English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I read that headline in the New York Times. From the context, I understood that it means that Biden was a little too hasty. I would like to know the origins of this expression

share|improve this question
    
I've never heard of this expression, but from its literal meaning, I surmise that when you are in a hurry, you tend to fall over your skis, so by extension, it would mean getting ahead of yourself too soon, or too hasty as you guessed. – deutschZuid May 15 '12 at 4:30
up vote 1 down vote accepted

When you want to ski fast like a downhill racer, you point your skis downhill and get over your skis, positioning your weight forward.

Similarly, when you ski jump, you get out over your skis to control your descent.

In either case, the connotation is that Vice-President Biden got to a position much more quickly than President Obama would have liked him to, before President Obama was quite ready to declare his position on the matter.

share|improve this answer
1  
Plus, if you lean too far out over your skis, you're likely to fall on your face. – J.R. May 15 '12 at 8:21
    
I wondered about this expression - over your skis is normally where you want to be! If your weight isn't over your skis you fall over. – mgb May 15 '12 at 16:56

I've seen it as, "he got too far out over his skis" (and crashed), which I take to mean he overextended himself; he promised more than he could deliver; he didn't measure up to his expectations; he had more balls than sense.

share|improve this answer

I am not sure if I was the originator of the phase but in a conversation 25 years or so ago with a coworker I was expressing the feeling I had of not being in control as a skier is when he is leaning too far forward and feels a lack of balance and control and knows he is about to lose all control and crash.

Now I again am not sure if others have used this expression before but since that conversation I and my friend/co-worker have used it repeatedly to convey the feeling of losing control. I believe we were the originators of that phase.

share|improve this answer
1  
Please don't shout and the word is phrase – Matt E. Эллен Jan 9 '13 at 22:32

protected by Rathony Mar 15 at 5:57

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.