Drop the pilot

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on May 10, 2007

In Reply to: Drop the pilot posted by Sanja Marinov on May 10, 2007

: What is the exact meaning of the expression "drop the pilot"? I have actually found an explanation of its etymology on the Net but I would like to have more some more accurate explanations and examples of its usage.

Well, the original use of the phrase as a metaphor comes from a cartoon in the satirical magazine "Punch" by Sir John Tenniel commenting on the young Kaiser Wilhelm II's sacking in 1890 of the old Chancellor Bismarck (you can see it here: en.wikipedia.org/ .../Otto_von_Bismarck). "Pilot" here is used in the sailing, not the flying sense; when navigating a dangerous stretch of inland water the captain of a ship will hire a local pilot who knows the area well to guide him, but as soon as he gets to open water he drops the pilot and carries on by himself. Tenniel's meaning was that the young Kaiser felt he was now quite capable of steering the ship of state by himself and no longer needed the older man's advice. The phrase can be applied to any situation where someone feels he knows enough to manage by himself and can discard his mentor. (VSD)