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Thread: Pull a chain

  1. #1
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    Pull a chain

    He is not a basher. He does like to pull a chain every once in a while, but don't we all...
    It's not hard to guess the meaning, but where does the expression come from? Is it common? AE/BE ?

    FRC

  2. #2
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Pull a chain

    All I was able to find was the notion of a captive animal. I suppose we are in charge by holding on to the chain and therefore manipulating the animal, telling it what to do....?

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Pull a chain

    I thought it came from old style toilets.

  4. #4
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Pull a chain

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I thought it came from old style toilets.
    I read that one too somewhere but the more I read the more confused I am. In fact, it sounds to me the phrase has more than one meaning.
    Francois, did you mean to pull a chain or pull one's chain. To me to pull a chain means just that...pulling of the chain. Nothing more than that.
    If you say to pull someone's chain, my first reaction is someone wants to "rattle your cage", really get you going in other words. I also found out that to pull one's chain can mean to ask for someone's opinion.
    The toilet idea sounds very good. You pull on the chain and all the information comes pouring down...what do you think? Far fetched?...maybe... but it works!

  5. #5
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    Re: Pull a chain

    The quote is a copy&paste from an American native speaker. The speaker is 40+, so this is not new fancy slang
    This may be related to the toilet idea indeed -- in a nutshell, a first guy showed off and had been aggressive w/ other posters, when a second guy put things into perspective and made some real mild sarcasms. The 1st guy called the 2nd one's name, then a 3rd guy wrote what I've quoted. Thus, the chain pulling may refer to someone flushing the toilet to get rid of the trash (talk), or to put someone who has been boasting in his place.

    FRC

  6. #6
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Pull a chain

    I think I have figured it out. I hope...

    Jonathon Green's slang dictionary says that pull the chain! when used as exclamation means to shut up, stop spewing garbage, more like "put a sock in it", "cork it!", "put a lid on it", "just be quiet".
    Within your context I think it seems to make sense.

  7. #7
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    Re: Pull a chain

    Yup, you got it I suppose.
    Thanks,

    FRC

  8. #8
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Pull a chain

    You are welcome!

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Pull a chain

    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie27
    I think I have figured it out. I hope...

    Jonathon Green's slang dictionary says that pull the chain! when used as exclamation means to shut up, stop spewing garbage, more like "put a sock in it", "cork it!", "put a lid on it", "just be quiet".
    Within your context I think it seems to make sense.
    You could still relate that one to the loo as chain-pulling signifies the end.

  10. #10
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Pull a chain

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    You could still relate that one to the loo as chain-pulling signifies the end.
    That's right Tdol, the lav chain theory works great here ... the end of someone's "crap" or BS, to be exact.

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