To fall between two stools
Posted by Masakim on February 25, 2002
In Reply to: To fall between two stools posted by Word Camel on February 25, 2002
: : : How about this phrase? is there another idiom that has the same meaning.
: : : Thanks in advance.
: : "Between two stools one falls to the ground."
: : A donkey between two bundles of hay srarves.
: : A man cannot whistle and drnk at the same time.
: : Doing everything is doing nothing.
: : Grasp all, lose all.
: : He that grasps too much holds nothing.
: : He who hesitates is lost.
: : If you run after two hares you will catch neither.
: : No man can both sip and blow at once.
: I had never heard the full phrase before. When I did, it was used to refer to something that fell between two disciplines or areas of responsibility. "Organising the *cleaning* of Old Street tube? That falls between two stools. London Transport claim it is the council's responsibility and Islington council claims it's just the opposite."
: The original phrase seems subtlety different. It is really more of a caution than a description of a particular situation. Has any one else heard it used the way I described? I just wanted to make sure I haven't been wandering around misinterpreting for years.
fall between the cracks
Also, fall through the cracks or between two stools. Be neglected or overlooked; also, not fit either of two alternatives. For example, "Please make sure that either our department or yours deals with this account, lest it fall between the cracks," or "Trying to be both teacher and parent, she fell between two stools." The variant using stools, with its image of a person falling to the ground between two chairs instead of sitting down on one or the other, was already a proverb in ancient times; in English it was first recorded about 1390.
From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer