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  1. VIP Member
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    put on all sails

    Dear teachers,

    Would you tell me whether I am right about my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    “Can you get this job done for me tomorrow morning?”
    “Yes, sir, if we put on all sails.”?

    put on all sails = do one’s utmost, do what one can

    Thanks for your efforts.



  2. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
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    Re: put on all sails

    It's an expression not commonly used, but crucial to gathering speed on a sailing ship. (Many other nautical metaphors are used as much [or more] on dry land; a project that doesn't involve sailing ships at all can get under way and encounter fair winds [when everything is plain sailing] or choppy water [when the participants make heavy weather of it].

    But doing one's utmost is usually referred to in another nautically-origined expression: all hands to the pumps or all hands on deck.


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