phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Runs people up the flagpole

Posted by Pamela on May 27, 2006

In Reply to: Runs people up the flagpole posted by ESC on May 26, 2006

: : : : Two people at work have said that our boss "runs people up the flagpole" but I don't know what this phrase means. Can anybody help me?

: : : The version I've heard is "Run him up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes". I'm not sure what it means either ... Pamela

: : It was originally (and usually still is) an idea that is run up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. By that is meant, of course, you put the idea out and see what response it gets. (Nowadays they have formalized that in "focus groups".) Presumably running a person up the flagpole is a somewhat catch-as-catch-can, and possibly inhumane, way of giving job aspirants a try-out. How it is specifically done is not obvious from the phrase itself, but from the phrasing of the question I gather that it's not nice. SS

: The normal thing would be to "run IT up the flagpole and see who salutes." Trying out a new idea, program, etc. I guess a really tough boss might run a person up a flagpole.

If you google "run him up the flagpole" you'll see that it's quite common to use it in respect to a person. The substitution of "him" for the more usual "it" is what confuses the meaning for me. Pamela