To Chance your arm

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To Chance your arm : Phrases


To chance your arm is to risk something.



This was firstly of military origin. Badges of rank, such as stripes, were worn on the arm. If the wearer offended against Military regulations then there was a risk of being demoted with consequent loss of some or all badges - hence such offences
chanced the wearer's arm.

An alternative explanation comes from Ireland. A couple of centuries ago two families had a feud. One eventually took refuge in St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. They then wished to make peace, but were afraid for their lives if they ventured out; in consequence they cut a hole in one of the Cathedral's doors and put out an arm - the worst that could have happened was that an arm was lost. The hole is present to this day. Sadly, the feud took place in 1492 and the saying is first recorded only in the 1880s!

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