May I ask you about the meaning of the idiom 'fire on all cylinders' in the following sentence:
I think I need that sort of adrenalin to get me firing on all cylinders'.
I understand it as 'to do your best', 'to provide the maximum amount of power'.
Am I right?
To understand the idiom, you need to know about the Internal combustion engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (Because many petrol engines are 4-stroke engines, another form of this idiom is 'firing on all four [cylinders]').
The number of cylinders has nothing to do with it being a 4-stroke engine. Firing on all 8 cylinders would have been the original American version.
Regardless of the size of the motor, the expression "to get me firing on all cylinders" means to enable the machine to operate to its fullest capacity.
Ksyu-k's original definition (to provide the maximum amount of power) is slightly off. To enable the machine to provide the maximum amount of power would be slightly better.
Am I nitpicking?
Anyway, for the sake of argument let's consider a 4-stroke engine with four cylinders. Instead of going bang-bang-bang-bang for every full revolution of the crankshaft it goes bang-bang-cough-bang. Simplistically, it's running at 75% of full power. (I say 'simplistically' - I doubt if the maths works out like that when all's said and done - but it''l do for me; the car isn't running smoothly and it's underpowered. I imagine the lack of smoothness is more obvious than the lack of power.)
Sorry - I can't find a typo.
to provide the maximum amount of power - vs. -
to enable the machine to provide the maximum amount of power
Ksyu-k's original understanding of the phrase was: (I need that sort of adrenaline "to provide the maximum amount of power").
My suggestion is: I need that sort of adrenaline to get the machine to give me the maximum amount of power.
My reasoning is that the machine need not be operating at the maximum amount of power to be operating correctly. All you need is to be hitting on all fours to do your best and to enable the machine to provide maximum power.
Conversely, you can't do your best if you don't have the ability to generate full power. To be able to generate full power, you have to be hitting on all four cylinders.
I need a nap - Perhaps I'm beginning to sound like Abbott and Costello.
I see what you mean now - about enabling the machine (not about Abbott and Costello).