I'm reading this article: https://qr.ae/TWFMOe

What does 'boot off of our throats' mean here?

"The larger challenge is building an economy that restores our autonomy, gets the boot off of our throats and puts our energies and innovation to work in addressing the real challenges of this era, like climate change


The cited usage refers to the metaphoric image of an oppressor having his boot / heel on the throat / neck of a victim (the hapless victim can't move / breathe). The implication here is that the current economic system is responsible for this oppression (so it needs to be "rebuilt").

The reference to restoring our autonomy (giving us back our independence / freedom) suggests that the writer is part of some socially / economically disadvantaged group seeking the freedom to make their own choices. Specifically, so they can focus on things like combating climate change, rather than social injustice.

If the victim (with that metaphoric boot on his throat) could speak, he might say Get your boot off [of] my throat! As this NGram for Get your hands off (of) me! shows, the second preposition (of) isn't normally included in such contexts. Arguably the "double preposition" form is slightly more "emphatic", but it doesn't really make much difference - it's just a stylistic choice.

Also, because it's an important part of Anglophones' linguistic heritage, I can't resist flagging up George Orwell's closely related metaphoric usage in 1984, where he characterizes his dystopian future as a boot stamping on a face forever.

Finally, note that native speakers will be divided as to whether the cited usage should feature singular off of our throat or plural off of our throats (see “On their back” or “on their backs”? as asked on ELU some years ago).

  • Even though you can find 'off of', meaning 'from', as far back as Samuel Pepys, many people regard it as very casual, informal, or even illiterate. Nov 1 '19 at 15:39
  • @MichaelHarvey: I expect they'd be the kind of people who supposedly prompted Churchill to say This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put when told not to end his sentences with prepositions. If there are still any such people, I can only hope they keep themselves to themselves. Nov 1 '19 at 15:54

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