Muck and bullets

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  • This thread appeared in the French-English forum: muck and bullet

    Muck and bullets certainly sounds like an idiomatic expression. Google results suggest a context like
    I was up to my ears in muck and bullets.

    I understand it, but it's unfamiliar. Can you shed any light on the etymology?

    Thanks!
    Hi Kelly,

    As far as I recall this phrase originated during WWI. British soldiers described the horrors of the trenches as "being up to their neck in muck and bullets" .

    Regards,
    LRV
     

    balaam

    Senior Member
    french (belgium)
    as the comics is draw by an englishman, it is probably the correct explanation in this context.

    thanks a lot, your altesse
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Google, HERE, though not a formal analysis.

    To me it just sounds like "mud up to my ears" and "bullets flying" - thus Viet Nam or the trench warfare of WWI.
     
    Duffy has set out to cut through the reminiscences of veterans in old age, contaminated by our collective memory, their stories 'neatly packed with what we wanted to hear ... up to my neck in muck and bullets; rats as big as footballs; the sergeant major was a right bastard; all my mates were killed'.
    Source. Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916

    LRV
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    So does the expression in bolded mean? The links are no longer valid. So an inline definition will be appreciated.

    ‘It’s just a quickie, Doc. I’m up to my proverbial in muck and bullets. So what’s happening?’
    Source: Hunted on the Fens by Joy Ellis.
     
    Last edited:

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Have you left a word out of your quoted text, jacdac? Also, what is going on in the story at this point? The quote doesn’t offer much context.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Have you left a word out of your quoted text, jacdac?
    In fact there will be nothing "left out". It is a common BE saying/expression in which the noun is always ellipsed. The noun can be either the relevant noun from a proverb, expression, or saying, or can be a euphemism.

    I’m up to my proverbial in muck and bullets. can therefore mean I’m up to my neck/arse in muck and bullets.

    The plural "proverbials" is also used and can either mean eyes/ears or balls.

    In all events, it means (as per previous posts) "I'm in a lot of trouble", often in the sense of "having many pressing problems cause by thing beyond one's control."
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    There is a lot happening at this point of the novel and it iis tricky to provide a meaningful context.
    In this scene, detective inspector Joseph is speaking to Liam Feehily who is a detective with the PSNI based in Belfast. I am not sure why he addressed him as Doc. He had contacted him in relation to an international syndicate of hire-a-hitman criminal organisation. At the local police station, Joseph is facing too many issues at all fronts: one policeman was crushed to pulp when a stolen car rammed him, another copper is hospitalised, another copper’s personal account was hacked and all his money gone, there is a killer on the loose,.... the list goes on.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s natural to assume (for obvious reasons – “the trenches” and all that) that “up to one's neck in muck and bullets” is a saying from the First World War. But the earliest mention I could find of it in Google Books is 1963, which ties in with the comment in an old thread on another forum that it was a catchphrase of the 20th-century British comedian Arthur Haynes.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I suspect that the link is that Arthur Haynes was imitating the general speech of an "old soldier" - a WW1 soldier.

    It seems to be similar to the story that ends "It's hard to remember that your job is to drain the swamp when you're up to your arse in crocodiles." (Wiktionary) :D
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suspect that the link is that Arthur Haynes was imitating the general speech of an "old soldier" - a WW1 soldier.
    Yes, absolutely. And I don’t know if it’s true that he coined that phrase so many years later, but it seems annoyingly plausible.
     
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