General Question

occ's avatar

Where does the expression "to gird your loins" come from, and what exactly does it mean?

Asked by occ (4005 points ) December 17th, 2006
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

12 Answers

darwinsbulldog's avatar
To gird is often used to mean prepare, make ready, or draw up strength, but literally it means to bind, tie, or surround. To gird your loins can mean to get ready for a rumble or to put on your underwear. If it's the former then I think the idea is that covering one's balls lends some confidence in a fight.
andrew's avatar
gird = base word for girdle?
hossman's avatar
The expression is Biblical in derivation, a traveler would raise his tunic up and fasten it up with his belt to free his movement and keep it from dragging in the dust.
frydeyes's avatar
i agree with biblical times. thought it was to fasten up robe to run or fight, thus girding(encircling one's loins)
samkusnetz's avatar
actually, it goes back a bit farther than the bible... in the epic of gilgamesh, the oldest known text, the title character refers to his recently deceased best friend and fellow adventurer as "you, my festal garment, a sash over my loins--"
Knotmyday's avatar

“Gird up your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer thou me” Job 38:3, 40:7

The book of Job predates most of the books of the Bible, according to the scholarly.

ABUELA's avatar

To gird your loins during the Roman Era meant to draw-up and tie your lower garment between your legs as to increase your mobility and agility

kullervo's avatar

A Bible expression when someone was preparing to do some physical labour. They would gird up their loin cloth so they would be more free to move as @hossman said.

The term is now more commonly used as “roll up your sleeves” to indicate you are preparing your self for some work or get stuck in.

morphail's avatar

Since it’s an English phrase, it can’t be as old as Biblical times, Gilgamesh, or the Romans.

“to gird one’s loins” dates from 1535. The earliest citation in the OED:

1535 COVERDALE 2 Kings iv. 29 Girde vp thy loynes, and take my staffe in thy hande, and go thy waye. Luke xii.

“gird” means “To surround, encircle (the waist, a person about the waist) with a belt or girdle”

Zen_Again's avatar

I’m going to agree with all of you, but mostly @kullervo hit the mark: if you are going to do today’s “equivalent” to jousting, say, boxing or hockey – you’d better not forget your “cup” – to protect your loins, before you get down to business.

From that, though it isn’t heard often in business or academics (correct me if I’m mistaken) – I think it’d mean “Let’s get down to brass tacks,” to use another perhaps slightly less archaic expression?

fundevogel's avatar

@Zen_Again – Are you sure the contemporary variant isn’t, ”I put on my robe and wizard hat”?

Cdelude's avatar

Aloha, We have in Hawaii and ancient proverb “E Hume I ka malo, e ho’okala I ka ihe,” or “Gird the loincloth, sharpen the spear.”

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