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NAUTICAL SAYINGS CUT ME SOME SLACK

Monday May 18th, 2009
ImageGIVE ME SOME SLACK
Still very much in use today and probably thought by most people as being relatively modern in origin, the phrase ‘give me some slack’ or ‘cut me some slack’ (meaning make allowances to complete something) is actually hundreds of years old. Tying a ship to a pier was no easy feat and took two teams of men armed with mooring lines. As one line was pulled to haul the ship closer the other line was released or ‘given slack’. The process would go on until the ship was properly aligned.
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Comments (2)
09/07/2013 @ 8:51 pm
Steve Paliwoda
I personally believe that the phrase "Cut me some slack" is a simply bastardization of the original phras,e "Give me some slack", just as the current nautical term "foc'sle" is a bastadization of the approximately 12th or 13th century nautical term "fore castle" -- which refered literally to construction of small castles on the prows English and French warwhips. Over the years crews of sailing ships (who were multinational -- with many not speaking English) mimicked and slurred the word "fore castle" such that it came to sound like "foc'sle", and was eventually spelled that way centuries later by literate persons attempting to spell out what they heard sailors say. Getting back to "Cut me some slack": If one pronounces that phrase quickly and slurs one's words slightly, it is easy to imagine "Give me some slack" could morph into "Cut me some slack". The phrase "give me some slack" is used in many situations today, where rope is used by two people, whereby one person, finding that he has not enough rope to accomplish a task calls out to his partner, who has control of the amount of rope to be dispensed, to slacken the tautness of the rope so that the person having control of the working end of the rope can use the increased pliability of the rope to accomplish whatever he/she if trying to do with it.
11/04/2011 @ 10:57 pm
Alex
The question was asked in music class for extra credit... now i'll get candy. Thank you.
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