The Business End of Something Meaning
Definition: The part of an object that does something or carries out the procedure.
Usually, this expression is used to refer to tools or weapons.
Origin of Business End of Something
The first written usage of this expression was in the year 1878. It referred to a tool: a carpet tack. Over time, people used this idiom more in the sense of guns and knives.
Most likely this expression developed because business is a synonym for work. The business end is the working end (or the functional end) of something.
Examples of Business End of Something
Two young women use the expression while building a bookcase.
Cassie: Thanks for helping me build this.
Rebecca: Sure! I’m happy to help. It’s no trouble for me since I’ve done it many times. I’m glad to share my knowledge!
Cassie: Okay. So what is this, and what does it do?
Rebecca: That’s an electric drill. This is the business end of it, so point that part away from yourself.
Cassie: Okay. That doesn’t seem so hard.
Rebecca: Now, press it down and start it.
In the below dialogue, two friends discuss sword fighting.
Antonio: Look at these new swords I bought online.
Igor: Oh, cool! Can we play with them?
Antonio: Well, they’re swords. They’re not for playing. But, if you know how to use them, we can do some fencing.
Igor: Well, I know you try to stick the business end of the sword into your opponent.
Antonio: Um, maybe you’re not ready to fence with a real sword yet. Let’s use the wooden ones.
In the below article, the script of a play uses the expression to describe the pointy end of a weapon.
- Other times, the gestures come from Mr. Blankenbuehler’s interpretation of the words, layered with references both 18th-century and contemporary. For example, when a character mentions “the business end of a bayonet,” a dancer taps his sternum while beckoning an imaginary opponent with the other hand. –Wall Street Journal
This article excerpt uses the expression to describe the shooting end of a rocket.
- Colin Furze, 32, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, tied strings to each of his socks and attached the other ends to a projectile set to come out the business end of a shoulder-mounted launcher. –New York Post
The phrase the business end of something means the portion of an object that performs the task. For example, the business end of a knife is the sharp end.