Crying Uncle

Neither one is likely to cry uncle any time soon, pic: thegonzothinktank.wordpress.com

This is a very strange expression to my ears and for that reason I never use it.  But since other people use it and one reads it I might as well explain it.

To cry or say uncle means to concede defeat and to beg to beg someone to stop; it means to surrender. The word uncle is the verbal concession the defeated party is required to say before the winner let’s go.

Here are a couple of examples:

Two kids fighting, the stronger one who is beating the weaker on, says: “cry uncle and I’ll let you go.”

Here is a headline using the expression: “How to cry uncle in a backyard Boxing match.”

the phrase is fairly young as such things go.  I originated in about 1900 and was used among school-children who would say, “Cry uncle when you’ve had enough (of a beating).” By the mid-1900s it was being used figuratively.  For why the word uncle is used I did not find a satisfactory, non-convoluted explanation and therefore we’ll just have to take it as it is.

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