1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Touch and Go - what does that even mean?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Corvuscorax, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    BJ says negotiations with the EU are touch and go. What exactly is that supposed to mean? As far as I am aware its a chess term meaning don't touch a piece unless you are committed to moving it. How is that a basis for negotiating the future of our country? This whole debacle feels more like Boris through the Looking Glass every day.
  2. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter


    One of the meanings of the phrase: - A precarious situation, one in which a small deviation could cause calamity - "He almost didn't make it through his heart operation, it was touch and go for a while."

    This meaning came about as an allusion to ships or stage-coaches giving a glancing blow, to the seabed or to the wheels of other coaches respectively, before continuing their journey. To collide might mean disaster but a mere touch meant a narrow escape and the ship/coach could continue to 'go'. This was explained by Admiral W. H. Smyth in his Sailor's Word-book, 1867:

    Touch-and-go, said of anything within an ace of ruin; as in rounding a ship very narrowly to escape rocks, &c., or when, under sail, she rubs against the ground with her keel, without much diminution of her velocity.
    nomad, phlogiston, ilovesooty and 4 others like this.
  3. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    As far as Boris and Brexit is concerned, it means "was hardly ever likely, now even less so, and I'm hoping someone else or circumstances will get the blame".
    blue451 likes this.
  4. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    It appears to be a synonym of "a million to one"
    knitone and phlogiston like this.
  5. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    From Wikipedia:

    Touch and Go is a British jazz pop musical ensemble. Their most notable singles include "Would You...?", "Straight To...Number One", "So Hot", and "Tango in Harlem".

    The "Would You...?" song is a splendid one, in my opinion:

  6. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    The only term I've ever heard of for this rule in chess is "touch move":

  7. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    "Touch and go" may be one step back from "on a wing and a prayer" or "hanging by a thread".
    phlogiston likes this.
  8. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    It means he has no idea and no plan how to avoid anything else.
  9. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    He was talking about the cricket!
  10. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    The children's game of 'tag' gets it's name from an acronym of the words "touch and go".
  11. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    No it doesn't!
    EmanuelShadrack likes this.
  12. nomad

    nomad Star commenter


    Just checked Snopes and it seems it doesn't.

    Thank you.
    EmanuelShadrack likes this.
  13. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    I was suckered in too. I am ashamed.
    nomad likes this.
  14. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Me too!

    EmanuelShadrack likes this.
  15. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    It's called "tig" round here so it couldn't be an acronym.
    Yours smartarsedly.
    nomad and anotherauntsally like this.
  16. anotherauntsally

    anotherauntsally Lead commenter

    And round here.
    nomad likes this.
  17. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    I nearly got run over by an RAF jet practising 'touch and go' . (I was in a helicopter at the time.)
    nomad likes this.
  18. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    That is probably an acronym of 'touch including go'.

    It's called 'tog' when played under a duvet.

    [Nomad rapidly moves up the smartarse rankings]
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  19. BertieBassett2

    BertieBassett2 Star commenter

    I so wanted to believe that! Is it the same game as 'Off Ground Touch'?
    nomad likes this.
  20. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    The first time 'touch and go' is known to have appeared in print is in Seven Sermons Before Edward VI, published in 1869, which is a record of sermons preached to the young king by the English cleric Hugh Latimer in 1549:

    As the text doth ryfe, I wyl touch and go a lyttle in every place, vntyl I come into much. I wyl touch al the forfyed things, but not to muche.

    [As points arise I will refer to each of them briefly and elaborate later. I will refer to all the previous items but only in passing.]

    [​IMG]The meaning there is clear, Latimer declaring his intention to touch on the things he intended to say and then to enlarge on them later. That's not unlike the present day mantra given to speechmakers - 'you tell them what you are going to tell them, then you tell them, then you tell them again'. Assuming that the 1869 publication was a faithful record of what Latimer said then the 'briefly touching on something' meaning is where 'touch and go' started.

    The Seven Sermons is quite a thick book and not exactly a laugh a minute. Edward VI was only eleven at the time so he must have had some considerable patience to sit through Latimer's exhaustively long and repetitious preachings. His successor Mary I was less accommodating to Latimer and had him burned at the stake in 1555.
    So maybe Boris is trying to bore them into an agreement on the Irish backstop.

Share This Page