stick one’s neck out: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘stick one's neck out’ mean?

The idiom "stick one's neck out" means to take a risk or put oneself in a vulnerable position by expressing an opinion or taking action that goes against the norm or common consensus.

Idiom Explorer

The Risks Involved

In the idiom "stick one's neck out", the word "stick" means to take a risk or put oneself in a vulnerable position. The phrase "one's neck" refers to one's personal well-being or safety. And the phrase "out" indicates that this action is being done publicly or openly.

The origin of this idiom is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have come from the literal act of sticking one's neck out. In certain animal species, such as the turtle or the giraffe, sticking the neck out is a vulnerable position and exposes them to potential harm. This physical action of vulnerability has been metaphorically extended to describe situations in which someone takes a risk or puts themselves in a potentially dangerous or uncomfortable position.

The idiomatic expression "stick one's neck out" is commonly used in the English language to describe someone's willingness to take a risk or show courage by expressing an opinion, taking a stand, or volunteering for a challenging task.

Using this idiom implies that the person is willing to face the consequences, whether positive or negative, of their actions. It highlights their bravery, as they are willing to put themselves in a vulnerable position for a certain cause or goal.

This idiom is often used in professional or personal contexts, such as in the workplace or in social situations, where taking risks or expressing strong opinions can be seen as admirable or courageous.

Taking risks requires courage, daring, and boldness.

One related idiom to "stick one's neck out" is "go out on a limb". This expression conveys a similar meaning of taking a risk or putting oneself in a vulnerable position. When someone goes out on a limb, they are taking a bold or daring action that may not be supported or approved by others. It requires courage and a willingness to face potential consequences.

Another related idiom is "out on a limb". This phrase is often used to describe someone who is in a difficult or vulnerable position, often due to their own actions or decisions. They have taken a risk and are now alone or unsupported in their position. It implies a sense of isolation and potential danger, as the person may be exposed to criticism or negative outcomes.

Similarly, "put one's ass on the line" is another related idiom that relates to taking a risk or putting oneself in a vulnerable position. It is a more informal and direct way of expressing the same idea. When someone puts their ass on the line, they are risking their personal well-being or reputation for a certain cause or goal.

To "take a risk" is a more general idiom that can be used interchangeably with "stick one's neck out". It emphasizes the act of taking a chance or making a decision that involves uncertainty or potential negative consequences. Taking a risk requires courage, as it involves stepping outside of one's comfort zone and being willing to face the unknown.

Lastly, "lead with one's chin" is another related idiom to "stick one's neck out". It refers to someone who is overly confident or brash in their actions or words, often disregarding potential consequences or criticisms. Leading with one's chin can be seen as a risky behavior, as it may invite conflict or backlash.

Overall, the idiom "stick one's neck out" captures the essence of bravery and risk-taking. It showcases the willingness to put oneself at potential risk in order to achieve a certain outcome. While the specific origins may be uncertain, the metaphorical power of this idiom remains, reminding us of the importance of courage and taking calculated risks in various aspects of life.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "stick one's neck out" can be used:

  • 1. Sheila is always willing to stick her neck out to help her colleagues, even if it means taking risks.
  • 2. The manager decided to stick his neck out and invest in the new startup, despite the uncertainties in the market.
  • 3. I'm not sure if I should stick my neck out and voice my true opinion during the meeting.

More "Risk" idioms