OT: pin your ears back

Submitted by notetoself on September 24th, 2009 at 11:17 PM

I've noticed that football announcers have taken to saying that when defenses need to focus and get to work that they need to "pin their ears back". I did a bit of googling to find the origin of the phrase, thinking that maybe it was rooted in something offensive (e.g. ethnic slur) and instead of finding that, I've found that it's quite possible that they are using the phrase completely incorrectly. The most common definition I found was that it meant severely beating someone (i.e. He talked about mgopoints so they pinned his ears back).

I've never heard the phrase outside of football announcing (sort of like "nothing doing") so: what say you? Is it at all sensical to say that a defense needs to "pin its ears back"?



September 24th, 2009 at 11:27 PM ^

yeah, that was my first guess (that also led me to wonder about offensive roots a la pork barrel spending). but i really expected that if that were the meaning, that it would show up much earlier in the google search...


EDIT: basically, i've come to the conclusion that they are unintentionally saying that the defense should kick their own asses.


September 24th, 2009 at 11:44 PM ^

I think that is the meaning as well - my dog pulls here ears back before she starts wrestling with another dog. I will say that Google sometimes fails to provide anything even remotely relevant, especially if answers.com is a top response. That is perhaps the worst misnomer I've seen recently - I can honestly say that I have seen maybe 1 relevant answer to my question on answers.com. And yes, I'm beginning to sound like Seinfeld.


September 25th, 2009 at 8:13 AM ^

While the story is funny, I can't tell if you really think "plethora" is a muscle or not.

It means "a lot" or "a large amount". This post caught my eye because being mostly deaf, I mispronounce words sometimes. Last night, my wife informed me I've been mispronouncing plethora my whole life.

I was saying "Pleh-thoor-ah". She says it's "Pleth-oh-ra".


September 26th, 2009 at 5:40 AM ^

refer to "a lot" or "a large amount" but as in many, like a myriad.

For example, it wouldn't make much sense to say "he has a plethora of muscle for a walk-on".

However, if you said "there are a plethora of muscles a walk-on employs in order to avoid being crushed by Big Will during practice" then you would be on the money.

I have a plethora of other examples to give, but all this typing is cramping my Bill Gates muscles.


September 25th, 2009 at 10:31 AM ^

El Guapo: Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?
Jefe: A what?
El Guapo: A *plethora*.
Jefe: Oh yes, you have a plethora.
El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora?
Jefe: Why, El Guapo?
El Guapo: Well, you told me I have a plethora. And I just would like to know if you know what a plethora is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have a plethora.


September 25th, 2009 at 12:04 AM ^

It's definitely the dog thing. Other animals do it as well... I think some horses and donkeys will pin their ears back if they get agitated/aggressive. Not quite sure how it would be an ethnic slur.


September 25th, 2009 at 7:32 AM ^

I could be wrong but I believe this is what they are intending to say. If you notice they say it about defenses. The defensive lines more specifically on known pass plays. It is in reference to when an animal runs extremely fast from point A (being the line of scrimage in this instant) to point B (the quarterback) and their ears are layed back in order to creat less resistance and more speed. When an announcer says "it's time for them to pin their ears back and get after him " it means that it is an obvious pass play and the d line is solely focused on getting to the qb as fast as possible. Normally this is said when the team on defense has a large lead that can only be overcome by passing a lot or it is a 3rd or 4th down with a lot of distance left to go for the first.


September 25th, 2009 at 10:15 AM ^

Defeat, overcome, punish, as in The Red Sox had their ears pinned back by the Yankees, or You'll get your ears pinned back if you're late. [c. 1940]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Horses 'pin their ears back' when they are frightened.
I think the proper use is not to describe the defense, but rather to describe the offense - what the defense wants to do to the offense.


September 25th, 2009 at 10:26 AM ^

But in football it is never used to describe the offense that I have heard. It is always about the defense "pinning their ears back and getting after the quarterback".