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stiff upper lip Options
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 7:58:19 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
Posts: 1,112
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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Hello, everybody!

There's an AC/DC song called "Stiff Upper Lip". Here is part of the lyrics:

Well, I was out on a drive, on a bit of a trip
Looking for thrills to get me some kicks
Now, I warn you ladies, I shoot from the hip
I was born with a stiff, stiff upper lip
...

I keep a stiff upper lip
And I shoot from the hip
I keep a stiff upper lip
And I shoot, and I shoot
Shoot from the hip
Yeah, I shoot from the hip

etc...


From this context I can guess that having a "stiff upper lip" means something like being tough. Is it so? Is this a common expression, or an invention of the AC/DC?
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 8:15:16 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2009
Posts: 46,879
Neurons: 663,173
Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
Someone who has a stiff upper lip does not show their feelings when they are upset. Keep stoic and calm. Not exactly tough.
sureshot
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 8:15:48 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/16/2015
Posts: 3,103
Neurons: 494,563
Kirill Vorobyov wrote:
Hello, everybody!

There's an AC/DC song called "Stiff Upper Lip". Here is part of the lyrics:

Well, I was out on a drive, on a bit of a trip
Looking for thrills to get me some kicks
Now, I warn you ladies, I shoot from the hip
I was born with a stiff, stiff upper lip
...

I keep a stiff upper lip
And I shoot from the hip
I keep a stiff upper lip
And I shoot, and I shoot
Shoot from the hip
Yeah, I shoot from the hip

etc...


From this context I can guess that having a "stiff upper lip" means something like being tough. Is it so? Is this a common expression, or an invention of the AC/DC?

_________

The expression is common. Someone who has a stiff upper lip does not show their feelings when they are upset.
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 8:29:48 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
Posts: 1,112
Neurons: 5,492
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Thank you, JJ and Sureshot!

Okay. Then the fact that he shoots from the hip does tell us that he is kind of tough, doesn't it?

So:
... I shoot from the hip
I was born with a stiff, stiff upper lip


= I am tough and I don't let my emotions show when I am upset

Correct?
sureshot
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 9:03:41 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/16/2015
Posts: 3,103
Neurons: 494,563
Kirill Vorobyov wrote:
Thank you, JJ and Sureshot!

Okay. Then the fact that he shoots from the hip does tell us that he is kind of tough, doesn't it?

So:
... I shoot from the hip
I was born with a stiff, stiff upper lip


= I am tough and I don't let my emotions show when I am upset

Correct?

____________

Here, the idiom "shoot from the hip" means to react quickly or impulsively with a tinge of recklessness without caring for the consequences.
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 9:13:17 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
Posts: 1,112
Neurons: 5,492
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
sureshot wrote:


Here, the idiom "shoot from the hip" means to react quickly or impulsively with a tinge of recklessness without caring for the consequences.


I see, thank you! Then I gather this picture of the man:

He reacts quickly or impulsively with a tinge of recklessness, without caring for the consequences, and he never lets his embarrassement show.
Dancing

Damn, I used to love the song.

thar
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 9:31:46 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 25,449
Neurons: 103,256
Keeping a stiff upper lip is linked with English impassiveness, being unwilling to show strong emotion.


If you cry, the description is often of a quivering lip.
To keep a stiff upper lip is to not show emotion, however bad things get.
So, yes, it is partly about being tough, but it is more about not showing emotion. You still feel it. It is just not the done thing to show it.


Of course once it comes to songs, or even to using such a cliched phrase, it is open to all sorts of subversions and puns.
In this song, it is not the phrase actual meaning of the idiom 'a stiff upper lip'.
It is a mix of sexual metaphors, in my opinion. A pun on stiff, which means erect, sexually aroused. Lips are lips.
And shooting from the hip is... uhum. Well, if you can't get that one....Whistle


Nothing to do with being stoic! Just playing with an idiom to have some fun about men presenting themselves as being sexy. Dirty puns and sexual innuendo wrapped in idioms.




The stoicism and emotional control is the standard meaning of the idiom.
It may originally be an American phrase, but it is a stereotypical British value.

Quote:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)



tautophile
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 10:21:16 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/14/2018
Posts: 2,021
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I'm sure you've seen in movies or TV Westerns, a duel between two cowboys. Each one has a pistol--a revolver or "six-shooter' (because it typically held six bullets)--in a holster hanging from a belt around his waist, such that the handle of the pistol would be at hip level. The two cowboys--one of them usually a "bad guy" and the other a "good guy" (the hero or a lawman)--would slowly walk toward one another down the middle of the dusty street outside the saloon until they were, say, 10 yards or meters apart, their hands near but not on the handle their pistols. They would stare at one another, and they might taunt one another verbally. The suspense would grow. All of a sudden, one of them--usually the "bad guy"--would reach for his pistol; and the other would reach for his. They would draw their pistols as fast as they could and pull the trigger to shoot at the other guy as quickly as possible, holding the pistol at waist level--not lifting it to shoulder level to take careful aim. The two dueling cowboys could be described as "shooting from the hip".

The idea of shooting from the hip as describe above eventually came to mean "speak or act rashly, recklessly, or bluntly, without consideration of potential consequences." Meanwhile the practice of drawing one's pistol as fast as possible has become a "sport" or contest among devotees of the Old West. It's usually called a "fast draw"--cf. the WFDA, the World Fast Draw Association, the sport's governing body, which emphasizes safety. Contestants don't shoot at one another, but rather at paper targets.

In actual fact, the sort of duel I described above appears to be more or less the invention of writers of Western or cowboy novels and stories, and particularly of Hollywood moviemakers in the early 20th century. There are many famous example in Western movies and TV shows, such as the opening scene in the American TV series "Gunsmoke", or the climax of the "spaghetti Western" The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly--where three(!) characters shoot it out with one another. The idea of "shooting from the hip", either literally or figuratively, carries with it the idea of belligerency or quick temper or thoughtlessness.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 10:31:09 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2009
Posts: 46,879
Neurons: 663,173
Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
"What a nice day it is. I wonder what's the temperature?"
"Shooting from the hip I'd say it's well over twenty."

Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Friday, November 26, 2021 7:28:57 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
Posts: 1,112
Neurons: 5,492
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
tautophile wrote:
I'm sure you've seen in movies or TV Westerns, a duel between two cowboys. Each one has a pistol--a revolver or "six-shooter' (because it typically held six bullets)--in a holster hanging from a belt around his waist, such that the handle of the pistol would be at hip level. The two cowboys--one of them usually a "bad guy" and the other a "good guy" (the hero or a lawman)--would slowly walk toward one another down the middle of the dusty street outside the saloon until they were, say, 10 yards or meters apart, their hands near but not on the handle their pistols. They would stare at one another, and they might taunt one another verbally. The suspense would grow. All of a sudden, one of them--usually the "bad guy"--would reach for his pistol; and the other would reach for his. They would draw their pistols as fast as they could and pull the trigger to shoot at the other guy as quickly as possible, holding the pistol at waist level--not lifting it to shoulder level to take careful aim. The two dueling cowboys could be described as "shooting from the hip".

The idea of shooting from the hip as describe above eventually came to mean "speak or act rashly, recklessly, or bluntly, without consideration of potential consequences." Meanwhile the practice of drawing one's pistol as fast as possible has become a "sport" or contest among devotees of the Old West. It's usually called a "fast draw"--cf. the WFDA, the World Fast Draw Association, the sport's governing body, which emphasizes safety. Contestants don't shoot at one another, but rather at paper targets.

In actual fact, the sort of duel I described above appears to be more or less the invention of writers of Western or cowboy novels and stories, and particularly of Hollywood moviemakers in the early 20th century. There are many famous example in Western movies and TV shows, such as the opening scene in the American TV series "Gunsmoke", or the climax of the "spaghetti Western" The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly--where three(!) characters shoot it out with one another. The idea of "shooting from the hip", either literally or figuratively, carries with it the idea of belligerency or quick temper or thoughtlessness.


Yes, this kind of duel is exactly what I had in mind when trying to get into the meaning of "shoot from the hip".

However, Thar's suggestion that in this way the guys portray themselves as sexy... Well, I don't know - a quick reckless lover not caring about the consequences and showing no emotions... Maybe this is one way to portray yourself as sexy, probably not exactly the way I would choose. But then I hardly imagine myself ever bragging about my sexuality anyway, so I actually have no idea how I would picture it if I were to... So I thought about them just portraying themselves as being "tough". Though Thar is probably right about the intended meaning, as they do mention ladies in the first verse.

Thank you all very much, an interesting conversation, as always.
thar
Posted: Friday, November 26, 2021 8:03:47 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 25,449
Neurons: 103,256
this recklessness only part of the joke.

The shooting from the hip is physical! Picture a rock star pelvic thrust as they sing that line!

The idioms are wordplay, puns, a dirty joke. They are making fun of pop star sex cliches.

I was born with a stiff...

....stiff upper lip

And I Shoot, shoot, shoot
-those are not bullets.


Quote:
stiff
a word used as an adjective. to describe how a penis gets hard during sexual activity.
"OH GOD BEKY!, look at johny's pants...doesn't it look like he's got a stiff?"


and the phrasing....
I was born with a stiff....


this is one big joke all about songs about sex.
Using the idioms to make sexual innuendo is the joke.







Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Friday, November 26, 2021 8:37:22 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
Posts: 1,112
Neurons: 5,492
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
thar wrote:

The shooting from the hip is physical! Picture a rock star pelvic thrust as they sing that line!


Oh, that's right! I was blind about it.

thar wrote:


Quote:
stiff
a word used as an adjective. to describe how a penis gets hard during sexual activity.
"OH GOD BEKY!, look at johny's pants...doesn't it look like he's got a stiff?"



I never knew this one either.

thar wrote:

this is one big joke all about songs about sex.
Using the idioms to make sexual innuendo is the joke.


Yes, now I see. You've made me love this song again. Thank you, Thar!
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