|lower the boom|
Just wanted to know what this phrase means and, if possible, where it came from. Here are two examples.|
Yankees lower the boom on the Braves.
||Literally, a "boom" is a structure of lines, chains or ropes, and timbers which is lowered into a river as an obstruction, as to catch debris, but also as a blockade. The expression metaphorically extends this to any definitive act of blocking, halting, or stopping.|
Another valid explanation with real-world meanings has (had) to do with the world of sailing ships.|
On the Chesapeake Bay, oyster skipjacks hired pick-up crews of four or five hands. An unruly crewman was disciplined when the captain would "lower the boom on him" by dropping the boom (the horizontal attachment to the mast) down full, swinging suddenly against the wind, thus causinng the boom to swing suddenly across the deck. The crewman would have the boom lowered on him, and he'd be swept over the side. Whether he was picked up again or not probably depended on the degree of displeasure that other crewmen felt toward him.
The best part was that this "accident" could be reported as a normal hazard of the maritime life.
Still another use of the term was "paid off with the boom." Here, unscrupulous captains would use the techique to reduce the crew by one member so that he'd not need to pay out as much cash at the end of the cruise. Ghastly, but such practices were reported on the Chesapeake.
"Literally, a "boom" is a structure of lines, chains or ropes..." True.
And literally, if we look for roots and origins, we can't overlook the Dutch- Platdeutsch "boom" meaning tree or log, and close to the word "baum" in current high German, meaning the same thing. These North-sea people were the seafarers who gave us much of our nautical terminology which was grafted whole-cloth into English.
And what more likely word could you have for that pole, hooked at right angles to the mast of a schooner or lanteen-rigged ship?