Boot up the proverbial


Hi there,

I made a search in the forum, but I have found nothing similar to that, hence the topic.

I've been translating a book called A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve. There is this big conference and lord mayor is giving a speech. He, lord mayor, is angry at something the audience did and duly starts to shout at them (I don't want to say why he is angry as I don't want to spoil the book. It's not necessary anyway). Here is the passage:

"Now I'm a plain-speaking fellow," <lord mayor> went on, "so I won't mince my words. I haven't just come here to pat you on the back. I'm here to stiffen you up a bit; to give you a bit of a boot up the proverbial. To remind you that Victory is at hand!"
I kind of understand what he had to mean by that, but I want to be sure of that. Can you please guide me through this?

Thank you in advance
  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Proverbial" is a euphemism. To give someone a boot up the proverbial is to give him a kick up the backside/arse, however vulgar you want to be.

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    A boot up the arse/backside. A kick in the rear. The lord mayor doesn't want to use the word "backside" because it would be impolite or beneath his dignity. The phrase (and especially the last word) is well-enough known for everyone to understand it, it is "proverbial".
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