raring to go

Thomas Tompion

Member Emeritus
English - England
I'm surprised that this hasn't yet reared its no doubt disagreeable-looking head.

Keen students of the language listening to the radio will have been inwardly sneering, perhaps, at the growing habit of some people to say rearing to go, as opposed to what I have long regarded as the correct raring to go.

That underused resource, the WR dictionary, gives raring as an adjective and leaves it at that, but I've been wondering about this verb to rare and what it means.

I found a dictionary this morning which tells me that to rare is an English dialect form of to rear and dates from as recently as 1909. This suggests that rearing to go is as, if not more, correct than raring to go. I have an image of a horse rearing on its hind legs to get a spring into its step, almost performing the action which the French describe as se reculer pour mieux sauter. So I stuffed that in my pedant's pipe and am smoking it.

What do members say? Are you raring to go, or rearing to go?
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  • In my part of the world, of course, it doesn't matter because the dialect form of rear is pronounced as rare in any case :)
    I don't think I have ever wanted to write "raring/rearing to go" so I don't know how I would choose to spell it - probably as it sounds, raring.

    The OED tells me that "raring to go" is based on that US and dialect form of rear, pronounced rare. The US reference may well be due to this form having been exported from Scotland/Ireland.
    An opinion poll, how interesting ;), here's something for you to chew on as you smoke your pipe :D

    I'd say raring to go (to do); I would be very enthusiastic about going somewhere or starting something.
    I would use "to rear (up)" as in "to rise", to rear one's head at a sudden noise.
    Like most small boys of my generation and those before, I learned this expression from
    black and white cowboy movies (a Scottish/Irish import, panj?). Think Randolph Scott or Gabby Hayes. In any event, the rearing (pron. reering) vs. rairing (pron. rairing) debate is moot. The cowboys always said rarin. The first syllable rhymes with air.

    Happy pipe chew, Thomas. :)
    Hi TT

    I haven't noticed people saying "rearing to go", and until today, I wouldn't have connected "raring to go" with "rearing".

    I'm always learning something new here in WRFland:)

    Hope that's not wacky baccy you've got there...
    Google UK gives:

    22,000 hits for rearing to go.
    1,100,000 hits for raring to go.

    The Urban Dictionary has a piece about rearing to go.

    and also (under raring) this interesting example sentence, Whitewater rafting is something we've all been raring to do for the summer, which seems to me to have lost sight of the horse altogether.
    Horses can be raring to go into the water. http://www.geocities.com/arojann.geo/acpc16.jpg

    Cambridge UP, in their Int'l. Dict. of Idioms, also omits the horse:

    be raring to go

    to be full of energy and ready to do something
    At three in the morning he was still wide awake and raring to go.

    Silly of me, Cuchu. I should have been clearer. I'm only familiar with the expression raring to go - horses rear when they are keen to go but prevented from doing so by their riders.

    Raring to do something was an expression which seemed to me to have lost sight of the horse, because there are lots of things which horses are keen to do, like drinking, or sniffing out other horses, while they don't usually rear in impatience.
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    Raring .. or rather not really raring at all today due to yesterday's over-exuberance.

    With "raring" being rare, I guess some people may be hearing "rearing" because it's a word they know. It's a bit like a friend of mine who used to come out with "I just can't be asked!" She could not believe it when we corrected her!
    I hear "raring to go" and use it myself.

    In my part of the UK, it is pronounced "rearing" in any event. As "there" is pronounced "theer".

    I had often thought there was a connection between "rearing" and "raring", so TT's discovery is not surprising to me.
    Where I live, I have only heard rearing in the sense of "child rearing". People and animals can be "rarin' to go", and a horse might "rare up and buck" if it doesn't like something. If a horse sees a snake, it might "rare up and stomp on it." (Texas is just across the state line from Arkansas.)
    Hi Forero
    I too had associated "rearing" with child rearing (or animals of other species!) - but I found an organization in the UK called "Raring2go " - it provides eager (raring to go) parents a way of making money while at home rearing their young children.
    Who says you can't have your cake and eat it?
    Welcome to the forum, Miss Matty.

    I would say an animal rears its young, but for some reason I woudn't say I reared my dog.

    My dictionary says this rear meant "raise" in Old English but raise, though it is related to rear and rise, comes from Old Norse. I wonder if rare is a blend of raise and rear.
    Good Morning Forero
    I was thinking of the expression "to hand rear" an animal (usually one abandoned my its natural mother, often in the context of zoos). Also do we not speak of breeders "rearing" certain animal?
    Oxford online suggests rare is a dialectical variant of roar or rear.

    I have never heard or seen "rearing to go". It's definitely "raring to go".
    Yes, that's it. The essence of the thread is, I think, that, in both BE and AE, we mostly say and write raring to go - I don't think the verb has much existence outside this attributive present participle - but there are some people who surprisingly but apparently correctly prefer to say rearing to go. I don't know if others would regard that as a reasonable summary.
    AE - I use rarin' to go (= enthusiastic; anxious to begin; wide awake) frequently but no other form (a set phrase); always with the elided 'g'. Other responders have indicated other uses as synonymous to rearing in the rising horse sense.

    I seem to reserve rearing for the action of a horse, or for bringing animals and children from birth to adulthood. Not (in either case) of breeding them. And never to mean enthusiastic, etc.

    It's nice to see a topic revived; it means that someone has actually searched it out instead of starting a new one.