phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

"a live one"

Posted by Lewis on June 19, 2003

In Reply to: "A live one" posted by Moe on June 18, 2003

: : : Some people say, to their friend or co-worker, "we've got a live one" when confronted by a peculiar person. Where does the expression "a live one" come from, and any guess as to what was referred to originally?

: : Two sensible guesses - the military - munitions are either 'live' or 'dead' and on the battlefield, there used to be truces part-way through battle to recover the bodies or the wounded - I would expect that when inspecting the "corpses" one would find a live one now and again and a cry would go up to rush the nearly departed to the field hospital.

: : The second sensible suggestion is fishing - finding a live one when you are about to gut it would be a surprise. for some reason, I think of eels...

: Yes, Lewis, I can see that these "live ones", in the simple real-world examples you have given, stand out from those around them (that is, alive rather than dead). But how has the leap been made in the application of the expression to someone who says something unusual or peculiar, or simply to an oddball-seeming individual? I don't assert that the history of this is easy to ferret out, but there must *be* some history. Does no one here have any ideas on what it is?

I had a feeling that there was some origin with a justification, just beyond my conscious mind. I have a gut intinct that the "live-one" is an unexploded bomb, but I can't get a handle as to why I think that.

Of course it could be a stupid line from a film like "Starship Troopers"!