23 May 2016

Shoot the Moon


"Shoot the moon" is an English idiom. A hundred years ago, it was similar to the phrases "bolt the moon" or "a moonlight flit" or even the older "shove the moon" which are now obsolete. It meant to remove one’s household goods by "the light of the moon" in order to avoid paying the rent or to avoid one’s creditors. This British expression also applied to other stealthy departures or a related action to sneak, abscond, take flight without meeting one’s responsibilities.

Today, when someone says that someone will "shoot the moon" is to go for everything or nothing. It is similar to the phrases "to go for broke,""to go whole hog," and "to pull out all stops." In all cases, one would take a great risk.

The idiom suggests that there is as much of a chance of success as there is shooting (a bullet, arrow etc.) and hitting the Moon.

 the moon with a arrow or rifle bullet – set one’s sights high and trying for something that one wants badly, but for which realistically the probability of success is not good.

"Shoot the moon"comes from the card game ‘hearts.’ Hearts is a point-based game and most of the time the goal is to acquire the least number of hearts possible. But if you choose to risk shooting the moon and wins all the hearts and the queen of spades in the course of play, you can deliver a crushing blow to their opponents. However, if this move fails, you put yourself in an almost irrecoverable position.

I'm not a card player and I came upon the term through a 1982 movie Shoot the Moon starring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton.It's a good but depressing film about a marriage falling apart. The director, Alan Parker, is British and the film's writer, Bo Goldman, is American, so I'm not sure if the old British or modern definition applies to the film. The husband would like to skip out on his marriage. Is it about a time in the marriage when it's "all or nothing?"  Unclear to me.

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