this expression means that to win at any costs, you have got to be willing to take chances, the biggest chance being the chance of losing. Is that correct?
But I don't understand how they arrived at this. If I read the expression in its literal form, then it doesn't make any sense.

Most of these sayings seem to have biblical origins, is that where most of our sayings originated?
I take it then that "swinging for the fences with someone else's bat and ball" is to win at any costs at someone else's expense?

Is there a voluminous collection of sayings one can refer to for the literal interpretation, the type of expression (for example, is the expression a saying? cliche? idiom? proverb? metaphot?)and most importantly, its hidden meaning. This would be useful for those who have never seen/heard these expressions and are not able to make sense of them at the outset, not even after having consulted a dictionary for the definition of each word.
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chuck wrote on 28 Sep 2004:
this expression means that to win at any costs,

That's "at any cost".
you have got to be willing to take chances, the biggest chance being the chance of losing. Is that correct? But I don't understand how they arrived at this. If I read the expression in its literal form, then it doesn't make any sense.

Swinging for the fences sounds like a baseball metaphor to me. Most managers like their hitters to come up with singles and boubles rather than having them try to hit home runs, which is what happens when you hit one over the fence.. One swings for the fences when one is behind. It's a desperation measure in baseball strategy.

The reason the biggest chance is losing is that the percentages are against lots of home runs in any given inning, and a solo home run is only a single RBI. If there are palyers on base, then a HR will produce two, three, or four RBIs.
Most of these sayings seem to have biblical origins, is that where most of our sayings originated? I take it then that "swinging for the fences with someone else's bat and ball" is to win at any costs at someone else's expense?

Sounds like it to me.
Is there a voluminous collection of sayings one can refer to for the literal interpretation, the type of expression (for ... make sense of them at the outset, not even after having consulted a dictionary for the definition of each word.

If you put the expression in a Google search window, you'll get some hits for it. These expressions are idioms, so a dictionary of idioms might have them, but I wouldn't count on it.

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this expression means that to win at any costs, you have got to be willing to take chances, the biggest ... how they arrived at this. If I read the expression in its literal form, then it doesn't make any sense.

It's from baseball, and it makes perfect sense, literally and figuratively. To swing for the fences means to attempt to hit a home run. Doing so involves taking a big swing that puts you at risk of striking out.
Most of these sayings seem to have biblical origins, is that where most of our sayings originated?

No, but that's one important origin. Note that many sayings that are from the Bible have roots that are still older.
I take it then that "swinging for the fences with someone else's bat and ball" is to win at any costs at someone else's expense?

Never heard it before, but that is a sensible interpretation.
Is there a voluminous collection of sayings one can refer to for the literal interpretation, the type of expression (for ... make sense of them at the outset, not even after having consulted a dictionary for the definition of each word.

Lots of them. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is fun, but it is just one of many.

Chris Green
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chuck wrote on 28 Sep 2004:

this expression means that to win at any costs,

That's "at any cost".

Thank you.
you have got to be willing to take chances, the ... in its literal form, then it doesn't make any sense.

Swinging for the fences sounds like a baseball metaphor to me. Most managers like their hitters to come up with ... one over the fence.. One swings for the fences when one is behind. It's a desperation measure in baseball strategy.

Thanks. It didn't even occur to me that it was swinging to hit one OVER the fence. I interpreted it literally as hitting at the fence. Woops.
The reason the biggest chance is losing is that the percentages are against lots of home runs in any given ... only a single RBI. If there are palyers on base, then a HR will produce two, three, or four RBIs.

Thank you!
Is there a voluminous collection of sayings one can refer ... having consulted a dictionary for the definition of each word.

If you put the expression in a Google search window, you'll get some hits for it. These expressions are idioms, so a dictionary of idioms might have them, but I wouldn't count on it.

Thank you, I found a dictionary of idioms, but as you suspected, no definition for "swinging for the fences".
Thank you for your help, it is appreciated.
this expression means that to win at any costs, you ... in its literal form, then it doesn't make any sense.

It's from baseball, and it makes perfect sense, literally and figuratively. To swing for the fences means to attempt to hit a home run. Doing so involves taking a big swing that puts you at risk of striking out.

Thank you for helping me understand.
It must be difficult to interpret the figurative meaning if you have never heard the idion before, or are most people able to do this? I don't think I can think figuratively, thereby making it easier to understand idioms that I have never heard of before. I have never heard of the idiom "swimging for the fences" and when I interpreted this literally, all I could imagine was someone trying to hit the fence, literally. It didn't even occur to me that they were trying to hit the ball over the fence. I interpreted "for the" as the bat being "directed at the fence" rather than the bat hitting the ball "in the direction of" and over the fence.
Is there a voluminous collection of sayings one can refer ... having consulted a dictionary for the definition of each word.

Lots of them. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is fun, but it is just one of many.

Thanks again, I have bookmarked this.
It must be difficult to interpret the figurative meaning if you have never heard the idion before, or are most people able to do this?

I doubt it. And it's not just a matter of language, or even culture. It goes right down to sub-culture. Every younger generation busies itself inventing idioms and slang usages that it's parents won't understand. Most such phrases die out within a decade if not within a few years, but some are so apt that they stay on and enter the language of the culture, and sometimes even the English language as a whole.
Thus it's possible to buy dictionaries of British colloquialisms, American colloquialisms, and even Canadian colloquialisms. A Canadian like myself will often understand an English turn of phrase that will mystify an American, and an American phrase that will confound a Brit, yet still be bewildered by a Quebec or Newfoundland saying that comes from a Canadian province!
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I disagree about there being an "at any cost" sense to the idiom. When you are swinging for the fences you are attempting to achieve a dramatic victory with a higher risk of failure. If, for example, a political candidate were to air an advertisement with a dramatic accusation about his opponent he would be metaphorically swinging for the fences: if the voters believe the accusation it could turn the election, but if they don't then the negativity of the ad could make it backfire.

"At any cost" suggests that you will do whatever it takes to achieve your goal, regardless of damage to either the principals or to bystanders. If a military unit is ordered to capture a hill at any cost this means they must continue to attack regardless of their own casualties or those of innocent civilians. Risk doesn't enter into "at any cost".
Richard R. Hershberger
this expression means that to win at any costs, you have got to be willing to take chances, the biggest ... make sense of them at the outset, not even after having consulted a dictionary for the definition of each word.

You have received many informative comments. See also any of the links shown at:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=%22swing+for+the+fences%22&meta =

and, more narrowly,
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=%22swing+for+the+fences%22+idiom&meta =

and perhaps,
http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=+dictionary&meta =

(although most of these sites require payment or are of no use)

aokay
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On 28 Sep 2004 09:24:37 GMT, CyberCypher
chuck wrote on 28 Sep 2004:

Not at all. "Swinging for the fences" simply means trying to hit the long ball or the home run as opposed to just trying to hit to get on base. It's not a desperation measure at all or even a strategy measure. Some players always swing for the fences. Barry Bonds, for example.
I take it then that "swinging for the fences with someone else's bat and ball" is to win at any costs at someone else's expense?

Sounds like it to me.

It means to try something bold without any risk. The owner of the bat and ball doesn't really lose anything, but the person swinging for the fence with someone else's bat and ball doesn't assume the risk of a low batting average. In this case, the low batting average is a metaphor for financial risk.
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