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Butt in a sling

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 22, 2008 at 15:36:

In Reply to: Butt in a sling posted by Lisa Kuczmarski on March 20, 2008 at 10:05:

: "I don't want to get my butt in a sling" come from?

Most immediately it comes from "ass in a sling," as in "Watch what you say, or I'll put your a s s in a sling." This in turn comes from the modern tendency to substitute the a s s for any other body part, for presumed emphasis. Putting your a s s in a sling is a sort of substitute for "break your ass." If I break your arm, it'll be put in a sling. So despite the mechanical difficulties of putting anyone's a s s in a sling, it has come to be used as part of an emphatic warning. In the quoted phrase, it means, obviously, I don't want to put myself in danger of severe punishment. The phrase can be used in the extended sense of non-physical punishment. But the literal sense is an impossible condition, so it has be taken figuratively.