Idiom: touch and go

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Sathyaish:
The idiom "touch and go" sounds like it refers to an occurance, the effect of which is not lasting, but is transient and passe. However, the meaning of the idiom, as described in the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, seems to be quite in disagreement with my understanding. I find it rather confusing that the usage has been ascribed to a thing marked by uncertainty and peril.

http://www.bartleby.com/59/4/touchandgo.html
How did the idiom come to parlance?
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Alan Crozier:
[nq:1]The idiom "touch and go" sounds like it refers to an occurance, the effect of which is not lasting, but ... usage has been ascribed to a thing marked by uncertainty and peril. http://www.bartleby.com/59/4/touchandgo.html How did the idiom come to parlance?[/nq]
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines it as "a very narrow escape" and says that it perhaps derives from driving, when the wheel of one vehicle touches that of another passing vehicle without doing mischief. "It was a touch, but neither vehicle was stopped, each could go on." The definition is correct. As for the origin, that explanation is plausible enough, but we don't know
Alan

Alan Crozier
Lund
Sweden
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david56:
Alan Crozier typed thus:
[nq:2]The idiom "touch and go" sounds like it refers to ... and peril. http://www.bartleby.com/59/4/touchandgo.html How did the idiom come to parlance?[/nq]
[nq:1]Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines it as "a very narrow escape" and says that it perhaps derives from ... could go on." The definition is correct. As for the origin, that explanation is plausible enough, but we don't know[/nq]
I don't use this as "a narrow escape". To me, it describes that an unwanted outcome is as likely as not.
As the Reverend Eli Jenkins has it, in his evening prayer (from memory):
And every evening at sundown
I ask a blessing on the town.
For whether we last the night or no
I'm sure is always touch and go.
The majority of online sources suggest that it's a sailing metaphor, arising from running your boat lightly aground and immediately getting free again. This chimes with the narrow escape meaning, but I don't see how it relates to my understanding of the meaning. And as a sailor for 35 years, I've run around many a time but have never heard the phrase used in this context.

David
==
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Alan Crozier:
[nq:1]Alan Crozier typed thus:[/nq]
[nq:2]Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines it as "a ... origin, that explanation is plausible enough, but we don't know[/nq]
[nq:1]I don't use this as "a narrow escape". To me, it describes that an unwanted outcome is as likely as not.[/nq]
To me too, now that you mention it, and to the Concise Oxford: "uncertain regarding a result, risky"

Alan Crozier
Lund
Sweden
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Robert Bannister:
[nq:1]Alan Crozier typed thus:[/nq]
[nq:2]Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines it as "a ... origin, that explanation is plausible enough, but we don't know[/nq]
[nq:1]I don't use this as "a narrow escape". To me, it describes that an unwanted outcome is as likely as ... sailor for 35 years, I've run around many a time but have never heard the phrase used in this context.[/nq]
I like neither "narrow escape" nor "unwanted outcome". I prefer "iffy".

Rob Bannister
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Maria Conlon:
[nq:1]And as a sailor for 35 years, I've run around many a time [/nq]
And had a girl in every port?
Maria Conlon
Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat, toy boat, toy boat.
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A Gwilliam:
[nq:1]I like neither "narrow escape" nor "unwanted outcome". I prefer "iffy".[/nq]
I was going to suggest that too. I managed to confuse myself however because it also means "dodgy".
I guess this now means I've posted my first "me too".

Andrew Gw.
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david56:
Maria Conlon typed thus:
[nq:2]And as a sailor for 35 years, I've run around many a time [/nq]
[nq:1]And had a girl in every port?[/nq]
Aground, around. Around, aground. Makes no never mind.

David
==
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Tony Cooper:
[nq:1]The majority of online sources suggest that it's a sailing metaphor, arising from running your boat lightly aground and immediately ... sailor for 35 years, I've run around many a time but have never heard the phrase used in this context.[/nq]
It's a common phrase for people who take flying lessons. Doing a "touch and go" means bringing the plane in for a landing, touching the wheels down, but immediately powering up and taking off again. Pilots-in-training do hours of them.
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