sleeveless errand: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘sleeveless errand’ mean?

A "sleeveless errand" refers to a pointless or fruitless task, without any meaningful outcome or purpose.

Idiom Explorer

Unveiling the Mystery

An idiom in American English, sleeveless errand, is used to describe a pointless task or errand with no tangible benefit or result. The term "sleeveless" refers to clothing or garments without sleeves, while "errand" means a short journey taken to accomplish a specific purpose. When combined, these words convey the idea of an errand lacking substance or purpose.

This idiom has its roots in the early 17th century, and has been used figuratively since then. It is commonly used in both spoken and written contexts to emphasize the fruitlessness or pointlessness of a particular task or action. You may come across it in literature, novels, plays, poetry, or even everyday conversations.

It's interesting to note that this idiom is primarily used in American English. While idiomatic expressions often vary across different dialects and regions, this particular one is more commonly recognized and employed in American English.

She wore a sleeveless top to run errands.

The idiom "lost errand" is related to sleeveless errand. "Lost errand" suggests a task or errand that is not only pointless, but also lost or wasted, with no hope of achieving any desired result. It implies a greater sense of futility and disappointment.

Another related idiom is "fool's errand." Similar to sleeveless errand, it refers to a task or errand that is devoid of any real purpose or benefit and is likely to be a waste of time. However, "fool's errand" additionally conveys the sense of being foolish or naïve for undertaking such a task.

The idiom "mug's game" is also connected to sleeveless errand. "Mug" is a slang term for a gullible or easily deceived person. Therefore, a "mug's game" refers to a task or activity that is a complete waste of time, often with the added implication of being fooled or tricked into engaging in it.

Lastly, there's the idiom "sleeves from one's vest." While not directly related to sleeveless errand, it includes the word "sleeves" and provides an interesting contrast. "Sleeves from one's vest" means to reveal or expose one's true intentions or feelings, especially when they were previously hidden or kept secret. It highlights the idea of metaphorically removing the sleeves from one's vest to reveal what was concealed.

To sum up, sleeveless errand is an idiom used to describe a purposeless task or errand. Its roots can be traced back to the early 17th century, and it remains a part of American English idiomatic language. Other related idioms include "lost errand," "fool's errand," "mug's game," and "sleeves from one's vest." Each of these idioms adds a unique nuance to the concept of a fruitless or pointless task.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom sleeveless errand can be used in a sentence:

  • Going to the grocery store without a shopping list is a sleeveless errand, as you will likely forget to buy important items.
  • Trying to convince him to change his mind is a sleeveless errand; he is too stubborn to reconsider.
  • Attending that meeting without any preparation would be a complete sleeveless errand; you won't be able to contribute effectively.

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