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The meaning and origin of the expression: Dash to pieces

Dash to pieces

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Dash to pieces'?

Break into fragments.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Dash to pieces'?

The meaning and origin of the phrase 'Dash to pieces'Many English phrases are found first in either the Bible or the works of Shakespeare. 'Dash to pieces' appears to be a close run race between the two. The Coverdale Bible, 1535, in Psalms 2.9, has:

Thou shalt rule them with a rodde of yron, and breake them in peces like an erthen vessell.

'Dash' was a commonly used verb in the 16th century meaning variously 'crash up against', as in raining splashing against a window, or 'destroy utterly'. Shakespeare brought both meanings together in the first known usage of 'dash to pieces', in The Tempest, 1610:

A brave vessel, who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her, dash'd all to pieces.

The biblical scholars who in 1610 were working on the King James Bible (1611) converted Coverdale's 'breake them in peces' to 'dash them in pieces':

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

There may yet be a steward's enquiry but this one does seem to be 'coined by Shakespeare' - by a nose.

Incidentally, the 'splattering of rain' meaning of dash is also the origin of the term dashboard, which was originally the frontice board of a carriage, placed there to stop mud and rain splashing the occupants.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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