phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"A cock up", "balls up"

Posted by Lewis on June 19, 2006

In Reply to: "A cock up", "balls up" posted by David FG on June 18, 2006

: : : [email protected]

: : : question: "A cock up"
: : : I have looked at earlier discussion and none sounds as convincing as that told to me long ago by a farmer. It lacks any sexual connotation.
: : : If at harvest time a farmer miscalcilates the weather and harvests when it is wet - the resulting hay will be spoilt and will need to be put into hay cocks to dry out - I e " cocked up". It would then be said of the farmer that he "cocked it up" -ie got it wrong - or it was "a cock up". Incidentally "balls up" is another perfectly innocent expression of naval/nautical origin described to me by a retired admiral and apparently refers to the balls at the top of the rigging. other nautically minded readers will know more details.

: : So ... do you find these stories "more convincing" BECAUSE they lack a sexual connotation? We should weigh that bias when considering your submission.

: But this doesn't explain why (it strikes me)almost any expletive can be followed by the word 'up' in English and mean roughly the same thing. Just as following them by 'off' means 'go away'. The exact word used is to some extent irrelevant.


perhaps, to be coarse, it was short for 'cock up the wrong hole'. a mistake that somebody reacts to?
I also thought "balls-up" was similarly named after careless positioning. if the angle is wrong and somebody is over-enthusiastic...

no need for a diagram.

anyhow, I thuoght they were both crude and literal.