bottle / a lot of bottle / bottle out / lost his bottle

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bottle / a lot of bottle / bottle out / lost his bottle

Post by Archived Topic » Wed Dec 15, 2004 9:54 am

Anyone care to break down this british gem?
Submitted by Gregg MacDonald (Halifax - Canada)

[h]Posted - 13 Jul 2007 : 09:49:56[/h] I know what "Dutch courage" (however racist that may be) means, but today I was reminded again of "bottle" which may be related, or may not. I can't find any stated link.
My audio memory says I have usually heard the word pronounced as "bo'ul", which sounds southern UK, and in case it isn't generally known outside the UK, the meaning is something like 'courage' or 'balls', as in 'He's got a lot of bottle' meaning 'He's likely to have a go at a seemingly difficult (and perhaps personally dangerous) task'.
Any ideas on the origins?

Tony Farq
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bottle / a lot of bottle / bottle out / lost his bottle

Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:07 am

Bottle = bottle and glass = arse (i. e. courage)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cockney_rhyming_slang
Incidently, bottle and glass can also mean class.
So, if you say someone's 'gotta lotta bo'ole', you could be complimenting him in one of two ways!

Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:21 am

I you're interested in this subject, the website http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk is probably a better place to start as it lists English to cockney as well as cockney to English.

I'd love talk more but it's time I went 'up the wooden hill', or should I say 'apples and pears' for a 'feather and flip'?
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:34 am

I believe it refers to bottle as in alcohol, if you are drunk you'll be brave enough to do something. Also, it is "a lot" not "alot".
Reply from Kirsty - (- - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:47 am

Gregg, “Milk’s gotta lotta bottle” was a popular advertising slogan in Britain about 20 years ago.
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Ken G – December 11, 2004

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:01 am

A bottle, however is called an "aris" (pronounced "'arris" or "ari" (pronounced "'arry"). When I was living in London's East End in the early 1980s, I once heard a fellow in a pub saying to the barman "Give us an ari of pig's!"
Explanation:
Bottle=> Aristotle=> aris=> ari
Beer=> pig's ear=> pig's

Reply from Simon Beck (London - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:14 am

Rhyming slang is actually a very much alive part of the current English language, even though sometimes people don’t realise it, as many of the original slang words have been absorbed by the language. One of the confusions for those who are exposed to this usage of “English English” is that usually, the whole phrase isn’t used…just the first word…as in “Me plates are killin’ me.” (Plates of meat = feet) Or, “Fancy a Ruby?” (Ruby Murray = curry.) Although these are not much in use outside the Home Counties area, it’s surprising how wide-spread the usage has become. On one of my recent posts, I wrote something about “taking the mickey” out of something…a common enough expression. I was surprised to find that the origins of this come from Mickey Bliss…as in “I’m just going for a mickey.” (Mickey Bliss = piss.) From this has emerged the politer and more general usage, “to take the mickey out of something or someone.”

More engaging still is that many expressions are compound or secondary…have been developed from existing rhyming slang.“He’s a right Charlie” has nothing to do with Chaplin. Follow this through…
“Berk” (or burk”) is an insulting term…”he’s a right berk.” Origins…RS “Berkshire hunt” = “cu*t”. A compounded RS word then became based on this…”Charlie Smirke” = “berk”…shortened to “Charlie”. Thus “He’s a right Charlie” = “berk” and “berk” = “cu*t”. (Chaarlie Smirke was a famous jockey in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s.)

Which brings us back to “bottle”. I’m afraid that “bottled” as in “drunk” is not quite so literal! Although it originally had a dual meaning (as outlined by Leighton above) it is now generally used to mean “courage”. It has also implications of being a bit cheeky too. “He’s got a lot of bottle” can be said admiring, or indignantly, if the geezer referred to is “out of order” in some way. The phrase is used in several ways…”He bottled out”, as in “he lost his nerve”. “He hasn’t got the bottle for that”, as in “he hasn’t got the guts to do it”. “He’s lost his bottle”, as in “he no longer has the guts/courage to do this”. The original rhyming slang “bottle and glass” = arse. (used in a similar way to “chutzpah”) evolved into this very commonly used expression today.
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:27 am

GRIN!
If you want a bit of fun, go to http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/rabbit_2.asp
I just tred a translation of "I'm really tired and need a sleep, but need to go to the toilet first"
Translation?
"Gawdon Bennet! I'm really Barb wired an' need a Bo Peep but i 'ave ter Scapa Flow ter da bobba lobby. OK?"
Conversationally that would be "Strewth! I'm dead barbed and need a Bo Peep but I gotta scarper to the bobba first."
Reply from Robert Masters (Asia - Thailand)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:41 am

ps.
I'm still looking up "bobby lobby" 'cos I've never heard this one. Anyway, must break-off...need to go for a jimmy!
R
Reply from Robert Masters (Asia - Thailand)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:54 am

Just a slight correction Ken.
The actual advertising warcry in the campaign for milk in UK was:
"Milk has got a lotta bottle. Milk has got a lotta bottle.""

{{Gregg, “Milk’s gotta lotta bottle” was a popular advertising slogan in Britain about 20 years ago.
Ken G – December 11, 2004}}
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
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bottle / a lot of bottle / bottle out / lost his bottle

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:56 am

[The following newer postings have been combined with the older postings on the same topic. -- Forum Moderator] [h]Posted - 13 Jul 2007 : 09:56:57[/h] Scotch?

gdwdwrkr

[h]Posted - 13 Jul 2007 : 10:35:04[/h] Just thoughts.

For me there is a subtle difference between these. For me "Courage" or "balls" is used to describe a cool and calculated taking of a risk. Whereas "bottle" is used (more frequently) to describe an adrenaline, alcohol or poorly-considered taking of a risk.

tony h

[h]Posted - 13 Jul 2007 : 10:57:12 [/h] But "Lost his bottle", means he has decided better of it regardless of the length of time involved.

"He stood up to the thug, but when it came to it, he lost his bottle"
"He was booked to perform back in March, but by the time it got to June he had lost his bottle"

Bob in Wales

[h]Posted - 13 Jul 2007 : 10:59:41[/h] "He bottled out" also means the same thing.

Erik Kowal

[h]Posted - 13 Jul 2007 : 21:46:38[/h] I don't believe I've ever heard this expression here in the US. "BOTTOMED" out, yes -- but it means something else. This is really new to me. "He lost his bottle" means the person misplaced the fancy water for which he paid a dollar and a half.

Shelley

[h]Posted - 14 Jul 2007 : 18:21:24[/h] Except, I gather, as of recently in New York?

Tony Farg

[h]Posted - 14 Jul 2007 : 18:55:49[/h] Tony forgive, but elucidate

dalehileman

[h]Posted - 15 Jul 2007 : 10:19:51[/h] Well, I heard last week that due to the exceptionally hot weather in N.Y. there has been a massive increase in the amount of bottled water being drunk, which has led to an exceptional amount of plastic going into landfill, which has led to the Mayor heading a campaign to encourage New Yorkers to drink the perfectly palatable tap water instead...a campaign which it was said is also taking place on the west coast somewhere...possibly California.
I assumed that if I knew about this in my backwater in Wales, that all you folks over there must know about it!
Sorry!

Tony Farg

[h]Posted - 12 Oct 2007 : 19:38:04[/h] I have heard it said that 'bottle' in this context is short for 'bottle and glass', a Cockney rhyming slang expression for 'arse'. The reference here is seemingly to the loss of control of bodily functions sometimes experienced by someone in the grip of a great fear. I have tried to confirm this in various on-line dictionaries of slang but without success.

Big Squirrel

Mark (a.k.a. Big Squirrel), It would seem that the simple answer, as mentioned above, would be that ‘bottle’ implied courage as gained from a liquor bottle, as in ‘Dutch courage,’ but I haven’t found any proponents of that view in any source I’ve checked. All sources seem to say that it is related to the rhyming slang ‘bottle and glass’ for ‘arse’ and some say that arse means ‘bottom,’ which also has the meaning ‘firmness of character,’ But the connection from ass/arse to loss of courage that you offer seems fairly reasonable also, and you’ll be happy to hear that the venerable Brewer’s as well as the Oxford Dictionary of Slang think so too:

Brewer’s Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable (2002) compiled by Adrian Room

BOTTLE OUT: To lose one’s nerve or ‘bottle.’ The latter word apparently comes from ‘bottle and glass, rhyming slang for ‘arse,’ perhaps with a reference to the temporary incontinence experienced by an apprehensive or ‘shit-scared’ person.
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Oxford Dictionary of Slang (1998) by John Ayto

BOTTLE (1958) British: Probably from obsolete slang no bottle no good, useless, but often popularly associated with rhyming slang bottle and glass arse, and other similar expressions, perhaps with the connotation (in phrase ‘lose one’s bottle’) of temporary incontinence associated with extreme fear. “The government is losing its bottle and is using ‘concern for environment’ as something of an excuse to renege on promises and punish the motorist.”—S. Dyer, 1991

BOTTLE OUT (1979) British: From bottle courage. “Why did Ken Livingstone ‘bottle out’ and vote to set a legal GLC [[ground level concentration]] rate?”—Times, 1985
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Here is what some others had to say about BOTTLE:

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang (2005) by Jonathon Green

BOTTLE noun: 2) [1910s and still in use] Courage, bravery; thus has your bottle fallen out? are you afraid? [abbreviation of ‘bottle and glass’ [[the rhyming slang for ‘the buttocks’]] which in turn, plays on the 18th-century Standard English ‘bottom,’ character]. 5) [2000s] A person, usually in a derogatory sense.
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Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang (2002) by John Ayto

BOTTLE [[under the heading ‘Courage and its Lack’]]: Metaphors don’t get much more unheroic than bottle, which has been used for ‘courage’ in British slang since at least the 1950s, and came to a wider public (mainly via television crime dramas) in the mid-1970s. Its origins are still in dispute, but one school of thought makes it a reduction of ‘bottle and glass,’ rhyming slang for arse. Proponents of this point to the metaphorical use of bottom for ‘firmness of character’ or ‘staying power’ since the late 18th century.
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A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2002) by Eric Partridge, edited by Paul Beale

BOTTLE noun: 4) Short for bottle and glass [[rhyming slang]], arse, low. 20th century. Especially, in the later 20th century sense, ‘Spirts, guts, courage . . . it’s the worst that could be said about you, that you had lost your bottle.’ (Tony Park, The Plough Boy, 1965.)
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Oxford English Dictionary (1989)

In various slang uses:

(a) NO BOTTLE noun: No good; bad(ly), useless(ly).
<1846 “She thought it would be NO BOTTLE, cos her rival could go in a buster.”—‘Swell’s Night Guide,’ page 76>

<1931 “When he got up the steps, he had a mouthpiece who was NO BOTTLE.”—W.F. Brown in ‘Police Journal,’ October, page 501>
(d) BOTTLE noun: Courage, spirit, ‘guts’; especially in phrase to lose one's bottle, to lose one's nerve. This use probably derives from the phrase no bottle ‘no good, useless’ (sense (a) above). It is however often popularly associated with the rhyming slang term bottle and glass = ‘arse’ and other similar expressions.
<1958 “We all began to ask each other . . . why he hadn't made a dash for it. ‘What's the matter Frank, YOUR BOTTLE FALLEN OUT?’”—‘Bang to Rights: An Account of Prison Life’ by F. Norman, page 62>

<1965 “It's the worst that could be said about you, that you'd LOST YOUR BOTTLE.”—“Sunday Times,’ 30 May, page 24/3>

<1969 “You've gotta have a helluva LOT OF BOTTLE to do something like that, and I believe that Morrison did it out of sheer contempt.”–‘It,’ 4-17 July, page 11/2>

<1978 “Clowns in the social world of soccer fans . . . aspire to being hooligans but LACK THE ‘BOTTLE’ to succeed in such a role.”—‘Rules of Disorder’ by P. Marsh et al, iii. page 73>

<1982 “Danny's real hard, and got a certain amount of BOTTLE.”—“Old ‘Vengeful’” by A. Price, vii, page 114>

<1985 “I don't think I handled the intrusion so well. I tend to LOSE MY ‘BOTTLE.’—‘T.V. Times,’ 31 August - 6 September, page 17/1>
Ken G – October 12, 2007
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bottle / a lot of bottle / bottle out / lost his bottle

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:45 am

By coincidence, today's weekly newsletter from Michael Quinion (who many visitors here will know from his World Wide Words website) also discusses this usage of 'bottle':

Topical Words: Bottle

For several weeks, the staff of the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has been talking up the possibility of an autumn election to provide him with a personal mandate after the resignation of Tony Blair in the summer (in Britain, when to call an election is in the power of the current PM) but then last weekend he decided not to go ahead. The good showing by the opposition Conservative Party in the opinion polls after their annual conference is said to have been a factor. This change of heart has produced great numbers of media comments that adversely mention "Brown" and "bottle" in the same sentence.

As some examples: the political editor of the Sunday newspaper The People reported last weekend, "Gordon Brown bottled out of a snap election last night." The Times of India commented the same day: "In a sign Brown's honeymoon may be well and truly over, the prime ministerial u-turn is being parodied by almost the entire British media as 'Bottler Brown', with the press having a field day about his indecisiveness and cynical manipulation." The following day, a half dozen Conservative activists dressed up as bottles (Newcastle Brown ale, naturally) as a PR stunt outside Downing Street with the same slogan "Bottler Brown" (see http:/wwwords.org?BNBA for a pic). A writer to the Daily Telegraph that day asked, "Since the Prime Minister has so dramatically 'bottled it', could Brown become a new bottle size, like magnum or jeroboam?"

The implications behind "bottle" were explained by Tony Park in The Plough Boy in 1965: "Spirits, guts, courage ... It's the worst that could be said about you, that you'd lost your bottle."

Though its origins are misty, we have some clues. "No bottle" was widely used from the middle of the nineteenth century to refer to something useless. Around the 1920s, we had "no bottle and glass" as rhyming slang meaning that a person lacked class, in the sense of being unimpressive or without style. This would seem to have been taken also to mean lacking in courage. Around this time the rhyming slang expression "bottle and glass" was used to mean arse ("ass" for US readers) and this seems to have been an influence that led to forms like "Has your bottle fallen out?" which may suggest that "bottle" in such forms figuratively means "guts".

The earliest example of "bottle" that I know of appeared in 1958 in Frank Norman's book Bang to Rights, an account of prison life. The verb, meaning to lose one's nerve or chicken out, is first recorded at the end of the 1970s. Noun and verb, in various expressions, were popularised by a wave of demotic writing and gritty television programmes of the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Sweeney and Minder, that brought the slang of London to a wider audience. In the 1980s, copywriters working for the Milk Marketing Board popularised it further with a slogan for their product: "It's gotta lotta bottle" (it has to be said with glottal stops to give it its full flavour). Interestingly, it was alluded to, in the form "Notta Lotta Bottle", on a placard held by one of Monday's bottle-garbed demonstrators outside Downing Street.

After its heyday 30 years ago, "bottle", either as "bottle out" or "lose your bottle", has not quite vanished from the British slang lexicon, though in recent decades it has tended to reside in that graveyard of outmoded expressions, the sports pages. So why the sudden and near-unanimous burst of usage now? Step forward into the limelight Euro RSCG, a huge French-owned global advertising agency that has just been appointed by the Conservative party. I'd guess a middle-aged account executive made the conceptual links "Brown" -> "Brown ale" -> "bottle" -> "bottle out" -> "Bottler Brown" (with a side memory of milk adverts) and went on from there.

And it worked splendidly.
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