play a straight bat

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Verga, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. Verga New Member

    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Russian/Ukrainian
    Hi friends,
    Here are the definitions of "play a straight bat" from thefreedictionary.com:

    play a straight bat

    1. (British) to avoid answering someone's questions or giving them the information they want When asked about the affair, he plays a straight bat.
    2. (British old-fashioned) someone who plays a straight bat is honest and has traditional ideas and beliefs Wilf has played a straight bat all his life - I can't believe he'd get mixed up in anything illegal.
    See also: bat, play, straight
    Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission.

    This is the only source in which I came across the No.1 definition. The others I have looked up only give the No.2 one without marking it as old-fashioned. Which of the two meanings do you think is really cormmon? I've personally heard this expression in the not-so-old film "The Last King of Scotland" (about Idi Amin of Uganda).
     
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Do you have a question, Verga?
     
  3. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    Verga's question is "Which of the two meanings do you think is really cormmon?", TT.

    Meaning 1 is unfamiliar to me. I've only heard it as meaning 2, and not particularly often.
     
  4. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Thanks. I must be blind.

    Meaning 1 is unfamiliar to me too. I'd take the expression to mean that the person deals with people in a direct, clear, and honest manner.
     
  5. Verga New Member

    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Russian/Ukrainian
    Loads of thanks!
     
  6. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I have only heard meaning 2, too.

    To give you some additional information, Verga, the phrase is borrowed from cricket, where playing with a straight (vertical) bat is the orthodox, traditional method, as opposed to a horizontal bat, and is therefore considered "correct".
     
  7. dermott

    dermott Senior Member

    Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy
    B.E. via Australian English
    I've heard (1) used. As Barque says, it derives from cricket. In the case of (1), a straight-bat defensive shot.
     
  8. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I too have heard (1) used. It suggests to me that the answer is designed not to give anything away beyond the bare minimum necessary to deal with the literal meaning of the question.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  9. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I have heard "dead-batted the question" to mean (1) however.
     
  10. Szkot Senior Member

    Edinburgh
    UK English
    I have heard both. An example of 1:

    Newcastle play ... sentence with straight bat

    After the six-month jail sentence handed to ... yesterday, Newcastle issued a brief statement in the afternoon that gave little away as to their response.
     

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