Backseat driving Samuel Johnson: LIFT

Today’s Dose of Samuel Johnson

LIFT (LIFT) n.s.[from the verb. ]The act of lifting; the manner of lifting.

In the lift of the feet, when a man goeth up the hill, the weight of the body beareth most upon the knees. Bacon.

Ouch. Boring example.

In races, it is not the large stride, or high lift, that makes the speed. Bacon’sEssays.

Incorrect. See: Usain Bolt.

The goat gives the fox a lift, and out he springs. L’Estr.

Vivid! Best sentence of the three.

2.[In Scottish.]The sky: for in a starry night they say, How clear the lift is?

Excellent. I need to work this one in!

3. Effect; struggle. Dead lift is an effort to raise what with the whole force cannot be moved; and figuratively any state of impotence and inability.


Myself and Trulla made a shift To help him out at a dead lift. Hudibras,p. i.

Who the heck is Hudibras.

Mr. Doctor had puzzled his brains In making a ballad, but was at a stand.For you freely must own, you were at a dead lift. S wift.

“You were at a dead lift” is a nice alternative to “you were at an impasse” or “you were at a standstill”.

4. Lift, in Scotland, denotes a load or surcharge of any thing; as also, if one be disguised much with liquor, they say, He has got a great lift.


5. Lifts of a sail are ropes to raise or lower them at pleasure.

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