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#71447 - 05/27/02 07:32 AM "down pat"
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I just searched the files for this expression, and I don't think it's been discussed.

Where does the expression "down pat" come from as in the sentence:

"After practicing for four hours, she had the composition down pat," meaning she could play it flawlessly.

There's the possibility that I've misheard this phrase, but I'll toss it out for either correction or clarification.


#71448 - 05/27/02 07:46 AM Re: "down pat"
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
Nope you didn't miss here, to get something down pat is to have internalized it... why i don't know!

i never use it with a say, a single poem, but rather with complicated, yet flexible patterns -- like school schedules.(monday is band for B, dance of E, tuesday is girl scouts, wednesday drop e off for piano, take B to Alergist, Jim will pick up E, after his work, and pick up take out for dinner...) well you get the idea..
or driving stick.. you could get shifting gears down pat! learn how to do it, so you do it with out thinking.. but its not something memorized, like a poem, or piece of music.. well not for me-- it is something flexible (when to shift gears is a perfect example!)

my other obsession

#71449 - 05/27/02 08:39 AM Re: "down pat"
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
This was posted in another site. Seems worth posting here.

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Re: pat

Posted by bob on January 14, 19100 at 16:50:41:

In Reply to: Re: pat posted by ESC on January 14, 19100 at 01:29:11:

: : :
: : : this is an assignment for one of my college classes and have not been able to locate anything on the
phrase "down pat" other than what it means. Any help is greatly appreciated.

: : From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, 1997):
"stand pat. American poker players in the late 19th century invented this expression to indicate that a
player was satisfied with the original hand dealt to him and would draw no more cards. Where did pat
come from? One theory is that because the word meant 'in a manner that fits or agrees with the purpose
or occasion' or 'incapable of being improved' it was a natural for the poker expression. Another holds that
'stand pat' is a corruption of 'stand pad,' an older English expression meaning 'to sell from a stationary
position' and originally referring to peddlers who remained in a fixed location..."

: : I just realized that you were asking about "down pat." I haven't found that yet. But if you'll look at the
word definition in the first theory, that might help.

: PAT -- From “The Dictionary of Etymology: The Origins of American English Words” by Robert K.
Barnhart (HarperCollins, 1995): “pat2 adv., suitably. 1578, perhaps a special use of pat1 (a light tap), in
the sense of hitting the mark; and thus ‘opportunely,’ ready for any occasion.”

One can speculate (and this is pure speculation) that the origin may well be in poker parlance. Every
poker player knows that feeling when one is dealt a pat hand: you glance at the 5 diamonds you've been
dealt, and it makes a vivid impression. You don't need to glance at it again and again to verify what you
have: you have it down pat.. Of course, amateur poker players give themselves away by behaving
differently when they have one kind of hand versus another. They look at it too often, or not often
enough, they lay it down in fornt of them instead of holding it, etc. (Poker players call these "tells,"
characteristic behaviors that give away a hand's strength.) Naturally, an advanced poker player will
strive to eliminate tells, or skillfully plant false tells to deceive. One way to reach a behavioral
consistency is to spend the same amount of time examining your cards each time, regardless of its
content. To memorize (get down pat) the cards at the same pace, with the same hand movements, with
the same poker face. (I play poker against one fellow who changes his rate of breathing when he gets a
good hand...)
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#71450 - 05/27/02 10:07 AM Re: "down pat"
Geoff Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 819
Loc: Portland,Oregon, USA
Don't know about "down pat," but "pat down" sounds like a lot more fun!

#71451 - 05/27/02 10:59 AM Re: "down pat"
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Thanks for your sleuthing, wwh. Cards it is, then, and poker at that.

"Pat down" sounds like a softened version of the "shake down."


#71452 - 05/27/02 11:06 AM Re: "down pat"
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
OOh, can i get in first in line of a pat down?

my other obsession

#71453 - 05/27/02 10:54 PM Re: "down pat"
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
When I was a first-year student in theology, there was a student in my class named Pat. The dean of the school was named John. Pat and John had an arrangement. If he would never use the expression "get it down pat," she would never use the expression "go to the john."

#71454 - 05/28/02 12:38 AM Re: "down pat"
milum Offline
old hand

Registered: 09/03/01
Posts: 872
Loc: Birmingham, Alabama
Hereabouts "down pat" and "standing pat" are both understood within the context of "a pat hand" meaning "a set hand with no need to draw". An extension of the term into the outer world of anti-gamblenouses seems obvious. Or, if you prefer, a "pat" eventuality. The "pat" is made sonarphorous by a knock or "pat" on the table signaling no draw.


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