I know the phrase means "going all out" but I can't figure out what it literally means or where it originates from.
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First attested in the 1960s in the context of aviation. Probably coined by pilots whose throttle levers had round, ball-like tops and for whom putting the "balls to the wall" (the firewall of the aircraft) meant making the aircraft fly as quickly as possible.
I think it comes from racing or aircraft when you have the engine going as fast as possible and your whole body is pressed back against the seat and wall of the cockpit...including the 'balls'.
If one's testicles are against a wall surely one cannot push them any further? Doesn't that mean you're at the limit?
protected by tchrist Mar 31 '14 at 22:50
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