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Make a rod for your own back

Posted by NeilB on April 14, 2001

In Reply to: Make a rod for your own back posted by R. Berg on April 13, 2001

: : : Someone asked about the meaning of the above phrase. I've done some research but can't find the meaning or etymology. Any help with this would be appreciated as I will have to invent my own meaning for it anytime soon.

: : Your phrase usually is said as an exhortation or warning as in:

: : "Dont make a rod for your own back by lying on the job application that you know Excel 'cause your lie will come back to haunt you."

: : The etymology?
: : I dont know.

: Does it refer to cutting a switch for someone to whip you with?

I believe the phrase comes from the good old Victorians. In those years deportment was very important
and a straight back fundamental to this. So a rod or board would be strapped to the back to encourage
the miscreant to stand up straight and not slouch. So 'to make a rod for your own back' would be to make
your own problems or suffer because of your own doings.