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I'll call the shots

A discussion of slang and the changes it undergoes.

I'll call the shots

Postby eberntson » Mon May 19, 2008 3:44 pm

Does anyone know where the phase "I'll call the shots" come from? It sounds military to me, something a Sargent would yell out. Just curious.

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Postby bnjtokyo » Tue May 20, 2008 4:51 am

According to the "Word Detective," call the shots originated in target shooting. He says that although one "calls one's shots" in billards, billards is not the origin of the phraselink

But, despite the reference to the OED, color me dubious.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm

Interesting, I cannot find reference to its origin either.
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Postby eberntson » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:19 pm

It must be military, billiards would just be another use for it. It could be hunting related, in Germany a Jaeger (professional hunter) takes you out and tells you what game you can shoot, this is how they manage their wild life herd. i.e. which doe or buck you are allowed to shoot.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:29 pm

Well, that makes a lot of sense. Here we just give buck
and doe licenses, and many pay no attention. Of course
deer are thicker than flies right now. We had a culling
along the river with the intent of getting 2000, but only
about 1000 were culled.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:56 am

This link is to an article published in 1944 in which "Call the shots" appears in a military context. It is what the airborne observer reports back to the artillery officer in charge.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:43 pm

Appreciate the article. Quite technical, but an
interesting use of the term. The small planes
needed to have someone in charge, or
'call the shots'. Today, of course, everything
would probably be computer-run, but back
then brain-power was the "in charge"
manner of "calling the shots".
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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:14 am

I've found another possible source for the expression:
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/ ... p?id=h-547

They suggest the phrase was used during the Reconstruction of the South following the Civil War by rafters bringing rafts of logs down from the hills to the mills on the coast. To keep the raft in midstream, the pilot would "call the shots" for each bend in the river, and the oars men would work the oars to move the raft in the required direction. The use of quotation marks around "call the shots" makes it appear to be a technical term used at the time, which would move the origin of the phrase back to at least the second half of the 19th Century.

I note that modern kayakers and river rafters refer to rapids as "chutes" and running rapids is called "shooting the rapids." I wonder if there is any connection with the similarity of "chute," "shoot" and "shot."

It would be nice if someone could find a primary source using the phrase instead of the secondary source at the link above.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:49 pm

You surely are doing some investigation of the term, and
I really appreciate reading what you are "digging" up.
This raft business is certainly far more complicated
than any of Huckleberry Finn fame.
Calling the shot: Bow white or bow injun.
I've never even heard of the New Georgia Encyc. I sent
a memo to a friend who lives outside Atlanta to see if
he ever heard of it. He loves verbage, phrases and the
like, and this should really interest him.
None of the sites I go to have any more than you have
found.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:23 am

The post by alicia ortis is SPAM -- do not click on the link.
This time, I agree, it would be better if the Good Dr would delete this post.

Sigh
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:19 pm

I totally agree, yet most spam remains when posted.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:07 pm

Unfair or not, you are a spammer, but it also shows
that the administration of this site really does not
care, they are more interested in stopping the
posts of those who care about the site, and who
enjoy the site, than they are about spammer like you.
So spam away, fair or not.
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:43 pm

alicia ortis wrote:hey, that would be unfair.. :cry:


Then "cleanse" the spam out of your signature! :evil:

I take a hard line on real spam and malware. The only way we'll ever stop spammers and those who spread malware is to have public hangings on the Mall in Washington, DC, with Death Squads targetting those beyond the reach of our court system. Since that will probably never happen, spam and malware will continue to plague us. Nevertheless, I and many others will be more than happy to supply the rope.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Stargzer » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:50 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:Unfair or not, you are a spammer, but it also shows
that the administration of this site really does not
care, they are more interested in stopping the
posts of those who care about the site, and who
enjoy the site, than they are about spammer like you.
So spam away, fair or not.


The people who run this site run the Agora as a labor of love; otherwise it would be as full of advertisements as yourDictionary.com was after they left. This is not their day job, so to speak, but they do take care of the most egregious items quickly (porn posted on the site, for instance).
Regards//Larry

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:17 pm

Spammers killed off WOTD. I'd report no less than six
a day to the administration, and they'd delete them.
They asked the posters to report spam and we did.
Still the site died, for this and other reasons I'm sure.
You supply the rope, I'll kick the chair.
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