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#1
Old 05-09-2006, 10:50 AM
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What does it mean to give someone stick?

I think it's a British-ism, but I'm not sure if it means to give him grief, or to cut hm some slack. Either could apply to the present situation, and I'm wondering what I'm being asked to do, go harder or go softer on someone. Anyone familiar with the expression?
#2
Old 05-09-2006, 11:04 AM
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If you're giving me stick, then I won't be too happy because you'll be making my life harder or giving me grief. It's usually used in reference to someone else's poor performance.
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Old 05-09-2006, 11:08 AM
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Related to "the carrot and the stick", perhaps?
#4
Old 05-09-2006, 11:11 AM
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Yeah, it's used in my part of the world too. It just means to verbaly upbraid, lecture, or repremand somebody. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think there's also a sense of being let off lightly. For example, a traffic cop lecturing you then letting you go without a fine could be said to have 'given you some stick'. Copping the fine wouldn't count as having been given stick.

It's what you do to naughty kids without smacking them on the bum/ sending them to their room / grounding them / etc.
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Old 05-09-2006, 11:44 AM
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Surely the image is to taking a stick to a slow mule, to make him go faster, or perhaps a naughty child, to punish bad behavior. It certainly means to go harder on someone, not to cut them some slack.

I heard it fairly often when I lived in NZ.
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Old 05-09-2006, 04:12 PM
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Francis Urquhart, the conniving British politician in the wonderful House of Cards series, often talked about "putting the stick about," which, in context, seemed to imply forcing people to be responsive to his demands. Are they related phrases?
#7
Old 05-09-2006, 08:56 PM
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Maybe it's a confusion between stick and shtick?
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Old 05-09-2006, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ouryL
Maybe it's a confusion between stick and shtick?
How so? Do you think prr is being asked to do a comedy routine for the person in question?
#9
Old 05-09-2006, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Surely the image is to taking a stick to a slow mule, to make him go faster, or perhaps a naughty child, to punish bad behavior. It certainly means to go harder on someone, not to cut them some slack.

I heard it fairly often when I lived in NZ.
I'm with you on this. I think the etymology is pretty obvious and can be taken at face value. Somebody wants to impress their disagreement upon you? They use a stick. Simple.
#10
Old 05-09-2006, 09:17 PM
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However, the cutting slack part I'm not so much in agreement with. I do believe it's the case. I think 'being given some stick' is usually an unpleasant experience, but one which escapes full punishment. At least that's how I've usually heard it. Being sent to jail isn't 'being given some stick.'
#11
Old 05-09-2006, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLoadedDog
However, the cutting slack part I'm not so much in agreement with. I do believe it's the case. I think 'being given some stick' is usually an unpleasant experience, but one which escapes full punishment. At least that's how I've usually heard it. Being sent to jail isn't 'being given some stick.'
Maybe. But in the context of the OP, it seems to definitely mean to give someone a hard(er) time than they're currently getting. If a cop were giving someone a ticket, you wouldn't say "give him some stick" to get him to be more lenient.
#12
Old 05-09-2006, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudotriton ruber ruber
I think it's a British-ism, but I'm not sure if it means to give him grief, or to cut hm some slack. .................
The former. Give him stick = give him a telling off, give him some hassle, etc
#13
Old 05-10-2006, 05:20 AM
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Actually, I would have said "giving him stick" would imply unwarranted or unearned complaints. So if I were to make some mistake, and was reprimanded for it, that wouldn't count. But if someone were to keep causing me grief after i'd paid the price for my mistake, that would be giving me stick - uneeded criticism.
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:30 AM
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Hubby has occasionally used "give it some stick" to mean "wade into it/ go harder", so that lines up more with the "giving someone a hard time" interpretation IMHO.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:41 AM
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I tend to use it in a teasing or ribbing context - if you're playing football and someone misses a sitter, you'd give him stick about it for weeks to come. More good-natured than aggressive IME

Grim
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