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  1. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #1

    About the etymology of up to creek

    About the etymology of up to creek

    This phrase may have come from Haslar Creek in Portsmouth harbour, a 'salt' creek (may be origin of alternative 'up a shit creek'). Wounded sailors during Nelson's time, were taken there to be admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar to die or recover. The ships moored up in the Solent and the wounded soldiers were transported up Haslar creek by tramline hence 'Up the creek without a paddle'. They were held prisoner so that they would not desert while being treated, and some tried to escape by going through the sewers to the creek (another suggested origin of the alternative 'up a shit creek'). Without a paddle this would be hopeless, hence the phrase 'up the creek (without a paddle)' to mean being trapped, stuck or in trouble.
    Source: Wiktionary

    Q1: Is Haslar a creek which produced salt?

    Q2: Who is Nelson that the quote referred to? What was his full name?

    Q3: The soldiers were sent to the hospital by tramline. Why did the writer say it was with out a paddle here? Tramlines do not use paddle.

    Thank you!

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: About the etymology of up to creek

    I am not a teacher.

    1) I don't think it ever produced salt. Haslar Creek is a sea water creek as opposed to a fresh water one.

    2) Horatio Nelson, full title Vice-Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson or 1st Viscount Nelson. Probably the best known British naval officer ever. Killed during the battle of Trafalgar and is commemorated by a statue on a tall column in London's Trafalgar Square.

    3) It's because tramlines do not use paddles that if you are sent by tram you are without a paddle.

  3. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: About the etymology of up to creek

    Many thanks for your help.

    They were held prisoner so that they would not desert while being treated, and some tried to escape by going through the sewers to the creek
    Does "desert" mean run away?

    v.intr.
    To forsake one's duty or post, especially to be absent without leave from the armed forces with no intention of returning.


    Since they would not run away, why did the writer say "try to escape" ? It seems to be paradoxical for me.

    Thank you!

  4. Roman55's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: About the etymology of up to creek

    I am not a teacher.

    Yes, 'desert' does mean run away. The text doesn't say 'they would not desert (run away)' it says that 'They were held prisoner so that they would not desert'. In other words, to prevent them from running away.

    The sailors were often press-ganged into the navy, which means that they had been enlisted by force, against their will. Being in the hospital, rather than on board ship, gave them an opportunity to escape.

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