Posted by James Briggs on May 11, 2000

In Reply to: Pear-shaped posted by Fiona Hunter on May 11, 2000

: Why do we say "it's all gone pear-shaped"? When did this phrase come into common usage?

To go pear shaped is an expression used to indicate that a scheme has not been perfectly executed. The phrase seems to have originated in British English in the late 1940s or early 1950s. I have come across several suggested origins, but the best, for me, is related to training aircraft pilots. At some stage they are encouraged to try to fly loops - very difficult to make perfectly circular; often the trainee pilot's loops would go pear shaped.