The saying “the beatings will continue until morale improves” might seem a bit alien to you. If you’ve heard it before but struggle to understand its meaning, we’ve got all the information you need to figure it out! By the end of this, you can start using it yourself (in the proper context).
What Does “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” Mean?
The meaning of “the beatings will continue until morale improves” is that until people (often soldiers) start to fall in line and show confidence in their ranks, they will not be given freedom or liberty. The beatings are there to punish them until they work as a team.
The saying is most commonly seen in a military sense. You won’t often come across this used in daily life. We’ll include examples at the end to show you how rare it is to use this.
It’s worth noting that if you haven’t heard this saying before, there’s nothing wrong with that! You’re not missing out, and we’ll talk you through the origin anyway!
Origin Of The Saying “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves”
There are plenty of ways to split up the saying, but that makes finding the exact origin a little more complicated than it usually would be. We thought we’d split them into bite-size sections for you, so you can see exactly where each piece of the puzzle comes from.
First, let’s define morale. Since that’s making up the bulk of this saying, we thought it was appropriate.
Morale means “confidence” and is mainly used in a military sense.
The first recorded use of “morale” was around 1831. People may have confused the English with the French moral because in French, “le moral” means “temperament,” but “la morale” means “morality.” We took the “la morale” part and turned it into what we see as “morale” today.
The first known use of the phrase can be tied back to the navy. In 1966, The Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations (Robert Debs Heinl) included a variation of the phrase.
The first phrase variation we see is “there will be no liberty on board this ship until morale improves.”
The idea behind this saying is much the same as the one we’ve already discussed. We can see that “beatings” is replaced by “no liberty.” “Liberty” is freedom, meaning that if we don’t have any of it, we can’t get on with what we want to do in our lives until the overall morale improves.
House Of Commons Debates
Funnily enough, in the same year (1966) as the above quote, the House of Commons Debates, Official Report Canada quoted a similar iteration of the saying. Yet again, the saying wasn’t quite the same as it is known now, and it wasn’t the same as the one in Robert Debs Heinl’s book, but it was close.
In the House of Commons Debates, Official Report, the saying “there will be no leave until morale improves” was quoted. The end of the phrase “until morale improves” was underlined in this case, adding stress to it.
As you can see, all three of the sayings are very similar in their delivery and their message. The idea is that until we can work together as a group or a team, there’s no way anyone will get a chance to do anything they like.
If you haven’t heard of this saying before, it’s most likely because you don’t have a military background to find it in. It’s considered a very harsh saying, with the idea that you have to keep being beaten down until you eventually surrender and improve your overall morale.
Nowadays, this saying seems a bit old-fashioned, as there are easier ways to improve the teamwork of a group, both in the military and outside of it. That’s most likely why the saying isn’t nearly as popular today as it was back in the 1960s when it was listed as the quotes we mentioned above.
How To Use “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” In A Sentence
Now it’s time to show you some examples of it being used. Of course, it’s not every day that you’ll come across one of the situations we’re about to show you, so you might never find a good time to use it yourself.
Still, we think it’s wise for you to learn as many phrases and idioms as you can while you’re getting more familiar with your English skills! It’s a great way to take your native speaking to the next level.
- I’m not going to let up until you all work together. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
- How dare you think you can have some fun before we’ve got to the team-building. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
- Alright, men. I’ve made my orders clear. There will be no liberty on board this ship until morale improves.
- Do you think it’s funny? Well, let me tell you that the beatings will continue until morale improves.
- I don’t like to do this, but the captain has said there would be no leave until morale improves. We have to work together, guys.
- Orders from up above, sir! There will be no leave until morale improves.
- I don’t understand why they think we’ll work harder when we’re threatened. They said the beatings will continue until morale improves.
- Okay, team. I know this is only college football and not the military, but I’d like to point out that the beatings will continue until morale improves.
- There will be no leave until morale improves. If you don’t like it, then you’re part of the wrong team.
There are very limited cases where a saying like this will work. However, we included as many varying places as possible. Most of the time, it’s still used in the military to get a group of people to work together. You may sometimes find it in team sports, too (only if the coach has a particularly harsh training style or militaristic background themselves).
You may also like: 4 Words For A Story With A Moral Lesson
Martin is the founder of Grammarhow.com. With top grades in English and teaching experience at university level, he is on a mission to share all of his knowledge about the English language. Having written thousands of articles, he is an expert in communicating difficult topics in a clear and understandable language.
Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.