General Question

mirifique's avatar

What does the expression, "don't throw me in the briar patch" mean?

Asked by mirifique (1537points) February 11th, 2010

Cannot find on google.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

49 Answers

davidbetterman's avatar

That was Bre’r Rabbit’s way of tricking Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Bear into actually throwing him into the briar patch, where he then makes good his getaway…

Didn’t you listen when Uncle Remus was explaining all this?

Jeruba's avatar

“Born and raised in a briar patch, Br’er Fox! Born and raised in a briar patch!”

The stories of Uncle Remus, by Joel Chandler Harris, were very popular in the U.S. at one time.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Honestly, I didn’t know what it meant either, but the first thing that came to mind was “don’t throw me under the bus”, which has a completely different meaning.

mirifique's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna Yeah not sure about that.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

To throw one under the bus. It is a bit meaner spirited than the OP’s expression.

gemiwing's avatar

I always took it to mean ‘don’t put me in a sticky situation that’s difficult to get out of’. Have no idea if that’s correct, just how I’ve heard it used.

laureth's avatar

The briar patch is where Br’er rabbit was raised. He knows it like the back of his paw. But if he convinces his enemy that throwing him in the briar patch is a way to make him suffer, the enemy will do just that. And then Br’er Rabbit will have tricked his enemy into letting him go.

mowens's avatar

Don’t fuck me over.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’d have to agree with gemiwing.
How do I get these pickers out?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I completely agree with mowens.Yes,that is it.

BoBo1946's avatar

About the same thing as “don’t throw him/she under the bus!” Meaning to me, always give a person a fair chance! Great example, the Republican threw President Obama “under the bus,” or “in the briar patch,” before even took the oath of office!

slick44's avatar

Never heard that term but i think mowens nailed it.

filmfann's avatar

@davidbetterman @Jeruba and @laureth all have it right.
They did not mention this is shown in Song of the South. (the exact reference is in part 2 )

BoBo1946's avatar

@slick44 heard that term all my life…don’t agree with mowens’ interpertation of the phrase! If someone throws you in a briar patch, that is an act to cause physical and emotion pain. Still think, to me, means the same as the phrase, “don’t throw him/her under the bus!” Again, like the Republicans did before President Obama took office, figurative speaking of course!

davidbetterman's avatar

@filmfann However, we did mention Uncle Remus, which would take you direct to it.

Strauss's avatar

It is definitely Br’er Rabbit goading Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox to throw him into a place they think is awful, but which helps Br’er Rabbit get out of the sticky situation, after dealing with the Tar Baby.

Jeruba's avatar

@filmfann, that is so, but Walt Disney’s Song of the South was based on the stories of Joel Chandler Harris, who collected them in the Deep South. The books came first.

Br’er (“brother”) Rabbit is a trickster character like those found in many cultures. He begs not to be thrown in the briar patch precisely because he wants it—that’s how he escapes.

My mother, who grow up in the Southeast, told me those stories when I was a little girl, long before they fell out of favor on account of their racial content (even though the old black slave Uncle Remus was the figure of wisdom). They were in a similar vein to the fables of Aesop (who was also a slave, using harmless animal stories to disguise his messages—a sort of literary Capoeira): didactic tales—stories that taught a lesson. The lesson of the Tar Baby is one that I have used all my life and never forgotten.

BoBo1946's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna did not read your comment about throwing them “under the bus” until now…it is a meaner spirited comment, but very close to “throwing them in BP!”

Jeruba's avatar

No. Throwing in the briar patch is unwittingly rescuing the person. Saying “don’t throw me in that there briar patch” is a psychological trick to get someone to do the opposite of what they think they’re doing. They think they’re punishing you, but they are actually saving you.

The expression came from this story, and not the other way around, so the story is the authority on what it means.

Maybe you can come up with scenes from movies where a character in a tight spot tricks the bad guy into setting him free by pretending that it would be the worst thing that could happen. Those are “briar patch” scenes.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@BoBo1946 & @Jeruba:I quote myself, “the first thing that came to mind was “don’t throw me under the bus”, which has a completely different meaning


I go fishing. I catch a magical talking fish.

Me: I despise fish. I’m going to fry you up and eat you!!!
Fish: Phewww! I was worried there for a second!
Me: Huh? What are you talking about? I’m going to eat you!
Fish: I know, but I’d rather that then drown. I’ve an awful fear of water!
Me: Really? Well take this then! [throws fish back in water]

The above is an example of “don’t throw me in the briar patch”.

Example two:

John and Ed go to class.

Teacher: We are going to give out massive amounts of chocolate to everyone here, but first we need a volunteer to give his organs to science to help pay for it.
John: Ed will do it! He’s always saying how science is his favorite subject!
Teacher: Excellent! Ed, see me after class.
Ed: Dude! You totally threw me under the bus there!
John: [grinning] I know.

The above is a slightly ludicrous example of “threw you under the bus”.

Does that make better sense?


BoBo1946's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna yes it does…it is a phrase that is not used very much. I’ve used it over the years, but not something you hear everyday.

I’m sure that it could be googled and find the origin and meaning of the phrase…..just one day, some guy, somewhere, said, “please don’t throw me in the briar patch because I said that!”

Gosh, we must be real bored Dan to be discussing this…Loll.

mirifique's avatar

I read the story, and now fully concur with @Jeruba.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@BoBo1946: lol, yeah, I suppose we are bored. :-D Still good to bump into you here though.

@mirifique: ditto

BoBo1946's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna loll…well, in the scheme of things, where this phrase came from is not big deal, but as always, enjoy conversing with people about lots of different things. Did not mean to be insensitive about the question mirifique. Thought it was a thought provoking question.

Thank you for the good question!

slick44's avatar

@BoBo1946 As usual, you are a true gentelman.

BoBo1946's avatar

@slick44 and thank you my friend!

slick44's avatar

@BoBo1946 Your welcome, Friend. I am proud to be called your friend. You are a rare breed indeed. :)

BoBo1946's avatar

@slick44 back at you! Friendship is a rare thing now days!

davidbetterman's avatar

@Jeruba You are obviously correct, and most of the rest of this page seems to be nonsense from people who are talking of things about which they simply (obviously) know nothing.
It is refreshing to run across a woman who is obviously quite intelligent, and beautiful as well.

I am surprised that someone who calls himself filmfann could be so wrong about a film.

filmfann's avatar

@davidbetterman Huh? I said that Jeruba and others were correct, and posted a supporting link to a film that showed they were right! How was I wrong, and what was I wrong about?

davidbetterman's avatar

@filmfann I was in error…My most sincere and heartfelt apologies…I must have been reading a facebook app…Dang these effing iphones!

plethora's avatar

I, for one, am astounded that so many respondents to this question, on a site made up of pretty intelligent people, have no idea of the source and meaning of “don’t throw me in the briar patch”. Uncle Remus is required reading BEFORE you start school.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

How old are you @plethora? It certainly wasn’t required reading for me.

davidbetterman's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna Typical of the youts to be ignorant and unread…

BoBo1946's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna as Shaq would say on his commercials, “got your back” my friend. Flagged the comment and you handled it like a real man!

@davidbetterman very immature comment on your part!

BoBo1946's avatar

@plethora all kinds of questions are asked here. Everyone has the right to answer or not answer the question.

augustlan's avatar

@plethora Nobody reads those stories anymore. While I loved them as a child, they are pretty much verboten these days. Rightly so, most likely.

gemiwing's avatar

I think perhaps this is a case of taking a meaning and changing it over time.

My response is from how I hear it used- not it’s origin.

Things tend to get tricky linguistically with what I call ‘sneaky phrases’. Anything that means the opposite, or takes an insider’s knowledge to interpret, tends to change meaning somewhat once the general populous get a hold of it.

side note: Has anyone else noticed an influx of snark/hurtful/petty comments lately or is it just me?

gemiwing's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna yeah, like that but with brown wood paneling instead of gray.

BoBo1946's avatar

oh well…..

MrSimmonsSr's avatar

Asking to not be thrown into the briar patch is to convince your enemy that you really don’t want them to do something when it is actually exactly what you want them to do. It does not at all mean “don’t throw me under the bus”..

Just read the Uncle Remus stories to get the proper context. If you think it means “don’t throw me under the bus”, then you are simply incorrect, unless under the bus is exactly where you really wish to get thrown.

gterry's avatar

Its reverse sociology.

TommyLeeBright's avatar

It means jail or prison in modern black culture.

mc7750's avatar

I believe this probably is due to the misinterpretation of a song by Devin the Dude “Briarpatch” which is clearly a reference to br’er rabbit.

Twoface89's avatar

If you say please don’t throw me in the briar patch it means you are very comfortable in a situation someone else thinks will be difficult for you.

For example my boss said I was to be in charge of organising the entire warehouse for my company. He thought it would be a very didficult challenge that no one would want to do. However I love organising things and was looking forward to it. Though I pretended I didn’t want to do it.

Another way to look at it would be reverse psychology. if someone wants to punish you, you ask them not to give you a punishment you secretly want. This way they think they are are giving you a punishment you hate when in fact you are happy to do it.

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