To put a spoke in someone's wheel





What is the meaning and origin of the idiom "to put a spoke in someone's wheel"?

By N. Citra, Nanganallur, India (13th Dec.2006).

When you put a spoke in someone's wheel what you are doing is trying to make things difficult for him. You are attempting to interfere with or obstruct the progress of something.

Here are a few examples.

* When the students came to know what the Registrar was trying to do, they tried to put a spoke in his wheel.

* By telling the press everything, Karthick put a spoke in Amanda’s wheel.

* Lawman put a spoke in his son's wheel when he refused to increase his allowance.

This expression has been part of the English language for well over 400 years. You may wonder how putting a spoke in a wheel will impede anyone's progress. After all, a bicycle wheel is full of spokes, putting another one in is unlikely to slow things down. What you must remember is that the wheel referred to here is the ancient wheel — the solid wooden wheel, one which didn't have any spokes. These wheels, however contained a hole, and whenever someone wanted to stop the wheel from moving, he inserted a spoke into the hole. The spoke or pin acted as a brake and thus impeded movement.

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