Balls out - to the walls

Funky Phrases

In defending himself before the Senate Hearing Committee on the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA Director Michael Brown used a strange phrase: “I told the staff… the day before the hurricane struck, that I expected them to cut every piece of red tape, do everything they could; that it was balls to the wall…”

The slang phrase Brown used derives its meaning neither from sports nor male anatomy but from aviation. The first written usage dates to Frank Harvey’s “Air War – Vietnam” which contains the sentence, “You know what happened on that first Doomsday Mission (as the boy...


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