Slow but steady wins the race
This is a well-known saying from Aesop’s fables – The hare and the tortoise. They had a race. It is often quoted as Slow and steady wins the race.
“On your marks, get set, go!” and
“Ready, steady, go!” are two ways of starting a running race. The marks are the line beyond which the distance has been measured. Get set means get ready. Steady perhaps means don’t wobble while you wait for the signal. In any case it rhymes and that is a good enough reason to include it.
Steady Eddie rhymes too. This is a nickname for a very cautious person.
“Steady, Eddie!” is a comment meaning take care.
Steady as you go! is a similar one.
In at the deep end
refers to the deep end of a swimming pool. Beginners learn at the shallow end. Anyone starting a job with little time to learn about it may feel they have been thrown in at the deep end.
To go off at the deep end means to lose one’s temper.
To swim against the tide
requires great strength. If someone is standing up for what they believe in against the tide of popular opinion they may have the same expression used about them.
In the swim
means fashionable or popular.
I have never played golf; my lack of skill on the putting green has made me side with those who consider the game to be “a good walk spoiled”, a quotation attributed to Mark Twain. (The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying and Quotation.)
Mark Twain, detail of photo by Mathew Brady, February 7, 1871 Photo Credit Wikipedia
There are a few expressions from golf, which have enriched the language.
Par for the course is the expected number of strokes. It is also used to mean that something is what might be expected.
A hole in one
is the best score possible. A single stroke has propelled the ball into the intended hole.
A birdie is a hole played in one stroke under par.
An eagle is one stroke less than a birdie. (As I am out of my depth writing about sport, I had to look these up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary.)
Short of the mark could apply to golf, but is more likely from archery. A propelled object has not reached its target.
Wide of the mark means it has gone sideways. If someone makes a comment which shows they have not understood a situation, they are wide of the mark.
A bulls-eye is the centre of a target. Shooting wild animals might give rise to this as an eye is a vulnerable point. What a good thing (bull) elephants are no longer fair game!
Neck and neck describes runners who are about to pass the finishing line at approximately the same time. It also can describe rivals in other contexts.
In the running means having a chance of winning or achieving an ambition.
Running in, please pass.
This used to be a sign attached to the back of a new motor vehicle. It was necessary to keep below a certain speed for the first thousand miles before the first oil change in order not to damage the engine. Nowadays vehicle manufacturing methods have improved and running in is no longer necessary.
A free-for-all is a fight or discussion anyone can join.
Pulling your punches means not hitting as hard as your strength would allow. It can also be applied to speech.
A sporting chance is a possibility of success, not only in sport.
Flying a kite is an enjoyable activity for a windy day. Metaphorically it means suggesting something and waiting to see if it is taken up as a good idea or trying something on. (Not clothes!)
I don’t know whether St Paul enjoyed sport as a youngster, but he was happy to use the language of sport to spread the Good News about Jesus.