Posted by Bruce Kahl on September 06, 2000
In Reply to: Swinging the lead posted by Alastair on September 06, 2000
: Where does the phrase come from and how would you describe the meaning to someone?
Swinging the lead - A person pretending to work (or claiming to be ill) when he is not.
Pre-modern days, seamen would check the depth of water by dropping
a lead weight, attached to a thin marked rope, to the bottom of a
waterway. Some lazy sailors would take as long as possible about it.
They would swing the lead to and fro several times instead of just
dropping it straight into the water.