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"bow and scrape"

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on August 12, 2005

In Reply to: "Bow and scrape" posted by Ian on August 12, 2005

: Can anyone tell me the origin of "bow and scrape." Google came up with a reference in Shakespeare's Henry V. Could the phrase have marine or musical origins?

Neither nor. "Bow" here rhymes with "cow" and means "to bend at the waist" (not "something to play the violin with" or "front end of a boat"). "Scrape" here means to drag the foot along the ground when making the elaborate sort of old-fashioned bow that involves pointing one foot backwards. Thus "to bow and scrape" means "to be elaborately deferential".

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