3

What is the origin of the expression: kick things into long grass? I hear of it in the context of political inaction.

to react to a difficult problem by doing something to make sure that people will forget about it rather than trying to solve it.

  • The decision to kick the proposals into the long grass could come back to haunt all three party leaders. (Macmillan Dictionary)

The following source suggests that its origin is:

Kick it into the long grass" is golf-derived, essentially describing a form of cheating: a player whose ball lands in the rough so as to be unplayable without adding multiple strokes to the hole can cheat by kicking the ball out-of-bounds into the really long grass and take a one-stroke penalty for a lost ball. (www.idiomcenter.com)

Other sources suggest a different origin

Geldof claims it is an old Irish saying meaning that you've been round and about only not too visible- ~Where have you been? I've been lying in the long grass. Under the radar might be an approximation. Lazing with intent. (boomtownrats.activeboard)

Is there evidence of a more precise origin of the above saying?

  • 1
    Sounds like an outdoors version of “sweep it under the rug”. – Scott Jan 31 '18 at 5:38
3

To understand this British expression, you have to envision a football pitch in a rural area where only the pitch itself and a bit of touch (the field beyond the white lines) is maintained.

http://wherestheteahut.blogspot.de/2011/07/marsden.html Football pitch in Marsden.

If one kicks the ball into the grass — or even better, into the wooded area in the background — not only does play stop, but a new ball would usually be brought in to continue uninterrupted play and the first ball "forgotten".

Another source suggests a derivation from golf, not football or rugby. This would add an element of subterfuge and cheating to the expression.

  • Hm. ;) ... a trick young House of Commons MPs learn while playing golf with their Peers. – Ross Murray Jan 29 '18 at 11:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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