The phrase "soft underbelly" has always meant, to me, the most vulnerable part of a quadruped.
That is the part a bull tries to gore as in
The picadors of course
Each one on his horse
I shouted "Olé!"
Each time one got gored.
And D.H. Hemingway or Ernest Lawrence ro someone described a gored horse with its guts falling out of a hole in said soft underbelly.

And I seem to remember Churchill speaking metaphorically about "the soft underbelly of Europe" referring to plans to invade Italy, or was it Gallipoli? If the latter, it proved harder than he thought.
But in the last couple of weeks I've been reading blurbs on books saying that they are about the (soft) underbelly of some or other city, and the metaphor seems mixed and rather puzzling.
Does this word now have a special meaning to blurbwriters, and have they got together in a conspiracy to all start using it at once?

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
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The phrase "soft underbelly" has always meant, to me, the most vulnerable part of a quadruped. That is the part ... a special meaning to blurbwriters, and have they got together in a conspiracy to all start using it at once?

It has become a cliche. It may hold the record for the fastest transition from coinage to cliche. The earliest OED cite is from 1949. 'Underbelly' toot caught has a cite from 1607 for a pouch under the belly of an animal and then we jump to Churchill in 1942 with "exposure of the under-belly of the Axis".
"soft underbelly" also seems tautologous - unless anyone knows of a creature with a hard underbelly?
Presumably Churchill graduated from "under-belly" to "soft underbelly" as part of his desire to create a cliche wrapped in a hyperbole inside a synecdoche.

John Dean
Oxford
And I seem to remember Churchill speaking metaphorically about "the soft underbelly of Europe" referring to plans to invade Italy, or was it Gallipoli? If the latter, it proved harder than he thought.

It was Italy, and this also proved harder than he thought.
Mark Brader, Toronto "History will be kind to me, for I intend (Email Removed) to write it." Churchill
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The phrase "soft underbelly" has always meant, to me, the ... in a conspiracy to all start using it at once?

It has become a cliche. It may hold the record for the fastest transition from coinage to cliche. The earliest ... belly of an animal and then we jump to Churchill in 1942 with "exposure of the under-belly of the Axis".

Where did you get that reference work?
"soft underbelly" also seems tautologous - unless anyone knows of a creature with a hard underbelly? Presumably Churchill graduated from "under-belly" to "soft underbelly" as part of his desire to create a cliche wrapped in a hyperbole inside a synecdoche.

john
And "Achilles' heel" was already trite.
John Dean filted:
It has become a cliche. It may hold the record for the fastest transition from coinage to cliche. The earliest ... under-belly of the Axis". "soft underbelly" also seems tautologous - unless anyone knows of a creature with a hard underbelly?

Or for that matter, is any creature prone to have an overbelly?...r
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John Dean filted:

It has become a cliche. It may hold the record ... unless anyone knows of a creature with a hard underbelly?

Or for that matter, is any creature prone to have an overbelly?...r

No, but when she's rubbing her back my kitty is supine to.

john
It has become a cliche. It may hold the record ... in 1942 with "exposure of the under-belly of the Axis".

Where did you get that reference work?

And why did you need to quote the entire post to ask a question on one paragraph of it?
Where did you get that reference work?

And why did you need to quote the entire post to ask a question on one paragraph of it?

Oh, Paul! You're so strict!

john
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