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British slang #55049
02/03/02 08:36 PM
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In NEW SCIENTIST for 19 Jan in an article about finding other worlds in space I encountered a bit of Brit slang I had to look up. It was said that ingenious use of existing technology (will leave) "expensive space missions pipped at the post.". Which apparently means beaten before they even start.


Re: British sland #55050
02/03/02 08:38 PM
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Sorry Bill, but to be "pipped at the post" means to be beaten at the last minute; to nearly succeed only to be disappointed when success seemed firmly within your grasp.



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Re: British slang #55051
02/03/02 08:46 PM
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Dear CK: Thanks for your response. The sense of the article suggested a defeat before the race had begun, not a defeat close to the finish. Of course my ignorance of racing enables me to confuse starting gate with the post at the finish of the race.


Re: British slang #55052
02/03/02 08:55 PM
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Dear CK: I found a US glossary of racing terms, and found this:

POST- Starting point or position in starting gate.

Is there that much difference between UK and US terminology?


Re: British slang #55053
02/03/02 08:58 PM
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I have also read "Post time" meaning time race is scheduled to start.


Re: British slang #55054
02/03/02 09:55 PM
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Weelll, Bill. Here's the thing. There is a "starting post" and there is a "finishing post". They may actually be the same post, viewed as each type, however, at different stages of the race.

I'd never thought about whether the expression "to be pipped at the post" was understood in America, but I accept that it may not be common usage there. It is in Zild, and I'm sure that it will be in Oz. Maybe even in Canada, contaminated though she often is by the linguistic foibles of her southern neighbour.

The post referred to, I believe, is always the finishing post in terms of this expression.



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Re: British slang #55055
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What you call "pipped at the post", we here call "nipped at the wire". But of course, our fair Kentuckian will wish to speak on the equine subject?


Re: British slang #55056
02/03/02 10:40 PM
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Dear CK: here is the complete text, which seems to me to mean that the ground based guys can win before the race even starts. I did have a slight misquote in my original post, "at" substitured for "to".

While space agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars
developing a host of space-based missions to discover
distant terrestrial planets, researchers are making ingenious
use of existing technology back here on Earth. They're
confident that expensive space missions will be pipped to the post
before they even get off the ground.

from New Scientist, Jan 19, 2002



Re: British slang #55057
02/04/02 03:33 AM
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I didn't find a Brit-speak list that had pipped at or pipped to the post, but I did Google "pipped to the post".
Most of the entries were pipped AT the post, and did mention last-minute events. The one that had pipped TO the post was an article about foot-racing with oranges in Devon...and they say WE'RE weird.

I know that the British refer to the seeds in fruit as pips, and I read where someone called the warning tones in a pay phone pips.

It may be that the article implied that, although the get-out-there-and-get-it guys are going to continue to develop their projects, the hey-we-found-a-way-to-get-it-while-staying-home guys are going to make enough progress that the need for some of the go-away projects will cease to exist.

As to nipped at the wire: I have seldom heard that. I have heard edged out by a nose, beaten by a nose, and more commonly, nosed out at the wire. Here at Churchill Downs, and at other U.S. racetracks I have heard races called at on TV, if the announcer says "the Post", that means the starting post. That's why the horses' placements in the starting gate are called Post Positions. Is that the way it is at Pimlico, Bob?


The Post #55058
02/04/02 03:41 AM
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Yes Jackie, at Pimlico, as at Churchill Downs, the "post", by itself with no qualification, is taken to mean the starting post. The end point of a race is generally referred to as the "wire", as in "right down to the wire". You will hear commentators on races on TV saying, "The horses are approaching the post", which means coming up to the starting gate. But at the end of the race, it would be, "Glue Factory is bearing down on the wire a length ahead of Dogsmeat", or some such.

But then, you might expect the Brits to get the expression "post" backwards; after all, they do run races in the wrong direction.

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