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  1. yuriya's Avatar
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    #1

    Smile right down the pike

    Too late. The elevator door slid shut. We missed it. A second later the nasty gangster appeared at the far end of the corridor. I guess it did matter if he heard us. We were now staring right down the pike at the worst case scenario.
    Please help me with the last sentence above. "Right down the pike", what does it mean here? Thanks in advance!


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    #2

    Re: right down the pike

    There is always a lot of confusion about this expression. A pike is an old weapon like a spear with an axehead on it so I think the original idea meant that you were at the sharp end of an ugly stiuation. The modern equivalent of staring down the barrel.
    Pike is also an american word for a type road and I think that caused confusion along with the fact that the expression is often used to mean coming 'down the pipeline' (in fact I've heard some americans interchange 'down the pike' and 'down the pipe')

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    #3

    Re: right down the pike

    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishMuffin View Post
    There is always a lot of confusion about this expression.
    'Always'? Not here - I've never heard it before! I mean 'pike', sure, but 'right down the pike'? Uh-uh, never! But it sounds similar in meaning here to 'right down the barrel', doesn't it?


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    #4

    Re: right down the pike

    Not heard 'down the pike'? You need to get out more bertie!
    Maybe I overstated the amount of confusion. I meant that I have often heard people confused by this expression. Actually if you google 'down the pike' you will see that this confusion is widespread.
    I'm guessing it's another one of those cases where an expression evolves as it crosses cultures. Like Americans saying 'I could care less' where a Brit would say 'couldn't'. So when an unfamiliar phrase about an old european weapon came into a culture that used the same word to mean road, they assumed that it meant coming down the road (or pipeline).
    I don't know this for a fact though.

  2. yuriya's Avatar
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    #5

    Smile Re: right down the pike

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    'Always'? Not here - I've never heard it before! I mean 'pike', sure, but 'right down the pike'? Uh-uh, never! But it sounds similar in meaning here to 'right down the barrel', doesn't it?
    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishMuffin View Post
    Not heard 'down the pike'? You need to get out more bertie!
    Maybe I overstated the amount of confusion. I meant that I have often heard people confused by this expression. Actually if you google 'down the pike' you will see that this confusion is widespread.
    I'm guessing it's another one of those cases where an expression evolves as it crosses cultures. Like Americans saying 'I could care less' where a Brit would say 'couldn't'. So when an unfamiliar phrase about an old european weapon came into a culture that used the same word to mean road, they assumed that it meant coming down the road (or pipeline).
    I don't know this for a fact though.
    The sentence above certainly makes more sense with the meaning of "down the barrel". And I tried googling like EnglishMuffin suggested and the results are a little confusing indeed. Maybe I didn't try hard enough but I just can't find anything where "down the pike" is used in the sense of "down the barrel", which is, I assume, why Bertie says he never heard of it.

    It's also kind of ironic to me because this expression is supposed to be coming out of the mouth of American boy (from Connecticut), where the expression seems to be mostly used in the sense of "down the road", or "down the pipe". Coming Down the Pike


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    #6

    Re: right down the pike

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    Down the pike means (in the US) to travel on a road... ..(interesting stuff about US road etymology).. ...Given all this, I don't see how this phrase works in this sentence.
    I think your reply strengthens my hypothesis that a new culture assumes you are using their new word. I think the meaning is pretty clear: the author is saying the equivalent of 'staring down the barrel'. I don't know why an American character would be using this expression though.
    Alternatively, the author did mean 'looking down the road' and it is just a badly chosen phrase.
    Very interesting about the roads. I've always wondered where turnpike came from.

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