In Margaret Thatcher's speech, she says:

To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!

How to understand the word for in the highlighted section?

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    He voted in favor of. He voted for X – Noah Apr 15 '13 at 12:12

The phrase “the lady’s not for turning” that Thatcher used in her 1980 speech was intended to be a pun on The Lady’s Not for Burning, a 1948 play by Christopher Fry. The pun was made by Thatcher’s speechwriter although Wikipedia suggests that its punniness flew over Thatcher’s head at the time.

It means she’s not to be turned, just as the earlier one meant she was not to be burned.

  • But what is she to be prevented from being 'turned' from? – Mitch Apr 15 '13 at 13:48
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    in this context, it means turned away from her stated political positions. In the speech, she was specifically talking about her opposition to liberalising the UK economy. She was being pressured to reverse her position ("do a U-turn") on that topic, and her response was meant to say that she was "not built to do U-turns". – KutuluMike Apr 15 '13 at 14:21
  • "To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!" – Andrew Leach Apr 15 '13 at 17:03
  • I distinctly remember another politician of the day, who when being faced with the fact that the Government had essentially done a U-turn, retorted: "We're going ahead." He didn't seem to feel it was incumbent on him to add the ingenuous "in the opposite direction." – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 '13 at 17:28

I heard it as "designed for" or "intended for", but with an implication that the lack of good design will not allow it to be used that way, so "suitable for".

I need a horse for jumping. How about that one?
That's a Shire. It's not for jumping, it's for pulling carts.

I want a rope for climbing mountains.
That one's not for climbing, it's for hanging washing on.

@Robert suggested that it meant "in support of" or "in favour of". Thatcher's statement was stronger, though; it meant that she was not designed to be turned, and therefore could not be.

All those in favour of turning Maggie Thatcher around, say "Aye".
There's no point; the lady's not for turning.

This was one of the things that led to her being called "The Iron Lady", the implication being that she was not malleable (with the additional pun that an Iron Maiden is an instrument of torture).


In this context it means "in support of" or "in favor of".

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    I think it's stronger than just "in support of"; the entire line was "you turn if you want to, the lady's not for turning", meaning "we both support this idea now; you can give in to the pressure and change your mind, but I never will." – KutuluMike Apr 15 '13 at 14:22

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