“Swinging The Lead” …. how did it originate?


We turn to Tony Wootton and Gwen Zanzottera again to help out. In their book -‘By Hook Or By Crook’ – they tell us how this English phrase came into being. Let us learn the origin of another phrase.

“Swinging The Lead”

In the early days of navigation, it was essential to find the depth of the water, particularly nearer the land. The way to do this was to drop a rope over the side of the ship. The rope was knotted at fathom intervals and there was a lead weight at the bottom pf the rope to ensure that it went to the bottom, and didn’t just go with the current of the water.

A lazy sailor wouldn’t just throw the rope over the side, but would waste time by swinging the lead backwards and forwards several times.”

This phrase is not of common usage nowadays, but may be used more in the navigation circle,  but no harm adding this to our reservoir of knowledge.

Come visit again, thank you for reading this.

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