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Stick Your Neck Out

Posted by ESC on January 18, 2001

In Reply to: Sticking Your Neck Out posted by Btd on January 17, 2001

: : : What is this used for? I always thought it was putting yourself out for the possibility of getting into trouble.

: : Yes-doing something that puts you at risk of being criticized, for example.

: It does refer to risk and may have stemmed from turtles. When a turtle sticks its neck (and head)out, it becomes more vulnerable (in the open) to predators. But a turtle must leave the safe haven of its shell to eat and such. Which reminds me of another expression I've heard: "Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out."

Another theory:
STICK YOUR NECK OUT - "Take a risk; expose oneself to criticism. In the present form the saying originated as American slang some 60 years ago, probably based on the barnyard or backyard chicken that was laid on a chopping block with its neck stretched out and then beheaded with an ax. A closely related form goes back at least to Shakespeare's time. In 'Henry V' Fluellen, thinking the soldier Williams has done a traitorous thing, says, 'Let his neck answer for it.'" From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

And a memorable use of the phrase in the movie Casablanca...
Rick: I stick my neck out for nobody.
Louis: Wise foreign policy.