peel out
Posted: 10 January 2008 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Why do we say “peel out” as in a car? I’ve heard it all my life and now that the question was put to me I can’t explain it very authoritatively.

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Posted: 10 January 2008 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Since childhood I have understood it to refer to scraping a layer of rubber off the tires (hitting the accelerator so hard that the driving wheels spin and rub against the pavement).  I can’t cite an authoritative source for his, but since the same thing is also referred to as “burning rubber”, “laying down rubber”, and “peeling rubber”, it seems pretty clear to me.

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Posted: 10 January 2008 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ll go along with that, and the disbelieving party does as well. Somehow I’d forgotten about the parallel phrases. Oddly, Babylon lists “peeling off” under definitions for “peel” as the action of an airplane leaving formation, which it must be, but doesn’t seems such a prevalent occurrence these days to rise to the level of one of the primary def’s. This led to the misconception that peeling of tires meant leaving the ground.

Perhaps also interestingly, this is a good example of the difficulty of explaining verbal phrases, as discussed recently in another thread

[ Edited: 10 January 2008 10:54 AM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 10 January 2008 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The OED, oddly, treats this under definition 7 of peel:

7. intr. N. Amer. slang. To move or drive quickly; to hurry, race. Also (occas.) trans. with it.
1860 J. R. BARTLETT Dict. Americanisms (ed. 3) s.v., To run at full speed. ‘Come, boys; peel it now, or you’ll be late.’ 1953 H. G. FELSEN Street Rod 103 You got off easy… The way you peeled up that street. 1963 in B. L. Chipman Hardening Rock 50 Just tuned my car now, she really peels. 1992 R. ANAYA Albuquerque xx. 239 He smiled and peeled out of the pueblo, leaving a thick trail of dust in his wake.

It seems to me it should be in the “Phrases” section at the end.

(The entry was revised just last month.)

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Posted: 10 January 2008 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I did an electronic search for “peel out” in the “peel, v.1” entry, but when that turned up negative I didn’t look further and so missed that part.

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Posted: 10 January 2008 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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thanks for the enlightenment. The only peeling any car of mine’s ever done, has been ancient paint flaking off when i start up. I take my hat off to you hot shots. ---- is “cold shot” the converse of “hot shot”, by the way?

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Posted: 10 January 2008 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I thought a cold shot was what you get when you keep the vodka in the freezer.

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