The lurch, what is it but a place to be left?

Posted by Gary on November 30, 2004

In Reply to: The lurch, what is it but a place to be left? posted by Keith Rennie on November 30, 2004

: I am always intrigued by words and phrases that have been reduced (apparently) to one solitary function. Like "the lurch" (n, preceded by definite article). Apart from being left in one, what is it, where did it come from, who discovered it, where can I find one, and what else was it good for in days gone by? Why does it never get full? CAn you reclaim "left" things from it, as in Lost and Found?
: I'm off to bed now, and will check in tomorrow to see what bright ideas you wonderful people have.

The OED says a lurch in that "left in the lurch" context originated in the 16th century from the French word lourche. This is a game somewhat like backgammon. They don't explain why leaving someone there would be a bad thing.

You might enjoy the catechism of cliche in "The Best of Myles" by Flann O'Brien (aka Brian O'Nolan aka Myles na gCopaleen). He had an ear for words that are lazily used together for no good reason that is unsurpassed (or should I say remains unsurpassed - what else is there for an unsurpass to do other than remain?).