Up sticks

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Hammond Egg | 17:44 Wed 05th Jul 2006 | Phrases & Sayings
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What is the derivation of the term 'up sticks', with the meaning 'to move from one settled location to another' - does it have anything to do with the Battle of Agincourt?


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Hi Hammond

Don't think it dates back that far........

Could have been used originally, when people moved from one camp to another, or sometimes it meant moving furniture, probably one of those without a clear history of when and where it came from.....
�Up sticks' is not related to cricket - or Agincourt! - as many people seem to think, believing that lifting the wickets and leaving the pitch at the end of a match is where the idea of �going away' came from.
In fact, in the early 1800s, one meaning of the word 'sticks' was a ship's masts, yard-arms, spars and so other words, all the upper �woodwork' associated with sailing-ships. Hence, for sailors to 'up sticks' was to organise their masts etc in preparation for departure. Consequently, it has come more recently to mean simply 'depart'.
There are some idioms in which the word 'sticks' refers to the wickets in cricket...'a great player behind the sticks' = a good wicket-keeper...a batsman with an injured foot might be said to be 'slow between the sticks' etc. But 'up sticks' is not one of them. The Oxford English Dictionary is quite clear on the nautical origin of the phrase, �up sticks'.
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Thanks both.
I sure would have known if it was derived from cricket as my father used to play for Yorkshire!

N00dles, this question is one of the hardy it keeps on appearing. The only reason I mentioned cricket at all is that that game - and the pulling of stumps specifically - is the most frequently offered explanation. Sadly, perhaps, it is incorrect.

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