Posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 05, 2006
In Reply to: "flat out" posted by R. Berg on March 04, 2006
: : : : strange that the writer of the page would use the term "flat out" when discribing "balls to the wall" yet leave us with no explanation for "flat out".
: : : I've removed that page now, as I can't substantiate that origin. Flat out just means, "as fast as (or with as much effort as) you can go".
: : I think it is a metaphor from a horse going at full gallop. The legs stretch out in front and behind at each pace, and the animal as a whole looks flatter and closer to the ground than when it is going at a gentle speed.
: Merry-go-round horses, yes, but not real horses. Eadweard Muybridge's photos showed that one foot is always on the ground. The phrase may nevertheless have originated that way. People *thought* a horse was airborne between steps.
I didn't mean to say that its legs all stretch out at once, only that they do reach further with each pace than at slower speeds. Similarly, the horse's body is not actually lower to the ground, it just appears to be so. (VSD)