Roll With The Punches

Meaning:

1. To ‘roll with the punches‘ means to adapt to the hardships one may unexpectedly run into.

2. A boxing term that means to move one’s body or head in such a way so as to decrease the force of impact of the opponent’s incoming punches.

Example: I recently lost my job, one that I had for years. It feels odd waking up and not having to go to work. This is a troubling situation I’m in, but I’m trying to roll with the punches while I search for a new job.

Synonyms / Similar Phrases:

1. Tough it out

Roll with the punches idiom, boxer knock out
A boxer can “roll” with a punch by moving his body and head in certain ways. However, I don’t think that happened here.

The Origin Of ‘Rolling With The Punches’

It’s believed this phrase originates from boxing. ‘Rolling with the punches’ was, and still is, a boxing term. It refers to how boxers will often try to angle themselves in ways that help lessen the impact of incoming strikes. For instance, if an opponent throws a left punch, a boxer can ‘roll’ with it by moving his body and head back and to the left. As a result, even if the punch lands, it won’t be quite as damaging as a full contact strike. 

The earliest quote that I could find of this phrase is from the early 20th century, and it is used in connection with boxing. This example is from a newspaper called The Boston Daily Globe, 1903, in a section that is giving a summary of a recent sparring match. It reads:

“He repeated the blow a few seconds later and also clubbed Johnson on the cheek . . . Johnson allowed his head to roll with the punches and was not hurt. Johnson’s round.”

While the expression remains as a boxing term today, it has also developed a figurative meaning where a person ‘rolls’ with the problems they might unexpectedly run into.


Example Sentences

  • While heading home from the gym, Taylor’s car broke down, so he rolled with the punches by calling a taxi.
  • Amelia’s front yard sprinklers stopped working, so she decided to roll with the punches by watering with the hose instead.

Similar Example:

  • My neighbor’s are having a party and blasting loud music; they rarely do this so I’ll just tough it out and put in ear plugs.

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