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Off pat & Off your own bat

Posted by James Briggs on June 06, 2001

In Reply to: Off pat & Off your own bat posted by R. Berg on June 06, 2001

: : Any ideas as to the origins of these?

: The alphabetical meanings-and-origins list on this website explains "on your Pat" as "on your own" (Cockney or Irish rhyming slang: "on your Pat Malone"). Maybe our British friends can tell us whether "off pat" is related. The Oxford Engl. Dict. traces "off his own bat" to cricket: "in reference to the score made by a player's own hits" and, figuratively, "solely by his own exertions, by himself."

To have something off pat is to have it exactly right. The saying has been in use since the 17th century but its precise origin is not altogether clear. The best suggestion is that it is derived from the sense of the word a "light touch". If something only needs a light touch to get it right then it must be almost perfect. Not very convincing I'm afraid, but it's all that I could find. "Pat", in my 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, meant "apposite, or to the purpose".

"Off his own bat" could well have a cricket origin, and the phrase is certainly used in the sense quoted above.