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Putting your feet to the fire

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 26, 2008 at 05:22

In Reply to: Putting your feet to the fire posted by ESC on July 25, 2008 at 07:37:

: : What is the origin of the phrase "Putting your feet to the fire"?

: I am guessing that at one point, when people used open flames or a stove for heat, it was literal. Holding someone's feet to the fire was a way of making them do or not do something.

THe way I have heard it used is this. When someone has made a promise or has a duty to do something, particularly someone in authority, holding his feet to the fire means keeping him from weaseling out by continually reminding him of what is expected of him, especially publicly. It is used figuratively, of course, It's hard to forget your promises when someone is holding a figurative match or flame to your feet.

I've never heard putting, always holding.