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I Just Learned What "Balls To The Wall" Actually Refers To And I Feel Dirty AF

I know what you're thinking and you're WRONG!

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We've all heard of the phrase "balls to the wall," right?

Disney

AND we all thought it referred to testicles somehow, right?

HBO

In my mind, I always pictured it looking something like dudes twerking upside down.

FOX

I've been told I'm alone in this, but it just seems like "balls to the wall" implies something fun, you know?

Or, like, some accidental crotch-meets-wall incident involving a trampoline.

NBC

Trampolines: also fun.

If not, maybe a gruesome punishment involving hammers, nails, and a lot of blood?

FOX

Not fun at all :(

BUT NO. If you thought any of these things, you'd be wrong! The expression actually has to do with...military aviation.

Paramount Pictures

Basically, it's all about taking a nose dive reaaally fast. To go full speed in a fighter plane, you typically have to shift the throttle to the front of the cockpit. You can also shift another control, the joystick, to the same position to send the plane into a dive.

20th Century Fox

The front of the cockpit is also known as the firewall. Hence the "wall" part.

Nickelodeon

The firewall in computing originated from this phrase, since the front of the cockpit was supposed to protect the rest of the plane from an engine fire. Similarly, a computing firewall is supposed to provide a barrier between your computer and untrusted networks.

As for those mysterious balls: They actually refer to the tops of the throttle and joystick, which are both typically topped with ball-shaped knobs. So shifting both balls to the (fire)wall results in a crazy dive done at maximum speed.

Paramount Pictures

It's all so clear to me now.

Some people theorize the phrase is older and actually comes from operating steam engines, but there's no real record to back this theory up.

ABC

Veterans, on the other hand, have claimed they've been using the phrase since the 1950s, and it's been recorded in use since the Vietnam War.

Either way, the phrase "balls to the wall" never actually referred to male anatomy, though the association may be why the phrase became so popular.

FOX

Who am I to say?

Personally, I think we, as a society, need to cleanse our souls and appreciate how cool fighter planes are.

Paramount Pictures
  1. Okay, but you definitely thought "balls to the wall" had something to do with testicles, right?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    UM, YES. I still don't believe you.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Absolutely not, your mind is sullied.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    I thought it had to do with dodge ball, tbh.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    I have literally no opinion about this, why do you?
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Okay, but you definitely thought "balls to the wall" had something to do with testicles, right?
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