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"take the high road"

Posted by ESC on April 14, 2006

In Reply to: "Take the high road" posted by Larry on April 13, 2006

: Does anyone have any ideas on the origin of the phrase "take the high road"?

Here is information from the archives. Seems to me like we had a discussion about the difference in meaning in British and American English.

HIGH ROAD, LOW ROAD - rational approach versus emotional appeal; sticking to the issues versus going for the jugular; Marquis of Queensberry rules versus no-holds-barred. The phrase became popular in the presidential campaign of 1948, when Republican Thomas E. Dewey selected 'the high road' and let voters draw their own conclusions as to what road President Harry Truman was trudging.Derivation: a 'high road' or 'high way' is the easy way in English usage. In London today the 'high streets' are the main traffic arteries. However the takes of low roads can sometimes make better time, as the balladeer in 'Lock Lomond' indicates: 'O ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afore ye.'" From Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).