raring to go

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Thomas Tompion, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    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?
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    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.
  3. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    UK English (& rusty French…)
    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.
  4. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    I'm the same as Teafrog. (But a nicer shade of green. And not wearing a pirate's hat.)
  5. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    UK English (& rusty French…)
    It's old Horatio's hat, Ewie ;). He must be turning in his grave (rearing his skull) at being called a pirate :D
  6. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    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. :)
  7. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    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...
  8. Miss Matty Jenkyns Member

    English English
    I'm for "raring" - "rearing" not only doesn't sound right I can't find any reference to it in the meaning of eager and energized, ie "raring ".
  9. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    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.
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    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.
  11. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    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.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  12. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I would be raring to go if it weren't a Bank Holiday. I don't do much rearing, as far as I am aware.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  13. 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!
  14. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    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.
  15. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Anyone rearing/raring to return to the thread topic?
  16. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    From the Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=rare)

    "rare (v.)
    "rise up," 1833, dialectal variant of rear (v.). Sense of "eager" (in raring to go) first recorded 1909."

    This definition of "rare" helps to explain the transition to a sense of eagerness.
  17. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    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.)
  18. Miss Matty Jenkyns Member

    English English
    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?
  19. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    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.
  20. Miss Matty Jenkyns Member

    English English
    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?
  21. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    That makes sense. Farmers, zookeepers, and breeders rear various animals, usually either large or wild ones. Does it seem odd to you to say "I reared my dog", or is it just me?
  22. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    UK English (& rusty French…)
    It definitely does :D. I would opt for "I bred my dog", or something like that…
  23. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    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".
  24. Cross Country runner! New Member

    One query: so then is "raring to" sort of like "longing to", "yearning for" and "craving for".Well, I'm raring to ascertain about this.
  25. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    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.
  26. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    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.

Share This Page