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The fat is in the fire

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 20, 2007

In Reply to: The fat is in the fire posted by Cathy on November 20, 2007

: I need to know the origin and original meaning and the source of the phrase, "The fat is in the fire".

The origin is doubtless some person's observation of what happens when fat is put into a fire. Here is what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say:

" (all) the fat is in the fire: in early use expressing that a design has irremediably failed; now used when some injudicious act has been committed that is sure to provoke a violent explosion of anger.

"[Examples:]1562 J. HEYWOOD Prov. & Epigr. 6 Than farewell riches, the fat is in the fire. . . 1644 ORMONDE Let. in Carte Life III. 281, I hear nothing of the armes, ammunition or provisions, without all which all the fat is in the fire. 1797 WOLCOTT (P. Pindar) Livery of London Wks. 1812 III. 449 Should we once complain The fat will all be in the fire. 1850 CARLYLE Latter-d. Pamph. iv. 4 The fat in the fire will be a thing worth looking at."