Last modified on 16 June 2013, at 20:48

at the high port

EnglishEdit

Prepositional phraseEdit

at the high port

  1. (idiomatic, military, of a weapon) held with two hands as in "port arms", but carried well above the head. The high port is often the position taught for running (at the double) or charging.
    • 1943, Francis Jackson, Passage to Tobruk: the diary of a Kiwi in the Middle East:
      I raced across the desert, rifle above my head at the high-port. A man screamed, and throwing up his hands, rolled head over heels. I jumped over him and kept on running.
    • 2004, Peter Godwin, Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa:
      If you mistakenly referred to your rifle as a gun, you found yourself doubling around the parade ground with your rifle in one hand above your head at the high port, and your other hand clutching your balls. As you ran you had to shout: 'This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting, this is for fun.'
    • 2008, Angus Hyslop, The Plough, the Gun and the Glory:
      'Place your rifle at the high port! That means above your head Mitchell!' James lifted the weapon and held over his head as ordered.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) sticking up; (of hair, etc) standing up at a marked angle
    • 1967, Philip Allfree, Warlords of Oman:
      I have seen no more romantic figure than Stewart Carter, his head and shoulders wrapped in a flaming red head-scarf, moustaches at the high port, crouched fanatically over the steering-wheel of a stripped-down Land Rover.
    • 1986, Nicholas Best, Tennis and the Masai
      Once, they disturbed a family of forest hog, which trotted off with tails at the high port; once a lone hyena, [...]
    • 1996, Derek Peter Franklin, A Pied Cloak: Memoirs of a Colonial Police Officer (Special Branch):
      We had just changed On another patrol Kinyua indicated that he could hear something in the undergrowth ahead. We had just changed places and I had assumed the lead position, when he thrust me to one side and stabbed with his shotgun a gigantic porcupine that was coming down the track at me with its bristles at the high port!
    • 2006, George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman on the March:
      Here he ran out of words, and drew himself up, beard at the high port, shaking his great head while he clasped my hand, and I meditated on the astonishing ease with which strong men of Victorian vintage could be buffaloed into incoherent embarrassment by the mere mention of feminine frailty.
  3. (idiomatic, by extension, of anything, not just a weapon) held in front of the body, especially in an authoritative or aggressive way
    • 1990, Gerald Haigh, Nipscratting? No thanks, in Equity and efficiency: school management in an international context, Lynn Davies (editor):
      We can all surely see, though, that there will be heads who will weep for joy at the challenges posed by LFM, which may yet provide for the apotheosis of those colleagues who want to see a full exercise book before issuing a new one. Calculators at the high port they will prowl their schools switching off lights, cutting pencils in half and pondering the cost-effectiveness of — as an ex-colonial head with whom I worked longed to do — deterring vandals by establishing a family of baboons in the school grounds.
    • 1991, Stanley Middleton, Beginning to end:
      Thomas Tring, emerging with violin in left hand and bow vertical at the high port in his right, looked about Clark's age, had a long head with thin untidy hair round a clear parting. His accompanist, two yards behind, was ruddy-faced with glasses [...]
    • 1996, Reginald Hill, Blood Sympathy
      The warden had spotted them. Mouth open in a predatory snarl which showed a metal tooth which it was rumoured actually grew there, she advanced towards them, her note-book held before her like a buckler, her pencil at the high port. The men turned and looked at her. That was all. Just looked.
  4. (idiomatic, slang, by extension) at once, quickly; unhesitatingly, vigorously.
    • 1981, Dan Davin, Selected stories:
      Eventually he went off, still bubbling with enthusiasm. When his motorbike was out of earshot I went to look for Smithy. He must have taken off smartly at the high port as soon as he saw Elmer but I ran him down in the end.
    • 1982, Roy Parsons, The summer book: a New Zealand miscellany:
      [...] So we thought we'd better hop our frames out of there at the high port.
    • 1989, André Dennison, J. R. T. Wood, The war diaries of André Dennison:
      [...] inimitable drivers had taken it into their heads to leave at the high-port when the firing started.
    • 1997, Ron Thomson, Mahohboh:
      No sooner had the shot been fired than they took off at the high port, racing hell bent for leather right in our direction.
  5. (idiomatic) Positioned ready for immediate use.
    • 1970, West coast review, Volumes 5-6
      Two seconds later Charlie comes out with his hand at the high port, ready for shaking.
    • 1985, Punch, Volume 289:
      Among the other Americans was a bright, bird-like lady with her note-book at the high port and her biro uncapped and ready...
    • 1990, Gerald Haigh, Nipscratting? No thanks, in Equity and efficiency: school management in an international context, Lynn Davies (editor):
      We can all surely see, though, that there will be heads who will weep for joy at the challenges posed by LFM, which may yet provide for the apotheosis of those colleagues who want to see a full exercise book before issuing a new one. Calculators at the high port they will prowl their schools switching off lights, cutting pencils in half and pondering the cost-effectiveness of — as an ex-colonial head with whom I worked longed to do — deterring vandals by establishing a family of baboons in the school grounds.
    • 1996, Reginald Hill, Blood Sympathy
      The warden had spotted them. Mouth open in a predatory snarl which showed a metal tooth which it was rumoured actually grew there, she advanced towards them, her note-book held before her like a buckler, her pencil at the high port. The men turned and looked at her. That was all. Just looked.

SynonymsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • James Alfred Moss, Manual of Military Training, (G. Banta Pub. Co., 1917) page 192, which notes: "In the charge the men are taught to run at the "High Port" (the rifle is held as in "Port arms," but is carried well above the head)."
  • Partridge, Dictionary of Slang, 7th Ed.