off their own bat

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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off their own bat

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:31 pm


<2013 “They all remembered unnerving cases where missing kids had turned up hidden in obscure corners of houses and flats, sometimes off their own bat.”—Cross and Burn by Val McdDermid, page 121>

Some more British slang. I’ve got to stop reading so many books by Brits:


DO SOMETHING OFF YOUR OWN BAT (UK informal): To do something without anyone else telling you or asking you to do it. < I didn't ask her to buy them a present - she did it off her own bat.>


BAT noun [1706]: The wooden implement with rounded handle and flattened blade used to strike or ‘bat’ the ball in cricket.
< 1706 “Bat . . .a kind of Club to strike a Ball with, at the Play call'd Cricket.”—Phillips’s New World of Words (edition 6)>
Hence the phrase,

OFF HIS OWN BAT, in reference to the score made by a player's own hits; figuratively solely by his own exertions, by himself.

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1742 “The bets on the Slendon man's head that he got 40 notches off his own bat were lost.”—Cricket Scores (1899) by H. T. Waghorn, page 29>

<1865 “It is a mistake . . . to suppose that Lord Palmerston did everything off his own bat after 1834.”—Fraser’s Magazine, November, page 667>

<1939 “All his Inventions are off his own bat.”—Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, page 30>

<1996 “. . . but did not consult Peter Lever, the bowling coach who admitted yesterday he had conceived the idea - ‘off my own bat ’ - of shortening Malcolm's run and altering his delivery stride.”—Daily Mail (London), 21 May>

<2000 Was it an unguarded remark? Was it a calculated remark made off his own bat?The Mirror (London), 17 October>

<2004 “ It was said Bowen was angling for an improved contract off his own bat, but he denied the slant of the suggestion.”—Birmingham Evening Mail (England), 3 August>

<2009 “This is something I wanted to do off my own bat. I have never done anything like this before.”—Daily Post (Liverpool, England), 22 September>

<2013 “They only come up to training one night a week with us, but they're training five days a week and do it off their own bat.”—Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland), 26 April>

<2016 “‘She was in the same year as Jaime at school and felt compelled to do something,’ he said. ‘She did it all off her own bat.’ Abbey had her hair cut . . .”—North Devon Journal (England), 7 January>

Ken G — January 30, 2016 (Who keeps extra bats in his belfry)
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Re: off their own bat

Post by Bobinwales » Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:15 pm

Keep reading Ken! If you want to see some interesting usages try to get hold of "The Rape of the Fair Country" by Alexander Cordell. Cordell was an Englishman who loved Wales, its history and culture. The other two books of the trilogy are "The Hosts of Rebecca" and "The Song of the Earth". I am pretty sure that they are all out of print now, but are my joy.
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Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: off their own bat

Post by trolley » Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:20 pm

When I read the title of this thread I was guessing it would mean crazy.... "That guy is off his own bat!"
I guess I'm off my own trolley.
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Re: off their own bat

Post by tony h » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:49 am

There is, I believe, a subtlety in this phrase which can be missed. It can denote somebody's specific contribution to a team result OR that a given result was achieved without support from a team. In other words, it concerns the relationship to individual endeavour of the availability of support for that endeavour.

So being "the sole survivor of a plane crash in the desert and walking the 200 miles to safety" could not be described as "off his own bat"; whereas " he decided to sneak away from the camp and walked 200 miles to safety and alerted rescuers" would be "off his own bat".

So a description like "she decided, off her own bat, to make a shepherd's pie" denotes more than just her decision to make the pie. It implies that she had made her decision without the support and encouragement or (possibly) direction that would normally be expected in order for her to make that decision.

Essentially, according to my interpretation it is the difference between the team score and the contribution to that score from an individual player.
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Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: off their own bat

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:32 am

Well put Tony. I believe that the subtleties of idioms are often lost over time and become grouped in with other "similar" idioms and considered interchangeable.

WoZ who is definitely not interchangeable
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

End of topic.
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