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I know I'm getting to a lot of these strange phrases, but what does this mean? I'm doing an English report and I'm supposed to find out a lot of these kinds of phrases. Here's an example in a sentence:

Bob did a Devon Loch in the last minutes of the match.

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    Who is Devon Loch and what is he famous for? If you know that, you'll know what doing a Devon Loch means. It means doing the thing DL is famous for. Just in case your google is broken: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devon_Loch
    – dnagirl
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:31
  • I know you got the badge for touring the site so you know to include your research in your question! :-) Jun 4, 2015 at 19:38
  • I see...it is true I did just tour the site for unanswered questions.
    – ethanc
    Jun 4, 2015 at 20:02
  • If you had glanced in any reference or google you would have had a total answer. If you literally just start typing "DEVON L..." in to the browser on your computer -- the total, complete answer appears. You don't even have to put in the effort to hit return.
    – Fattie
    Jun 5, 2015 at 3:46

2 Answers 2

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It's a reference to a racehorse, best remembered for the 1956 Grand National. Who as that Wikipedia link says...

was on the final stretch, in front of the royal box just 40 yards from the winning post and with a five-length lead, when he suddenly, and inexplicably, jumped into the air and landed on his stomach, allowing E.S.B. to overtake and win.

By extension, as per Bank Soal & Strategi, TOEFL...

do a Devon Loch (UK)
If someone does a Devon Loch, they fail when they were very close to winning


I freely admit never heard of it before searching Google Books just now. My figurative expression is fail at the last hurdle.

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  • ...so when someone fails when the crowd is filled with anticipation? I wonder what that looks like :)
    – ethanc
    Jun 4, 2015 at 22:01
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    @Relentive: I have absolutely no idea what it looked like. Maybe Bob in your example also jumped into the air and fell flat on his stomach, like the horse. Or maybe he just played really badly near the end of a match that he had previously looked certain to win. The basic idiomatic construction is common, and "productive" (you can use it with any name, famous or not, so long as your audience know what it is that person does/did that you're referring to). Someone could "do a FumbleFingers", perhaps, by writing a long and rambling comment on ELU. Jun 4, 2015 at 23:24
  • I wonder how a horse land on its stomach after a jump..? Unlike us humans, the horse has four legs in the way! Mar 13, 2019 at 1:10
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This name immediately looks strange as Devon is a county in Southern England but loch is a name for a lake used only in Scotland (or in Ireland but not when using English spelling). There is also a River Devon (and its tributary the Black Devon) in Central Scotland, but no loch bearing this name.

It turns out that this horse is, in etymological terms, not so much of a thoroughbred as a mongrel!

According to Wikipedia, its anecestry is as follows (to which I have added the origins):

Sire Devonian (probably English placename of British origin)
Grandsire Hyperion (from Greek mythology)
Dam Coolaleen (Irish(country and language))
Damsire Loch Lomond (Scottish loch of Gaelic origin)

In other words its DNA is of very mixed etymology.

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