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Example:

— I need you back in 4 instead of 12. I got half of Korea coming in at noon.
— No, no, no, I'm on a 12-hour blow. Call Tedesco.

What does a 12-hour blow mean?

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  • 1
    Just guessing -- down-time after a previous shift of work|on-duty.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 13:04
  • 1
    Can you please add a source for the quotation? Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 13:29

3 Answers 3

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Blow here is a slang usage (originally, U.S.) meaning a break (from work, particularly, physical work).

Compare to take a breather = a pause, as for breath, and blow = cocaine or other "recreational" drugs, and stop for a puff = have a cigarette break.

I confess that after several minutes checking online, I can't be sure which of the above represents the origin of the usage, but it puts me in mind of a whale surfacing for breath (through its blowhole), so I'd go with the blow = breather route. Nevertheless, I'm sure many people say "I'm going for a blow", when they're thinking in terms of having a "smoke break", rather than a chance to catch their breath.


Personally, I find OP's cited usage slightly "odd", because to me a "blow" is a relatively short break. But I'm a BrE speaker - perhaps either AmE speakers are okay with using it for longer periods of being "off duty", or in the specific context, the speaker thinks of 12 hours as a relatively short period of free time (perhaps he's a soldier, offshore oil-rigger, etc., who's normally "at work" for weeks at a time, punctuated by periods of several days' leave of absence).

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  • 6
    It sounds pretty odd to me too (US).
    – cHao
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 16:14
  • Reading over the War of the Worlds (2005) narrative, there is a reference to union regulations later on. I think the additional context changes the meaning a bit. Certain union regulations require a specific length of time off after working a certain number of hours and it may be the slang was appropriated to mean that specific type of enforced break. I'm not really familiar with it either.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 18:13
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    +1 As native Br E I would have completely misinterpreted the sentence. Blow as a rest break is something I've never come across, ever. I would have mistakenly assumed he was abbreviating 'blow out' & was either drinking, eating, or both, to excess. Two nations divided by one language ;-) Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 18:42
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From Wiktionary:

Blow - noun sense 2 - (informal) A chance to catch one’s breath.
The players were able to get a blow during the last timeout.

The word seems to be often used in this sense in sporting contexts.

From another source, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English:

blow, sense 4, "a breathing space"..
..get a blow, to get a breath of fresh air, or a considerable exposure to wind: from ca. 1890

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  • So, what's the meaning? The gay has 12 hours of tree time before he has to go back to work? Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 13:36
  • @CookieMonster - Yes, the guy was taking a 12-hour rest, a breath of fresh air, so to speak. Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 13:40
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It means to take a break (short). You might say, "I need to take a quick blow."

It would absolutely not make sense to say that sentence. A 12 hour blow would only be used in a porn film. The word blow has drug and sex connotations and generally would never and should never be used like that unless you are doing an inside joke.

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