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Van de Ven & Poole (1990) use the expression "out of their own hides" when discussing research funding. A google search only returns two results. Is this expression idiomatic? What does it mean? The following is an excerpt from their text (emphasis mine):

(...) our experience has been that over the duration of a longitudinal study, nearly every hour of field work requires an equal hour of homework, with the latter occupying increasing proportions of time in the autumn of the research. Using MIRP as an example, this paper will focus on how researchers might spend their hours more creatively and efficiently in performing this homework. This homework tends to represent the less visible, more "introverted," less socially rewarding, yet often more technically complex and creative "back room" work of longitudinal research. Researchers must often support this homework "out of their own hides," because funding and resources to support it are seldom adequate and difficult to obtain.

References

Van de Ven, A. H., & Poole, M. S. (1990). Methods for studying innovation development in the Minnesota Innovation Research Program. Organization science, 1(3), 313-335.

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  • 1
    This question should be moved to 'English Language Learners'
    – johann_ka
    Jan 25 at 14:36
  • 2
    Your hide is your very self - here, your own budget. The authors are quoting researchers whining that they're paying "quote". For similar imagery - You may have skin in the game, need to save your neck, or your ass may be on the line. Jan 25 at 14:36
  • @johann_ka my main question is whether the term is idiomatic or not. Your comment suggests that it is. Jan 25 at 14:39
  • Apparently it is rarely used but to me, it is. The NYTimes used it ...long ago: nytimes.com/1988/01/08/us/the-law-at-the-bar.html
    – johann_ka
    Jan 25 at 14:43
  • In the New York and New Jersey area, it's common to hear It's your hide. They barely saved their hide. Saw neither hide nor hair of him. Jan 25 at 15:47

2 Answers 2

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To take something out of [one’s] hide is an idiomatic expression (in American English, anyway) that means something like (but perhaps not exactly nowadays) this:

to take it out of one’s hide [Colloq.], to get satisfaction from one by administering castigation, as for an uncollectable debt.
Source: A Standard Dictionary of the English Language — hide (1893)

I would say that meaning has been extended since 1893 to include getting money out of someone the hard way. Your example is in the plural and throws in own, so that makes it somewhat less common, but it is not out of the question.

You can find examples at this Google Ngram. Scroll down to Search in Google Books and click on the search-term bubbles (there are some false positives, but you will get the gist).

Here are some other examples in the wild, from Corpus of Contemporary American English:

out of POSS hide

out of POSS hides

There is also a phrase used by the military / government: out of hide, where hide seems to mean more like cache or reserves. (See DAU — out of hide as well as examples.)

Looking at the various usages linked above, you can also see a mashup of the two.

For background, compare these definitions of hide:

hide, n.1
2. a. The human skin. (Since 17th cent. contemptuous or jocular.)

hide, n.3
II. A hiding place.
2. (In modern use.) A hiding place; a cache.

Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required)

Summary: Your researchers must pay out-of-pocket and/or make sacrifices to obtain resources.

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These Google ngrams ('off their own bat' shown for comparison)

enter image description herewould indicate that 'out of their own hide/s' is far from common, so not idiomatic. And 'out of your own hide' is similarly distributed.

The fact that there are only about ten hits in a Google search for "off their own hides" and that only a couple of these are used with the sense 'out of their own pocket' / 'at their own expense' is further indication of non-idiomaticity. "Out of their own hides" has more hits, but Google is unclear as to how many; about 10 distinct examples are given.

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  • In U.S. English, "out of [one's] hide" is moderately idiomatic, as this Ngram, which compares "out of their hide" and "out of their hides" to "off their own bat," suggests. But the reflexive form "out of [one's] own hide" is quite unusual—in my experience anyway.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 25 at 18:53
  • I should note that "out of one's hide" has a literal meaning as well as a figurative one, so not all of the Ngram results are idiomatic.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 25 at 18:58
  • I've just checked, and 2 (arguably 2.5) examples out of the first 20 in the most recent tranche for "out of their hides" are non-literal (and a lot are duplicate quotes of Twain). Jan 25 at 20:01
  • The matches for the period 1950–2004—which are the ones I checked before posting my original comment above—seem to be considerably more tilted toward figurative (idiomatic) use that the ones you cite. However, figurative use of the expression may be more regional than I had imagined; I grew up (in Texas) hearing it used fairly frequently, so I may have fallen into the trap of supposing that it was more general in the U.S. than may be the case.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 25 at 20:31
  • “ Save your own hide” and “save his own hide” are more common, probably because in these expressions “hide” refers to “life” (or, sometimes, reputation) rather than resources or funds. I’ve heard it used around the country, and native speakers in the US should find the quoted use easy to interpret. “Off your own bat” seems to mean “on your own initiative,” consistent with sports, e.g., tennis—“The match is on his racket.”
    – Xanne
    Jan 25 at 21:35

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