"throw someone a curve (ball)"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Ume, May 14, 2008.

  1. Hello.

    - The boss really threw me a curve ball when he told me to deliver my report today instead of next week.

    - Simon always gets the highest marks in class but says he never studies at home. I can't believe it. He must be throwing me a curve.

    "throw someone a curve (ball)"
    Is the phrase often used in day-to-day speech?
    If someone surprises you by doing something that you don't expect, he gives you a curve ball, doesn't he?
  2. johnp

    johnp Senior Member

    Yes, and you can still hear it, although maybe not so much among the younger generation.
  3. johnp,
    Thank you.

    - The boss really threw me a curve ball when he told me to deliver my report today instead of next week.

    Do young people say instead, "The boss really left me at a loss for an answer when..."?
  4. johnp

    johnp Senior Member

    Maybe they would use "He really surprised me..." Or "I couldn't believe it when the boss..." Another similar expression, that again may not be used by the younger generation, is "It really threw me for a loop when the boss..." Or "The boss really threw me for a loop when he..."
  5. johnp,
    Thank you.

    The Oxford Dictionary says:
    knock / throw sb for a loop
    (NAmE, informal) to shock or surprise sb: The result of the election knocked most people for a loop.
  6. gasman Senior Member

    Canada, English
    I believe it is still a common term in at least my part of the world, where baseball is the be-all and end-all of summer, and a curve ball is a difficult one to recognise and hit.
  7. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I share with gasman the assumption that the term comes from baseball.
    A curve ball is thrown by a pitcher. It approaches a hitter or batter, who swings
    a club at the spot where the ball would be if it were to travel in a straight line.
    The ball, however, curves to the left or right of its original trajectory, which can
    surprise or confuse a person who expects a thrown ball to move directly from the
    pitcher to the catcher in a straight line. From this sports term we derive the figurative meaning. It has been in use in AE since the late nineteenth century.


Share This Page