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It is used largely as a metaphor. Examples include:
- Referring facetiously to a whipping mechanism that is impractical and has no injurious or painful effects, to someone who is not any fun, also refers to someone who is lethargic and lazy. to refer to something totally yielding and with no stiffness, or used metaphorically to demonstrate the difficulty of pushing something that can only be moved by pulling.
- An example of unproductive action, because pushing an actual wet noodle, as opposed to pulling it, accomplishes nothing. George S. Patton is said to have used a wet noodle on a plate to demonstrate an aphorism on the need for leadership, saying "Gentlemen, you don't push the noodle, you pull it."
- In snowshoeing, a wet noodle-type binding is an "old standby" that is appropriate for gentle terrain. Also known as an H binding, it may have been nicknamed because it gets wet and slippery.
- In model airplane design, the wet noodle theory refers to materials that are stronger in tension than in compression, thus they can be pulled on with more force than other materials, despite their higher risk of collapsing.
- Richard A. Spears NTC's dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions National textbook language dictionaries NTC language dictionaries Edition 2, illustrated National Textbook Co., 1994 Original from Pennsylvania State University ISBN 978-0-8442-0827-5, 555 pages,
- Andrew Ashworth, Martin Wasik Fundamentals of sentencing theory: essays in honour of Andrew von Hirsch Oxford monographs on criminal law and criminal justice Oxford University Press US, 1998 ISBN 978-0-19-826256-5, 300 pages page 138
- Eugene F. Casey, Need for national policy for the use of underground space: proceedings Engineering Foundation (U.S.) American Society of Civil Engineers, 1973 Original from the University of Wisconsin - Madison Digitized Feb 15, 2008 232 pages
- "Trying to make another choose as we wish them to choose is like trying to push a wet noodle. It can't be done." Bob Crowe Not Determined to Be Happy Xulon Press, 2007 ISBN 978-1-60266-550-7, 268 pages page 64, 119, 152
- Carlo D'Este Patton: A Genius for War HarperCollins, 1996 ISBN 978-0-06-092762-2, 1024 pages, page 395
- Gene Prater, Dave Felkley Snowshoeing; Mountaineers outdoor expert series Outdoor Expert The Mountaineers Books, 2002 ISBN 978-0-89886-891-3, pp. 53, 55
- Active Interest Media, Inc (Winter 1973). Backpacker. p. 96.
- Carlos Reyes Rcadvisor's Model Airplane Design Made Easy RCadvisor.com, 2009 ISBN 978-0-9822613-2-3, p. 73