[Ads-l] shoot one's wad (1860)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 7 23:56:48 UTC 2017

I wrote about the expression for Slate today.



On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 11:41 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> This expression is in the news because of a quote from Sen. Orrin Hatch:
> http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/07/trump-obamacare-
> congress-tax-reform-241340
> "We’re not going back to health care. We’re in tax now. As far as I’m
> concerned, they shot their wad on health care and that’s the way it is. I’m
> sick of it."
> On Twitter, one reporter called the expression "graphic," likely assuming
> it originally referred to ejaculation.
> https://twitter.com/NateWeixel/status/894570374989582336
> But as has been discussed here in the past, the original metaphorical
> foundation of "shoot one's wad" has to do with the wadding used for loading
> muskets and cannons and such.
> Here's the earliest metaphorical usage I've found, in the sense of "use up
> all of one's resources" (in this case, rhetorical resources).
> Clearfield (Pa.) Republican, Aug. 15, 1860, p. 2, col. 5
> He, too, was called to the stand, and after torturing himself severely
> some thirty minutes, sat down -- not that the audience were tired of him,
> by any means; but the gentleman _had shot his wad_.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/?spot=12925332
> --bgz

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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