Pear-shaped

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A European pear also known as common pear.

Pear-shaped is a metaphorical term with several meanings, all in reference to the shape of a (European) pear, i.e. tapering towards the top.

Body shape[edit]

The comparison is more or less literal when the term is applied to people, where it means narrow at the shoulders and wide at the hips, a use that goes back to at least 1815, and one that can have either positive connotations (as in Venus figurines) or negative, depending upon the context.

Voice[edit]

In the 20th century, another, more abstract use of the term evolved. When said of someone's voice, "pear-shaped" means rich and sonorous. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) dates this use to 1925.

Failure[edit]

The third meaning is mostly limited[citation needed] to the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa and Australasia. It describes a situation that went awry, perhaps horribly wrong. A failed bank robbery, for example, could be said to have "gone pear-shaped". The origin for this use of the term is in dispute. The OED cites its origin as within the Royal Air Force; as of 2003 the earliest citation there is a quote in the 1983 book Air War South Atlantic.[1]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jeffrey L. Ethell, Alfred Price (1983). Air War South Atlantic. Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-283-99035-X. 

External links[edit]