[drew the short straw to] vs [drew the short straw and had to]

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High on grammar

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone:

Are the following sentences similar in meaning?

a. I drew the short straw and had to work over the holidays.
b. I drew the short straw to work over the holidays.
Source: Myself

Sentence (b) sounds like he did it on purpose. In other words, he volunteered to stay and work over the holidays.

Thanks
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    As GF points out, the procedure for drawing straws involves the choosers not knowing which straw is the short one.

    I see (b) as an unusual, but possible, version of (a). Think of the "to work..." phrase not as modifying the act of drawing (which would imply your "on purpose" meaning), but as modifying the short straw (i.e. to describe the purpose of the short straw = "if you draw the short straw, then you will work over the holidays"). There could, for example, be two short straws (perhaps distinguished from each other by having slightly different lengths), one for working over the holidays, and one for working night shift next week.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Well, even metaphorical straws will tend to exclude the possibility of the victim making a deliberate choice. Or perhaps the term "volunteering" is being used euphemistically. It might be the boss making the "choice" and telling you that you "have volunteered" for the duty in question.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    What is a close equivalent of '' to draw a short straw''? Can I use "fall to" as in [ It fell to me to work over the holidays] ?

    Thanks again.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    What is a close equivalent of '' to draw a short straw''? Can I use "fall to" as in [ It fell to me to work over the holidays] ?

    Thanks again.
    Well, maybe.
    The "drew the short straw" metaphor implies random selection.
    "It fell to me to work over the holidays" could be because you were the poor soul with the least seniority.
     
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