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Pull out all the stops

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 19, 2006

In Reply to: Pull out all the stops posted by juliet on June 19, 2006

: Where does the saying "pull out all the stops" original come from and what is the meaning behind it?

I like the easy ones. A pipe organ is a large series of ranks of pipes, each rank being shaped to produce sounds with certain properties, whenever wind is caused to blow through them. All this is controlled from a console consisting of a set of keyboards and a pedalboard, on older organs, a number of what look like oversize buttons that you push in or pull out (as on some washing machines), These are the "stops," which either stop the air or allow it to pass. When you pull out all the stops you activate every rank of pipes on the organ--you get from the organ everything it has to offer.

On newer organs the valves are operated sometimes by much smaller buttons, sometimes by levers that you push down or up, similar to the keys, but colored red or black, and without springs that cause them to come back up automatically. You still call them "stops," however, as they still either stop the flow of wind, or permit it. Activating a "stop" actually unstops it, as you may already know.

I hope this explains pulling out all the stops. SS

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