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I was watching a game of snooker the other day and heard one of the commentators say "This player has got more bottle than a milkman" after a particularly good shot. What does this mean and how could it be used in other contexts?

PS. google yields no useful results for this expression.

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    A milkman is a man who delivers milk. He delivers milk in bottles. He delivers a lot of milk to a lot of people, so a milkman has a lot of bottles. This snooker player has even more bottles than a milkman. So the snooker player has a lot of bottle(s). So what you're looking for is not the phrase, but the meaning of bottle either as a technical term in cue games or as a general term of approbation in the dialect of the speaker (presumably BrE). That he said "more bottle", as a mass noun, as opposed to "more bottles" as a count noun, is a hint: it's an adjective, a characteristic. – Dan Bron Apr 2 '17 at 14:36
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    My best guess, without googling [snooker glossary bottle] or [British slang bottle] is that bottle here is used metaphorically to mean "the ability to bottle things up', or "put things in narrow-necked containers", ie. *sink balls into pockets", but I'm not sure if snooker has pockets or is just a carom game. I always forget. – Dan Bron Apr 2 '17 at 14:36
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    @DavidRicherby It was guidance to the OP of how to go about finding such answers, teaching a man to fish. Note that the real answer -- British slang -- was offered as well, along with my original comment helping OP analyze the core of the problem (the word bottle, as opposed to the entire phrase). In other words, my comments were helpful. Was yours? – Dan Bron Apr 2 '17 at 17:47
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    @DanBron for what it's worth, I understood your intent just fine. There's nothing wrong with your comment—that's why it's a comment, after all. – ell Apr 3 '17 at 23:20
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    To be fair to both sides of the comment kerfluffle, Dan Bron started with a fine (and highly-voted) comment and then followed with a less-highly-voted (and therefore not always visible) comment that indirectly hinted at two Web searches one might try (both useful, as it turns out), along with a wild (and wrong) guess about what the results might be. So there is a lot of good stuff there, as well as something that might be fairly criticized. – David K Apr 4 '17 at 14:22
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In this context bottle is probably the informal BrE term for 'nerve' or 'courage'.

British informal mass noun The courage or confidence needed to do something difficult or dangerous.

I lost my bottle completely and ran

ODO, sense 2.

To say that someone has "more bottle than a milkman" is a jocular way of saying that he is very bold: a milkman, who delivers milk to homes, of course has a lot of bottles.

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    Now the real question is, "why" bottle? Must be some cockney rhyming slang. Or maybe it's derived from "to bottle up (=contain) one's courage" EDIT See here: theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-200505,00.htm it's italiano! :) – Mari-Lou A Apr 2 '17 at 15:13
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    I don't know any cockney rhyming slang, but I know "bottle" and the verb "bottle out", so this has nothing to do with rhyming slang. – gnasher729 Apr 2 '17 at 15:57
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    @Mari-LouA Here's more on the origin of *bottle*='nerve'. – StoneyB Apr 2 '17 at 17:19
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    In the same vein, you could also say of someone courageous "they've more balls than a Jane Austen novel". – Colonel Panic Apr 3 '17 at 8:47
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    In BrE, this sense of "bottle" can be an en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-antonym. It can mean "courage, nerve, aggression, will to succeed", etc, or the opposite, in a sentence like "he was winning the competition till the final stage, but then bottled it" - i.e. he lost his nerve, and failed. – alephzero Apr 3 '17 at 12:17
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It is Cockney rhyming slang, from "bottle and glass", which rhymes with "arse". So it is an inoffensive way of saying "arse", which in this context means "courage" (I'm not quite sure why).

It is common in the phrase "to lose one's bottle": "I lost my bottle completely when I saw the knife in 'is 'and." Any native speaker of British English would understand it (although I don't think they would all know its origin as rhyming slang).

Edited to add: After reading the answers at this link from @StoneyB's comment, I am less certain about this than I was.

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    Stoney's answer explains the obvious milkman / bottle part, whereas yours starts to explain the more obscure cockney derivation of bottle, so I don't know why Stoney's has so many upvotes. The link you give goes on to explain the connection with courage or nerve - the ability to restrain the involuntary bowel-emptying that accompanies extreme fear! I don't know why you're less certain after reading those answers - they mostly confirm your assumption. – peterG Apr 3 '17 at 15:45
  • @peterG: specifically, the note quoted from the OED in Andrew Leach's answer ("probably derives from the phrase no bottle"). – TonyK Apr 3 '17 at 15:59
  • Completely agree with @peter - to have bottle implies that you don't "lose your arse" easily (as suggested by AnonRB, which means that you're courageous. You should be more confident! – Tom Fenech Apr 4 '17 at 22:12
  • @Tom Thanks . . . and it occurs to me that there are several other links between courage/resolve and, er, intestinal fortitude - 'having the stomach for s/t' and 'he's got guts' etc. Long way from the sort of solid etymology required for an answer, but certainly suggestive. – peterG Apr 4 '17 at 22:50
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It could be that it comes from when beer made by Courage came in bottles. http://aldertons.com/home/slang/

If you want milk, put the Ari on the doorstep. [Every now and again they throw a curve at you. One person has suggested that, not being familiar with Aristotle, early Cockney's might have assumed the name was Harry Stottle! Heard from John Mahony who says that when one uses the expression "lose your bottle" it means to lose the contents of your arse, i.e. "he's shit it", but Ken Caleno says it means to lose your courage (from Courage's bottled beer)]

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    This seems like an interesting insight to the possible etymology of the accepted answer. – Darren Ringer Apr 3 '17 at 16:06
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It may be that the Commentator meant that this particular player has even better shots compared to his opponent who may be more experienced & matured . Even I believe you must elaborate the two players about their age/stats and the scenario. The Phrase clearly shows that the Milkman is always the man who carries more bottles of milk and delivers door to door . No other person has more milk compared to him . When compared to Milkman it shows that this Player has more bottles means he has more calibre , more capacity and potential compared to his opponent or his existing contemporaries .

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