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.
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 angle themselves in certain ways to 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. This example is from a newspaper called The Boston Daily Globe, 1903. The expression is used in connection with boxing, which is unsurprising given that it came from this sport. Anyways, in a part of the newspaper, a summary is given of a recent sparring match, and 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 phrase 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.
- Taylor’s car broke down on his way to work, so he rolled with the punches and called a taxi.
- The sprinklers to Amelia’s front yard were broken, so she decided to roll with the punches by using the hose instead.