"balls to the wall"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Feb 11 22:53:14 UTC 2006

>  >   "I doubt the truthfulness of the purported origin of the phrase.
>>    1. No one has ever reported *"going ball to the wall." Even if such a
>>  form once existed, the pluralization, especially in the aggressive
>>  contexts in which the term is used, strongly implies a testicular
>>  reference.
>"Ball to the wall" in the appropriate sense *can* be found, although I
>haven't found it early. But there were different controls, including, I
>think, separate throttles for multiple engines in some planes, so the
>pluralization could be primordial.
>Assuming Jesse Sheidlower et al. were quoted correctly, though, I would
>assume that the etymology involving aircraft controls has some
>substantiation, some paper trail or at least multiple independent oral
>testimonials. Otherwise it's just a guess, and IMHO would/should have been
>presented as such ... although it looks to me like a pretty good guess at
>a glance. One alternative (less good, IMHO) guess would involve the use of
>"ball to the wall" in baseball.
Is the (putative) baseball use attested?  I've never heard it (as such).


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