A 3-Line Whip

Discussion in 'English Only' started by colognial, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. colognial Senior Member

    Hello All.

    The quote below is from the Guardian's page http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/may/08/how-to-make-perfect-malt-loaf-recipe, where the virtues of the malt loaf, along with a recipe, have been enumerated.

    "Though it's sold as a bread, it's definitely more in the cake category – the loaf bit is just there to justify the application of great wodges of salty butter, which is less of a serving suggestion and more of a three-line whip in my book."

    I am unable to picture a 'three-line whip': Is it a generous slice, with the three lines being, what? Is it in fact a reference to an actual whip (which I doubt very much it is)? Or is the author underlining some tip - what? - in order to emphasise it?

    Please help, and thanks in advance.
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi colognial

    It's an extension of the use of the term three-line whip in the UK Parliament - see item 6 in the Collins dictionary entry for "whip":
  3. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    This is a joke using a quaint feature of the UK parliament. MPs (Members of Parliament) are told what to do (when to vote, in particular) by a party official called a 'whip'. (Centuries ago they actually used one, I suppose.) A very, very important vote – one the MP must show up for – is signalled by a note to the MP that is underlined three times by the whip. This is called a three-line whip. So it is not a suggestion, it is a command that must be obeyed or you are in big trouble.

  4. colognial Senior Member

    Thank you both Loob and entangledbank. I now understand that the author of the 'malt' article is saying "I'm not simply encouraging my readers to eat malt loaves; I'm in fact telling readers they must go for it!" Is 'three-line whip' exactly how all English speakers from the UK construct and apply the metaphor? Do people not say, for instance, 'triple-lined event' or 'triple-lined command', meaning an important 'must attend' or 'must do'? Or, is 'three-line whip' a fixed expression by now?

    Aside: they didn't really use to whip party members in the old days, did they? Seems like a sure way to take all the fun out of being democratically elected!
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'd say it's a fixed expression, colognial.

    (And no, they didn't actually whip MPs. It's a term derived from hunting with packs of dogs:cool:.)
  6. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    Well you live and learn:) I'd always imagined three-line whip got its name from ... no, too embarrassing to say it:cool:

    I certainly wouldn't call it a common expression, and imagine that that percentage of UK 'voters' who aren't at all interested in politics (60-70% of the electorate) wouldn't know what it meant, especially when applied to butter on a malt loaf.

    The author here is saying, "You not only should put butter on your malt loaf: you must do so."
  7. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Anybody who is interested in the work of Parliament knows (at least roughly) what a three-line whip is.
    In a fox hunt, the "whipper in" has the job of keeping the hounds together and focused on the job in hand. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/whipper-in
    Similarly, each political party appoints "whips" to try to persuade MPs of the party to toe the party line (another Parliamentary idiom).
  8. colognial Senior Member

    Thank you, All. I suppose the purpose of having a whipper help with the hunt is in some ways diametrically opposed to the work that a beater (about the bush?) undertakes when the party is intent on shooting birds. As I've always understood the practice, the beater tries to shoo the birds out of hiding so they can scatter about in the air and be spotted.
  9. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    "Whip" comes from hunting foxes. "Beat" comes from shooting game birds. A shoot is not a hunt. There's no connection at all between "whipping-in" and "beating".
  10. colognial Senior Member

    Andygc, a shoot is not a hunt, I understand that. Thank you.

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