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Brigadier Gerard

Posted by Henry on October 10, 2003

In Reply to: Jump the gun posted by ESC on October 10, 2003

: : Where does this come from?

: JUMP THE GUN -- ".an expression about 50 years old that derives from both foot racing and hunting. An anxious runner often jumps the gun, that is, starts before the starter fires his pistol in a track event, and a startled pheasant will frequently take flight before a hunter can fire his gun, both situations responsible for our figurative use of the phrase -- to begin something before preparations for it are complete." From "The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson, Page 285, (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

: When I posted before, someone said: Although the venerable Mr. Hendrickson is usually right on with his explanations, the second half of his explanation of the subject expression is WRONG! No ethical hunter would shoot a pheasant before it took flight, nor would that usually be possible, since a concealed bird is difficult to see. The whole idea of pheasant hunting is to flush the birds into flight so that they become visible and thus are available targets.

Have you read Brigadier Gerard by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Gerard found it easier to shoot birds as they roosted at night!