Bat Idioms: Understanding the Meanings and Origins

Bats are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics that make them stand out among other animals. In many cultures, they are associated with mystery, darkness, and even fear. Unsurprisingly, bats have inspired a number of idioms that are used in everyday language. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common bat idioms, their meanings, and origins.

Blind as a bat

One of the most well-known bat idioms is “blind as a bat.” This expression is often used to describe someone who is visually impaired or unaware of their surroundings. Despite its popularity, the idiom is actually a misnomer. Bats are not blind; in fact, they have excellent eyesight. However, they use echolocation to navigate in the dark, emitting high-pitched sounds that bounce off objects and return to their ears as echoes. This allows them to “see” in the dark, even when it’s too dim for humans to see.

Have bats in the belfry

Another commonly used bat idiom is “have bats in the belfry.” This expression is used to describe someone who is behaving strangely or is perceived to be crazy. The origin of this idiom comes from the practice of bats roosting in the belfries of old churches. When disturbed, the bats would fly erratically and make a lot of noise, leading people to believe that they were mad.

Like a bat out of hell

“When someone moves ‘like a bat out of hell,’ it means they are moving very quickly and with great urgency.” This idiom is often used to describe someone who is running away from something or someone at full speed. The origin of this expression is unclear, but it’s thought to have been inspired by the way bats move at night. Bats are known for their speedy and unpredictable flight patterns, which can make them difficult to catch or track.

Go to bat for someone

To “go to bat for someone” means to defend or support them in a difficult situation. This idiom is derived from the game of baseball, where the batter’s teammates will cheer them on from the dugout and encourage them to hit the ball. The idea is that by showing support and solidarity, the batter is more likely to succeed. In the same way, when we go to bat for someone, we are showing our support and standing up for them.

Hang upside down like a bat

When someone “hangs upside down like a bat,” it means they are in an unusual or uncomfortable position. The idiom is based on the way that bats sleep, which is upside down. This allows them to stay hidden from predators and conserve energy.

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Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at Camford Publishing
Founder of On the Horizon (camford publishing)and The Technology Source, and professor of education at North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Morrison is author and co-author of over 200 publications focusing on educational planning and using information technology tools.Dr. Morrison has delivered numerous conference presentations and workshops for associations such as EDUCAUSE, AAHE, the College Board and others.He has served as a planning consultant to a number of colleges, universities, university systems, community colleges, educational agencies and public agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor, and Department of the Army.His consulting activities focus on assisting organizations to integrate information technology tools in teaching and management.

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