phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Pull your finger out

Posted by David FG on March 25, 2006

In Reply to: Pull your finger out posted by R. Berg on March 25, 2006

: : : : Does anyone know where the phrase "pull your finger out" came from?
: : : : I've got a nice idea that it came from a finger trap but it would be nice if it was true.

: : :
: : : I've never heard that phrase used other than literally. Yes, I know I'm very naive, but what is the meaning you have in mind? Or perhaps someone else can enlighten me. SS

: : It's a really long stretch, but could this be a metaphorical reference to the story of Hans Brinker, the Dutch boy who stopped a leak in the dyke by putting his finger in the hole? ?SS?

: Smokey, I think you want the other spelling: "dike." And, no, the slang phrase alludes to a hole, all right, but an anatomical one.

I am relying on memory here, so the details are probably a bit hazy, but I seem to remember a few years ago this phrase was heavily criticized on the BBC for being 'sexist' - due to its supposed sexual origin (as alluded to above). I have serious doubts about this: it strikes me that there are more likely activities involving fingers that would prevent one working than their deployment in an orifice.

(How's that for pre-watershed circumlocution?)