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Give him an inch & he'll take a mile

Posted by ESC on October 15, 2003

In Reply to: Give him an inch & he'll take a mile & Overstepping your bounds posted by ESC on October 15, 2003

: : My 10 year-old stepdaughter, Lara was telling me about a friend of hers who had overstepped her bounds. I said to her 'yes well she's always like that, give her an inch and she'll take a mile'. Now you American's won't have this problem, but we in Australian changed to metric (frankly I can't remember exactly when, some time in the 70s I think, but long before Lara was born).

: : Consequently, she asked me what that meant. She knew ABOUT imperial measurements, but because she hadn't grown up with them, really wasn't familiar with the saying.

: : Well, we all know what it means, but does anyone know its origins.

: : And while I'm at it, does the term 'overstepping one's bounds' originate from sport, or some issue over real estate or something else????

: Related phrase:

: OUT OF BOUNDS - "Unfair, prohibited, forbidden. The bounds in this expression allude to the boundaries of the playing area in numerous sports, and by extension the rules that apply to them.The term has been around since the early 19th century and began to be transferred to other kins of prohibition by the 1940s." From "Southpaws & Sunday Punches and other Sporting Expressions" by Christine Ammer (Penguin Books, New York, 1993).

GIVE HIM AN INCH, AND HE WILL TAKE A MILE - "Some people are never pleased with what they are given - they demand more and more. The proverb is first found in English in John Heywood's 1546 book of proverbs. First attested in the United States in 'Letters of John Randolph' ." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).