Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Balls to the wall

I always thought that Balls To The Wall was a phrase that derived from historic steam engine usage. After acting smart when explaining this to a friend, I decided to checkup on my facts. I discovered a site, Wordorigins.org that states the following:

The phrase balls to the wall, meaning an all-out effort, comes from the world of aviation. On an airplane, the handles controlling the throttle and the fuel mixture are often topped with ball-shaped grips, referred to by pilots as (what else?) "balls." Pushing the balls forward, close to the front wall of the cockpit increases the amount of fuel going to the engines and results in the highest possible speed.

And, to top it off, the site follows with this "mis-conception": ... it arose in railroad work. A speed governor on train engines would have round, metal weights at the end of arms. As the speed increased, the spinning balls would rise--being perpendicular to the walls at maximum speed. But there is no evidence to support this story.

So, I guess I got duped on this one. But, at least I've got the real story now.

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