Fun Fact March 23, 2020.
23 March 2020
In this day of social distancing we’ll look at the ten foot pole. The phrase can mean to not be willing to get close to something or someone or not being able to get any closer than a ten foot pole. For example; I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole. Or you couldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole. The meaning is negative in either case. The expression may have come from the ten foot poles that river boatmen used to pole their boats when in shallow water, or from the barge poles that bargemen used to push off wharfs and other boats. Some believe this expression originates from a burial practice in New Orleans. The Spanish developed a burial system where the casket of the patron is placed in an above ground tomb. Exactly one year and one day after burial, the tomb is opened and the casket removed. The body is then wrapped in a sheet and shoved to the bottom of the tomb using a ten foot pole. The weather of the area caused the remains to decompose quickly and tombs were reused for many burials. The expression, “I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole,” is thought to have originated from this burial process. There are several other possible origins, but I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole.