Date: Fri, 6 Sep 1996 03:19:44 -1000

From: Norman Roberts nroberts[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]HAWAII.EDU

Subject: Re: wing and a prayer

The song "Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer," came out in early 1942. I

don't remember the movie, but it would have been a year or two later. The

song supposedly told of an actual flight. It was what we'd call

country/western today. The verses (which I can't remember but there were

several) recounted the mission. The chorus goes

Coming in on a wing and a prayer

Coming in on a wing and a prayer

Though there's one motor gone, we will still carry on

Coming in on a wing and a prayer.

The phrase had some currency, and maybe still does, but I haven't heard it

for a long time. I always interpreted it to mean "have a very narrow


Here and there I have known people of little wit (but of great pretension

to originality) who purposely invert set expressions. To something like

"You must have come in on a wing and a prayer." They reply, "It was worse.

A prayer and a wing."