phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"thump your chest"

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 17, 2005

In Reply to: "thump your chest" posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 17, 2005

: : : : : : What does "thump your chest" mean?
: : : : : : e.g. It may be smart to thump your chest and critize your friend.

: : : : : Actually, it may be *hypocritical* to thump your chest while criticizing your friend. In the old days (pre-1965 or so), when Roman Catholic Mass was in L@tin, the congregation would say together "Mea cula, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa", while striking the chest three times. The phrase means roughly "I have sinned, I have sinned, I have sinned terribly".

: : : : Culpa means fault, guilt or blame, as in culpability or exculpate.

: : : : So mea culpa is "my fault, my fault, my most horrendous fault".

: : : : You are always at fault in Catholicism, the result of being born into sin and they ( top management ) don't let you forget it.

: : : I think of that stuff as "breast-beating." I thnk of "Chest thumping," on the other fist, as the stuff that apes (and, um, Tarzan) do to bellow in a testosterone-soaked intimidation ritual. Self-assertion on steroids.

: : Why does Bob always have to be right? Anyway, he is this time. Breast-beating is a variety of the self-flagellating that used to be so popular among the devout. But I can't agree with Bob's implicit scorn for chest-thumping. For apes (and Tarzan) it's probably an important tool in the effort to assert dominanced, and thus establish some kind of order in the tribe--and perhaps help catch girls. Every
: : species has its version of chest-thumping, not excepting ours. SS

: Well, at least my hunch was right that it's not "smart", at least in a non-ironic sense. Here's the quote the original poster is referring to, from a speech given by U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Wilkins, criticizing Prime Minister Paul Martin's criticism of the U.S.:

: '"It may be smart election-year politics to thump your chest and criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner constantly," Wilkins said in a speech to the Canadian Club at the historic Chateau Laurier Hotel, next door to Parliament Hill.'

I have recently heard that male gorillas tend to thump their chests not only to assert dominance, but whenever they get excited. Making noise is also what human males do when they get excited, as in watching an exciting game of whatever, or an exciting contest of any kind involving action, such as a wet tee-shirt contest. SS