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"Pear-shaped", supplementary comments

 

(See remarks in UCLE.)

From: "Chris Veness" <e-mail>
To: <webmasters@ucle.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2001 9:56 AM
Subject: Pear-shaped

I don't have any definitive citation, but James Briggs from Sheffield
Hallam University posted the following:

To go pear shaped is an expression used to indicate that a scheme has not
been perfectly executed. The phrase seems to have originated in British
English in the late 1940s or early 1950s. 1 have come across several
suggested origins, but the best, for me, is related to training aircraft
pilots. At some stage they are encouraged to try to fly loops - very
difficult to make perfectly circular; often the trainee pilot's loops
would go pear shaped.

(<http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/4/messages/1242.html>)

The same origin is referred to in
<http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-pea2.htm>.

That such a phrase is so popular, without any definitive origin, suggests
that it holds some resonance in its own right. I think the evocative idea
of a pure circle sagging out of shape to become pear-shaped is sufficient to
explain the popularity of the phrase, if not the origin.

Regards,

Chris Veness