Stick one’s neck out

Stick one’s neck out is an American idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom stick one’s neck out, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Stick one’s neck out means to take a risk, to expose yourself to criticism, to put yourself in danger. The idiom stick one’s neck out is an American phrase that came into use by the 1920s. The exact origin is unknown. Some ascribe the origin to the fact that a chicken or turkey will stretch out its neck when placed upon the chopping block. Others invoke the image of a turtle stretching its neck out of its shell to take a look around, therefore endangering itself. Related phrases are sticks one’s neck out, stuck one’s neck out, sticking one’s neck out.


For Koepka to stick his neck out, knowing it would deal a significant blow to the PGL and frustrate other elite golfers, took guts, but it was his method, and his reasons, that stuck out. (Golf Digest)

Larry Davidson said his father was the type to stick his neck out to protect other soldiers and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. (The Roanoke Times)

“I stuck my neck out and asked them if they wanted to go home and they all said yes unanimously.” (The Edmonton JOurnal)

“We had an AD meeting, and I kind of stuck my neck out and committed that we were going to be there,” he said. (The Daily Gazette)

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