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Up the pole

Posted by James Briggs on August 01, 2006

In Reply to: Up the pole posted by ESC on July 31, 2006

: : I've never really found a satisfactory origin of this mainly UK, Oz and NZ expression. It implies that someone is a bit mad/eccentric.
: : Personally, I feel it comes from the 1920s fashion of pole sitting; those that undertook this 'pastime' must have been a bit weird. However I've just been sent a 'I was told' type origin suggesting that it came from old fashioned mental institutions. I'm not convinced.
: : I can't find anything really reliable on the Net. Any ideas? - it's not in our archive.

: UP THE POKE/POLE/SPOUT/STICK -- "adj., British. pregnant. These expressions are in mainly working-class use. They are all vulgar, simultaneously evoking the male and female sex organs and the idea of a baby being lodged or jammed. They can describe either the act of conception, as in 'he's put her up the stick' or the condition, as in 'she's up the stick again.'" From "Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990).

: I think that's pretty clear. (Smile.)

Thanks for the link, but it doesn't cover the other, common use, of the phrase, which implies a touch of madness and is usually applied to men. If someone behaves eccentrically, then an observer may well say "he's up the pole" - no implication of pregnancy here!! The expression is a bit outdated now, but not dead.
Personally, Ive never heard the phrase used in the pregnacy sense. "Up the spout/stick" is common, but "pole", no.
Thus, Tony Thorn has missed a trick here.

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