 'bale out', the allusion being to throwing out a bundle or bale rather than decanting water. Again, the OED accepts the alternative of 'bail out', although is a bit snooty about it - "rare form, origin US".

- To pay to have someone released from bail. Naturally, this is 'bail out'.

: Nice site you have here, and very useful!

: Sharon Hoskinson