'Yessa bub... She's all stove up..'

Ever since I was a boy, I have always heard and used the phrase, "she's all stove up". Although I can honestly say, I never gave too much consideration as to where the phrase came from. If you look online, there are several possibilities. However, the way it was once explained to me differs a bit from the standard use.

When I was young, my grandfather explained the phrase "stove up" in a few different ways. He said back in the days of steam-powered ships, they ran on coal. If the boat went "stove in", you were done for because it meant the boat was sinking and the fire in the furnace was out, and the boat would not likely be able to right itself due to total lack of power. If you did manage to get it back afloat, or "stove up", that meant you were able to right the boat and get the fire re-lit / engine started.

Despite a lot of searching, I have no source to verify this, so this could be just a family story. But it makes sense.

What does the dictionary have to say about all this?

Definitely, the most widely accepted definition is that an object, person, body part, car part, gas grill, whatever....is just all messed up, broken, or destroyed. F.U.B.A.R., if you will. Although, there could be another whole article for that phrase.

Merriam - Webster seems to support this definition on their website:

"Stove-upsuffering physical discomfort caused by injury, illness, exercise, or overwork."

Now, "stove in" is defined along the same lines, but a bit more aggressive. Again, Merriam - Webster has their definition, which fits right in with what most of us have always assumed:

"Stove-in: smashed inward."

So they're both right? Or maybe even wrong?

Again, what my grandfather told me could be true, or it could be good old-fashioned grandfather talk. We've all sat around and listened to a bunch of our grandpa's tall tales about the old days. But I gotta say, he does make some sense.

I'm certainly not trying to change anyone's mind about what it may or may not actually mean, but hey...it's a phrase we throw around in these parts almost as much as we do "wicked". Right, bub?

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