# Shaking a StickJanuary 20, 2004 2:39 PM   Subscribe

How much stuff can the average person shake a stick at?

I've done some googling to find the origins of the phrase: "More than you can shake a stick at....", and the typical result is this one, which throws out some guesses and early usages, but cannot come up with the real answer. Does anybody know where the phrase really comes from?

And exactly how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would?

...and what is the average velocity of a coconut-laden swallow?
posted by keswick at 2:55 PM on January 20, 2004

er, wood.
posted by keswick at 2:56 PM on January 20, 2004

How do you know they didn't come up with the real answer? It's pretty clear what the phrase means, so the variety of responses given in the link you provided is probably as close as you're going to get to a complete answer. The history of language is often an inexact science, relying on these sorts of guesstimation techniques. If the OED doesn't have a definitive answer, chances are nobody will.
posted by The God Complex at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2004

...and what is the average velocity of a coconut-laden swallow?
Now, this one I know.
posted by dg at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2004

Oops
posted by dg at 3:13 PM on January 20, 2004

Step 1: Take a stick
Step 2: Hold it out in front of you and turn 360 degrees, while shaking said stick.

Congratulations, you've now shaken a stick at everything. (implementation for a round earth left as an exercise for the reader.)
posted by Space Coyote at 3:48 PM on January 20, 2004

It has to be a lot of stuff, at least a shitload, to be more than you can shake a stick at. Imagine yourself shaking a stick at something (a person, a dog, a nonresponsive computer, etc.). It would seem like stick shaking would be limited to that which can be in front of you in order to be the object of a shaken stick. A large crowd would not be affected by a shaken stick, because they could gang up on you and lash you with your own stick quite easily. The crowd would be more than you could shake a stick at. Also, certain individuals would be more than you could shake a stick at, such as the president.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:56 PM on January 20, 2004

What The God Complex said. There are things it's worth asking MeFi about, but something that can't be settled by the staffs of the OED, Websters, &c is not one of them. What kind of definitive answer could there be, anyway? The general idea is obvious; the details, as so often with these colloquial phrases, are left to the individual user's imagination.
posted by languagehat at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2004

Congratulations, you've now shaken a stick at everything.
Everything but the kitchen sink.

And is the shaking stick related to the ten-foot pole that you wouldn't touch some things with (almost never utilized at MeFi)?
And how many ten-foot poles does it take to go the whole nine yards? (It would obviously be 2.7, but I don't want to make an assumption)
Old cliches are more fun than new ones.
Metrosexual embedded reporter in the hizzouse.
posted by wendell at 6:05 PM on January 20, 2004

*zhuzhes wendell*

*hikes up pants to neck, bends over double, grabs cane, starts muttering*
everything--you can shake a stick at everything : >
posted by amberglow at 7:46 PM on January 20, 2004

how much is a shitload? is it more than a pantload, a boatload and a fuckin' bunch? how many shitloads can you pile on one of dolly parton's boobies?
posted by quonsar at 9:05 PM on January 20, 2004

posted by trondant at 9:08 PM on January 20, 2004

A woodchuck would chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck can't chuck wood.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:25 AM on January 21, 2004

47.

Oh, Sorry. I thought the question was how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
posted by pomegranate at 8:17 AM on January 21, 2004

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