Phrase of the day: go pear-shaped

Last night I was at our local pub quiz. For anyone who hasn’t experienced this, basically it’s an excuse for people to get together and drink, but at the same time it allows ourselves to feel that we are not drunks or layabouts because we are actually proving our great intelligence and knowledge. Never mind that the questions are largely about trivia such as naming Beyoncé‘s last number one single or how many tennis balls would fit in the Millenium Dome if it was turned upside down!

We might also ignore the fact that the winner often only wins bar vouchers, which allow them to buy – and drink – more beer! No, pub quizzes are deadly serious, they are intellectual, and they are an opportunity to show off, when the British usually hate such things.

So anyway, there we were at the pub quiz, and basically we were doing very well indeed. We’d been through a couple of rounds where we were convinced we had got all the questions – or almost all of them – right and we had reached a round called food and drink. We were very confident – we all cook, we were all drinking, we all watch MasterChef. What could possibly go wrong? So we played our joker. Playing the joker meant we would get double points for every correct answer.

First question: rigatoni and farfalle are both types of what? Ha! No problem … pasta! What are the ingredients of a Harvey Wallbanger? Tricky, but as I say, we all drink and one of us makes cocktails. Confident. What did Henry II  have too much of when he died? Hmmm! Tricky. Not a clue. Next question. What dish is named after a famous victory by Napoleon. What? Next. What’s the national dish of Gibraltar? Oh, for God’s sake!

A teammate turned to me and said ‘Oh dear! It’s all gone a bit pear-shaped.

And indeed it had – we came third last in the end!

Basically, if a plan or a strategy or a game goes a bit pear-shaped, then it goes wrong – usually very wrong!. You blow your chances, you choke, you lose your way (often after a fairly successful start!)

So what else has gone pear-shaped of late? Oh yes, Arsenal’s season has gone a bit pear-shaped. There they were, riding high in the table, fifteen matches unbeaten and they’d qualified first in their Champions League group. The players gave interviews about how the hard work was paying off and how the spirit in the team was unbelievable. Two months later and they were thrashed by Bayern Munich – twice, they’d dropped to sixth in the league and were blaming each other as their hopes of a league title had been dashed …. again!

Oh dear.

Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take our ENGLISH BOOST course this summer.

  • Can you think of a time when something went pear-shaped for you?
  • What other examples of things going pear-shaped in sport and politics can you think of?
  • Are pub quizzes popular in your country? Why? / Why not?
  • Have you ever been to one? How did you do?
  • Can you think of any other examples of a sports team getting thrashed?
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply