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What does "short end of the stick" really mean?

Asked by timothykinney (2738points) July 12th, 2009

It seems like a stick is just a stick, there’s no short end or long end. Does it just mean you got less than half of the stick?

Does anyone know where this phrase originates?

I do understand how to use this phrase in language, just wondering what it would mean literally.

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