Posted by Abe on December 31, 2003
In Reply to: Archives on pear-shaped posted by Rudy on December 30, 2003
: : : : : "When things go pear-shaped" apparently means something goes wrong or turns out in some unexpected way. Google has only a few hundred hits. Cecking several it seems to be used in many contexts; software, soccar and the spiritual life.
: : : : : Any thoughts on when, where or why "when things go pear-shaped" originated.
: The expression is indeed British. When I lived there, the blokes would say that a woman's body becomes "pear shaped" after marriage, meaning that as women age, their hips and lower body become bigger such that the woman's body resembles a pear. During courtship and prior to marriage, men were not expecting this transformation.
The woman's body explaination sounds like something that would enter the language in a variety of contexts. The airplane explaination sounds like something hard to propagate into the language. Whom, except someone who has seen an airplane spiraling downward would understand the expression?