Swings and Roundabouts

This weekend I got an e-mail from a guy in Scotland concerning battery packs. He said he was looking for one for an Archos video player. I said the Archos looked interesting and asked how he liked it. He said it had some advantages over the 5G iPod (larger screen) and disadvantages (it’s bulkier). He wrote “it’s swings and roundabouts.”

I knew what he was saying but looked up that unusual phrase anyway. It’s a British idiom that means there are tradeoffs and is short for “What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts,” which doesn’t make it any clearer.

2 thoughts on “Swings and Roundabouts

  1. A U.K. workmate of mine says it is a playground reference, a swing being the obvious, and a round-a-bout being the thing you spin on that I guess we called a merry-go-rounds. On both you don’t really get anywhere. The pros and cons cancel one another.

  2. That’s where I got lost. I thought “roundabout” referred to traffic circles. So I thought “swings” must be a British word for some other kind of highway design feature. But it adds an extra layer of absurdity since it’s referring to two things you neither gain nor lose on.

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