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What is the meaning of the saying take the lead out? I ask because I was watching this video from the 1960's show What's My Line and Groucho Marx writes this on a blackboard (where he's supposed to write his name) and gets a big laugh. I've heard the saying before, albeit very infrequently.

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When I looked up this specific episode, I found tv sites discussing it: "He signed by writing ""take the lead out,"" which was a reference to the guest in the previous game." From what I can tell, I think the previous guest had a job related to a pencil factory, so it's possible that this was a joke about pencil "lead" and not related to the saying get the lead out. – aedia λ Nov 16 '11 at 16:27
I always thought it had something to do with unleaded gasoline. – Andrew Vit Nov 16 '11 at 16:56
Urban dictionary probably ads to take the Led out indicates you are listening or liking something about the band... Led Zeppelin – user20648 Apr 28 '12 at 13:49
up vote 8 down vote accepted

"Get the lead out" is a common expression basically meaning "hurry up". Some urban dictionaries trace the etymology back to 18th-century British army/navy, but this is contested as there is little to no evidence of this. Etymologists do agree it began to be commonly used in the United States beginning in the early 20th century, often as the slightly longer "get the lead out of your pants". The idea is simply that the person whom you are telling this is moving slowly as if they are weighted down with lead, so "getting the lead out" would make them move faster.

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It's a truncation of the vulgar exhortation to "get the lead out of your ass." The idea is that the malefactor's posterior is heavily weighted down, leading to slow and awkward performance of a physical activity.

In other words, it means, "hurry up!"

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"Get the lead our of your ass" is a modern dysphemism. – KeithS Nov 16 '11 at 16:17

protected by RegDwigнt Apr 28 '12 at 15:01

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