Make a rod for your own back.

What does "Make a rod for your own back." mean?

Today it means: A self imposed problem that might only get worse.

There are two possible origins for this term. The nautical meaning could come from sailors about to be flogged would have to make their own cat of nine tails and if not made well enough would be subject to extra lashes. Maybe not a good reference as "the cat" was usually kept in a bag on the main mast and could not be described as a rod in any case.

Another possibility is that the Victorians would put rods of whale bone down their back, usually in a corset, to stop them slouching.

See also: The cat  and: On the lash 

By SailingQuiz November 2019   Category: Nautical Saying              



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