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The short end of the stick

Posted by David FG on September 12, 2010 at 07:19

In Reply to: The short end of the stick posted by Chris Madden on September 11, 2010 at 13:08:

: Regarding the saying that one is disadvantaged by getting "The short end of the stick." I have always thought that it is a result of a muddling of the phrases "the short straw or the short stick" with the phrase "the thick end of the stick". You see; when two men were carrying logs of timber picking up the thicker end was a great disadvantage so it became common to say "I got the thick end of the stick" then in any situation of disadvantage,one would say "I got the thick end of the stick". In time people with no knowledge of the origin mixed the words using "short" instead of "thick". Is that possible?

I don't know about your specific question, but I am a little confused about why it is a great disadvantage to pick up the 'thick end' of a log: if one end is so markedly different from the other, then avoiding it would be easy, surely? And by the nature of timber, the taper is such that for there to be any really significant difference between one end and the other, the 'log' would have to be immensely long I would have thought.

I am perfectly prepared to be proven completely wrong in this - a common occurrence, I fear.