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Pulling on the same oar

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 16, 2007

In Reply to: Pulling on the same oar posted by Fred on June 07, 2007

: Does anyone know the meaning of the phrase "everyone pulling on the same oar"? The context that I've known it to be used is that everyone need to work together towards a common goal. The argument can be made is that in that context, if everyone pulled on the same oar you would go around is circles :)

If you have correctly interpreted the context in which you saw this phrase, then you have to wonder about the acumen of whoever used the phrase that way. You are quite right; everyone pulling on the same oar would be an exercise in uselessness. I've never seen the phrase, but if it exists, it has to mean what you suggest, that is, a waste of muscle and manpower.

Two people pulling on the same oar is another story. If I remember my Roman history (which is unlikely), one or more rows of oarsmen in a galley might have two men to an oar, the oars being very long and heavy.