[lit-ideas] Pear-Shaped

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 18:59:53 EDT

David Ritchie:
>>So which came first, do you think, hostility to the "supersized  Rubens"
>>habitus, or some weird intolerance of pears'  form?
J. Evans: 
>I was wondering that too! I suspect "pear-shaped" meaning "gone  wrong"
>post-dates "pear-shaped women".
For the record, M. Quinion suggests -- in his webpage (below) -- it's RAF  
slang -- he refers to 'Oxford Dictionaries', but at least the online OED does  
not seem to recognise the meaning, so maybe he has another specific Oxford  
dictionary in mind?
"It isnâ??t immediately obvious how the literal meaning turned into the  
figurative one, though we do know that it started to appear in the 1960s. A  
explanation, the one accepted by Oxford Dictionaries, is that it comes  from 
Royal Air Force slang. However, nobody there or anywhere else seems to know  
why. Some say that it may have been applied to the efforts of pilots to do  
aerobatics, such as loops. It is notoriously difficult (I am told) to get  
manoeuvres like this even roughly circular, and instructors would describe the  
resulting distorted route of the aircraft as pear-shaped. Iâ??ve not seen  firm 
evidence to convince me of this explanation, which sounds a little  
but thatâ??s the best I can do!"
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