Last modified on 2 April 2014, at 20:23

no strings attached

EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

According to one source[1], the origin of this phrase is from the cloth industry, where a small flaw in a fabric would be marked by a string so it could easily be spotted. This suggests a meaning of "without flaws".

In ancient times, documents that were written on parchment had strings that were used to tie them shut, after they were rolled up. The Babylonian Talmud in Tractate Bava Metzi'a[2] mentions an example of a man who gives his wife a get (bill of divorce) with a string attached, but holds on to the string, so that he can snatch it back (apparently because he is unwilling to actually give her a divorce). According to Jewish law, this is not a valid divorce, because the man has not properly delivered the get, by freely giving it to his wife.

AdjectiveEdit

no strings attached (not comparable)

  1. (often hyphenated) Characterized by an absence of conditions or obligations.
    • 2009, Vivian Salama, "Pakistan and China: A Fraying Friendship?," Time, 19 Feb.:
      Since then, Beijing has often offered its support to Islamabad in the way of economic assistance, but also with no-strings-attached military aid.

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AdverbEdit

no strings attached (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Without conditions or obligations; without a catch.
    • 1902, Jack London, "A Daughter of the Snows", Chapter 21.
      Listen. We've kept it quiet, but she's in with the elect on French Hill. Her claim's prospected the richest of the outfit. Present indication half a million at least. In her own name, no strings attached. Couldn't she take that and go anywhere in the world and reinstate herself?
    For a friend, I'll help out for free, no strings attached.

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ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.englishcut.com/archives/000055.html
  2. ^ 1986 July 28, Isadore Epstein, Tractate Baba Metzi'a, London: The Soncino Press: