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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Drop off the spar

    Does anyone know the origin of the above phrase?


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    #2

    Re: Drop off the spar

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Does anyone know the origin of the above phrase?
    I never heard of this expression. It is not an idiom to my knowledge. Perhaps it is an old nautical term. You would have to provide a lot more information for a better answer. An example of its usage would be nice....

    Drop off can mean a couple of things

    1. to fall off (The cup dropped off the table when the child pulled the table cloth.)
    2. to deliver something (He dropped off the books at the library yesterday.)

  2. LwyrFirat's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: Drop off the spar

    Might it be, "Drop off spare something"?


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    #4

    Re: Drop off the spar

    Quote Originally Posted by LwyrFirat View Post
    Might it be, "Drop off spare something"?
    That makes no sense at all.

  3. Soup's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Drop off the spar

    But drop of the spare would, as in; e.g., drop off the spare (key) when you're done moving out.


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    #6

    Re: Drop off the spar

    Hi,

    Thanks for the answers to date (it was I who posted the original question, now registered on this forum).

    To "drop off the spar" is an idiom in use in (parts of) Scotland and I wondered if anyone could provide its origin. As far as I know, it means "to fall asleep" or "to nod off" (itself possibly another idiom ;) ).

    I guessed a nautical connection and wondered whether it might relate to the length of time sailors of old masted sailing ships had to spend on the spars supporting the sails - perhaps long enough to fall asleep and "drop off". Alternatively, perhaps a term relating to the old practice of coal miners taking canaries down the mines in cages to provide early warning of poisonous gases, although this would be more likely to be the origin of "to fall off one's perch" (meaning to die, again an idiom in use in parts of Scotland).

    Thanks again.

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    #7

    Re: Drop off the spar

    I believe your assumption (nautical origin) could be correct. Etymology online offers:
    "stout pole," c.1300, "rafter," from M.L.G. or M.Du. sparre, from P.Gmc. *sparron (cf. O.E. *spere "spear, lance," O.N. sperra "rafter, beam"), from PIE base *sper- "spear, pole" (see spear). Nautical use dates from 1640. Also borrowed in O.Fr. as esparre, which may have been the direct source of the Eng. word.


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    #8

    Re: Drop off the spar

    Here's a contextual example for fall off a spar, a different meaning altogether, but the site is priceless:
    Admiral Toddy takes over the proceedings and asks, "did you or did you not fall off a spar and break your leg?" Snarl replies, "Arr sor, dat I did but dat ...
    The idea that drop off, a modern idiom meaning to fall asleep, stems from the days of "wooden ships and iron men" is rather intriguing.

    What are you working on?

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