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Tail Between the Legs

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 07, 2006

In Reply to: Tail Between the Legs posted by RRC on April 06, 2006

: : : I need to find the orgin of these phrases:
: : : Tail Between the Legs
: : : It Will Be An Uphill Battle

: : - "Tail between the legs" describes the body language of a dog that has been defeated in an encounter with a stonger dog - it runs or slinks off with its tail between its legs. It is a very old metaphor, based on common observation, and there's no way of knowing who said it first.

: : - In pre-modern warfare, when armies fought hand-to-hand, you had an advantage if you could charge downhill at your enemy, as the slope would give your charge extra impetus. If on the other hand it was your enemy who was at the top of the hill, you had to "fight an uphill battle" which was much harder. Again, this is a common metaphor and nobody knows who first used it.

: It's also harder to shoot arrows, swing your sword, etc. with someone who's above you. With a sword, you have to swing up at an angle lifting the sword higher than you would if fighting on level ground. This requires more force to get the same strengh blow while your opponent gets to add the weight of the sword into his downward blow.

Just two small observations. Dogs don't have to be bested in an encounter to carry their tail between their legs. It is, indeed, body language, and can indicate also that the dog has the equivalent of a neurosis, or is in an intimidating (to him) environment. The other observation is that it requires not only strength to raise your sword or any other weapon above your shoulder or head, but also works the heart very hard to raise the blood in your system to the required height. SS