publicly spirited

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Senior Member
There are two things I’d like to ask about in this excerpt. I can’t make two threads because they are connected.
An elderly publicly spirited woman saw a mugger snatch a handbag from a girl, followed him and made him give it to her. Then she demanded that they go and find a policeman to arrest him.
“Ma’am, - he replied,- don’t push your luck!”

I think he meant she’d been lucky enough to get the bag and she wanted too much. Is it a common idiom?
Thank you.
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)

    You're right about "don't push your luck".
    The mugger is suggesting that she has been lucky that he has returned the bag - perhaps, indeed, that she has been lucky he was not violent.

    Having got this far, to expect him to come along meekly to find a policeman and allow himself to be arrested is, indeed pushing her luck!


    England, English
    You're right - the mugger meant that she'd been lucky in the first place in getting him to give back the bag but it would have been asking too much to let himself be arrested.

    The idiom is fairly common in colloquial usage. It is normally used when people try to be cheeky, or get away with more than they should.
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