as shifty as a 10 speed clutch

ESC85

Senior Member
Korean
Someone said "That guy is as shifty as a 10 speed clutch"

I would appreciate his/her commenting, should there be someone who can paraphrase this. :)
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Shifty, I understand to mean untrustworthy. A 10 speed clutch, presumably requires a lot shifting of gears, and as such could be humorously described as shifty. I imagine this to be more than the conventional number of gears, so it's likely to be very 'shifty', like the guy in the original.
     
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    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Technically, this is not correct as regards cars. A gearbox has speeds, not a clutch. A clutch simply connects the engine to the drive wheels and disconnects it from them during shifting. A clutch has no speeds, so there is no such thing as a "ten-speed clutch," a "four-speed clutch" or a clutch with any other number of speeds.

    That said, someone was trying to come up with a way to say "that guy is very shifty." This expression creates that impression, even though it makes no literal sense.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    That said, someone was trying to come up with a way to say "that guy is very shifty." This expression creates that impression, even though it makes no literal sense.
    So it's a 'black box' metaphor. Seeing as you have some mechanical nous, is there no sense in which the 'ten speed clutch' could be deemed shifty? Is it, for example associated with fast cars, i.e. cars that really shift - because that could work (I do hope it's not a bulldozer part)?
     
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    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Most of the cars I've owned, including the one I drive now, have had manual transmissions, even though some of them (an old Hillman comes to mind) weren't fast by any definition. I can assure you that a clutch does not shift, period. Never did. Never will.

    I've driven bulldozers, tractors and large trucks (BE lorries) too. Their clutches work the same way as automobile clutches. (Some bulldozers have a clutch on each track to facilitate turning, but the same statement applies to each of them.)
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    He coulda, shoulda said, "10-speed transmission."

    But what would the clutch for a 10-speed transmission be except a "10-speed clutch"? That would be different from a "5-speed clutch," i.e. the clutch for a 5-speed transmission.
     
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