Lead-pipe cinch

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The idiom lead-pipe cinch is an American term that first appeared in print in the 1880s, though one may assume it was used in everyday speech before that time. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the term lead-pipe cinch, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A lead-pipe cinch is a sure thing, a certainty. Lead-pipe cinch may also refer to something that is easy to accomplish. The origins of the term lead-pipe cinch are in great dispute, with many apocryphal stories attached to the term. We do know that a cinch is the band or strap on a saddle that goes across the belly of the horse and is tightened to keep the saddle in place. A tight cinch means a safe and secure saddle. There has been much speculation as to the meaning of the word lead-pipe in this phrase. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best one, and the word lead-pipe may have been chosen for this term simply because it may be thought of in a figurative sense as solid and reliable. Note that lead-pipe is properly rendered with a hyphen in the phrase lead-pipe cinch.


And even if you’re not, it’s a lead-pipe cinch you’ve heard his compositions if you’ve been within earshot of a public radio station any time in the last four decades. (The News & Observer)

In other words, with five victories already under its belt, Kentucky is all but a lead-pipe cinch to record its sixth Saturday and become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. (The Lexington Herald-Leader)