Posted by Victoria S Dennis on August 12, 2005
In Reply to: Not everybody knows posted by Shae on August 11, 2005
: : : : : "Another string to your/his/her bow."
: : : : : Of course, everyone knows what this phrase means.
: : : : : But does anyone know what type of bow is referred to? ^ and why?
: : : : : Thanks
: : : : I for one never heard it before. What does it mean?
: : :
: : : If you have "more than one string to your bow" you have more than one skill or qualification, so that if your first one fails you, you can make use of the other. The bow is the kind you shoot arrows from; the metaphor simply means that you have a spare bowstring, so even if the first one breaks you have one in reserve and can still shoot your bow.
: : I've heard "more arrows in your quiver," but this is new to me. Is it strictly UK?
: It's used here in Ireland in the sense explained by Victoria. Sometimes (here, at least) it can also mean that the person refered to has a dalliance with a third party.
I had innocently assumed that this phrase was notoriously known throughout the universal world, and I'm amazed to learn from Bob that it isn't current in the USA. Conversely, I have never heard "more arrows in one's quiver"! Well, well.
The earliest use of "two strings to my bow" that I know of is by Henry Fielding, 1707-54, and from the way he used it, it sounds as though it was a proverbial phrase even then. I suspect that it goes right back to the age of the longbow. (VSD)