bale out / bail out (thing again/think again)

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon May 5 17:12:36 UTC 2008

On May 5, 2008, at 9:52 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> I just encountered what looked like an error to me, in Richard
> Francis's "Judge Sewall's Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the
> Forming of a Conscience" (London: 2005), p. 23:
> "... during King Philip's War he [John Hull] actually helped to bale
> out the colony with his own money."  [Hull was authorized to mint
> coins for Massachusetts, until the British put a stop to it, and was
> allowed one of every twenty (IIRC) for himself.]
> I was surprised to discover that the Authority (to use a 17-18th
> century term) does have the spelling "bale out".

from Brians's Common Errors:

You bail the boat and bale the hay.

In the expression “bail out” meaning to abandon a position or
situation, it is nonstandard in America to use “bale,” though that
spelling is widely accepted in the UK. The metaphor in the U.S. is to
compare oneself when jumping out of a plane to a bucket of water being
tossed out of a boat, though that is probably not the origin of the

and "bailing wire" is in the ecdb:

(entry by Ben Zimmer, based on a sighting by Alison Murie here on ADS-L)


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