Not being a native English speaker, I'm reading What to Talk About to improve my communication skills.
While reading, I came across this phrase:

empty your pipe against the heel of your boot.

I couldn't understand it, and Google wasn't of much help. Can someone here shed some light on it?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, Hellion, ScotM, Ellie Kesselman Apr 20 '15 at 1:58

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Very simple, physical action, and if you were around people who smoke tobacco pipes you would have seen it often. And @JamesMcLeod has nailed the simple description in his answer. It's done outdoors, not indoors, btw. – John Lawler Apr 19 '15 at 14:21
  • 1
    That's not a well known idiom or proverb. So presumably the first meaning is literal. From the source, a chapter on making conversation, the prior example is to use trigger words to connect to your prepared talking point, eg, "the chuckwalla lizard never needs to drink", just something that will start a conversation. Both, a lizard's water needs and emptying your pipe, seem pretty bizarre conversation topics. – Mitch Apr 19 '15 at 15:33
  • 2
    @Mitch - not for a pipe-smoking herpetologist! – user98990 Apr 19 '15 at 17:08

The pipe in this context is the kind one smokes tobacco in. This just means to empty the bowl of the pipe by knocking it against your shoe or boot (which would normally be leather or some material which protects you from the heat of the pipe if it was recently lit) to loosen the contents and shake them out.

This could also be metaphorical but we would need more context to determine a meaning here.

  • You might consider expanding the description. When standing or sitting, if you need something hard to knock the pipe against, you can lift one foot to knee height with the ankle braced against the knee. In this posture, the heel is topmost or closer to the body, and is thicker than the rest of the sole of the shoe. This makes it a convenient surface to knock against with the pipe. – WhatRoughBeast Apr 19 '15 at 18:21

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