This is part 2 of our explanations of the commonly used Business English phrases that originated in sports. Remember to check out Part One
Jump the gun
This means to start prematurely, before the appropriate conditions exist. It is therefore a sign of either over-eagerness or inexperience.
“It’s a good idea in principal, but let’s not jump the gun here – I really don’t think people are ready for this yet.”
This originates from running sports where they are started with a “starting pistol”. i.e. the race is literally started by the firing of a gun. If you start running before this signal, you have “jumped the gun” and will be disqualified.
On the home stretch
This means that you’re almost finished, usually after a lot of effort to get you there. It is often a positive expression because it means the goal/outcome is within reach.
“It’s taken me a while but I am on the home stretch. I’ll be finished soon and all the effort will have been worth it.”
The phrase comes from Horse Racing where the final part of the track is called the Home Stretch where, after a long race, the horses are soon to finish and get their rest.
Throw in the towel
This means “to give up”. It might be used encouragingly – “let’s not throw in the towel just yet” or it might be used dejectedly “Sorry, but it’s too much. We’ll have to throw in the towel on this one”.
It comes directly from the sport of Boxing where, if a fighter is getting badly beaten, his trainer can literally throw a towel into the ring – which signals that he thinks the fight is unwinnable and the best option is to quit.
Now when you hear a client tell you she’s ready to get the ball rolling and work with your company, you can be sure you’ll understand her meaning so that you don’t drop the ball!
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