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Tiger by the tail

Posted by Kgt on May 13, 2003

In Reply to: Tiger by the tail posted by Henry on May 12, 2003

: : : Can anyone give me the origin and meaning(s) of the expression "having a tiger by the tail"?

: : I can give you the meaning but none of my references gave an origin. I took a guess:

: : HAVE A TIGER BY THE TAIL - "Cope with an obsession; pursue an idea, a talent or even a vice obsessively; face a trying problem." From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

: : There's a similar proverb: "He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount - Once a dangerous or troublesome venture is begun, the safest course is to carry it through to the end. 1875 W. Scarborough 'Collection of Chinese Proverbs.'" But I am guess "tiger by the tail" might have to do with "The Story of Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman:
: : ".And the Tigers were very, very
: : angry, but still they would not let go of each other's tails.
: : And they were so angry, that they ran round the tree,
: : trying to eat each other up, and they ran faster
: : and faster, till they were whirling round so fast
: : that you couldn't see their legs at all.

: : And they still ran faster and faster and faster, till
: : they all just melted away, and there was nothing
: : left but a great big pool of melted butter (or
: : 'ghi,' as it is called in India) round
: : the foot of the tree."
: : sambo.htm Accessed May 12, 2003.

: Once you let go of the tiger's tail, it is going to eat you!

: I think the phrase means that you've taken up a position which you thought would give you control but in fact is going to be very difficult or dangerous to escape from.

Yes..thank you both