Definition of greasy pole in US English:

greasy pole

noun

informal
  • 1A pole covered with an oily substance to make it more difficult to climb or walk along, used especially as a form of entertainment.

    • ‘The greasy pole and pillow fighting contests provided great fun and frolics, while the raft and punt races were the big attraction on the day.’
    • ‘There was also the greasy pole competition, with men trying to push each other off a greased pole stretching across the swimming pool.’
    • ‘There was sailing throughout the morning, with water sports in the afternoon, including the best dressed boat, rowing races, assault boat and walking the greasy pole.’
    • ‘Dressed in coloured T-shirts and shorts, teams of firemen, hairdressers, bank clerks and builders would wobble across plastic stepping stones, slide down greasy poles and dodge jets of water from strategically-placed hoses.’
    • ‘The children played various games, much to the relief and amusement of the adults, including tug-of-war, musical chairs for the younger children, sack racing and lots more, including the greasy pole.’
    • ‘It is then on to land games of pool, dominoes, small goal football and greasy pole.’
    1. 1.1 Used to refer to the difficult route to the top of someone's profession.
      ‘he steadily climbed the greasy pole toward the job he coveted most’
      • ‘Now he seems to me like so many captains of industry who've slithered right up the greasy pole on the backs of more talented and hard-working people.’
      • ‘It is not all gloom and doom if you fail to climb the greasy pole.’
      • ‘They put tremendous energy into climbing the greasy pole but it turned out to be an end in itself, not the means to changing the country.’
      • ‘When arrived at success, Beethoven deplored aristocratic patronage; while climbing the greasy pole he sought it out.’
      • ‘Far from it - he made his way up the greasy pole of power and fought constantly to stay at the top.’
      • ‘And the higher you've climbed up the greasy pole, by fair means or foul, the further you have to fall.’
      • ‘It'll just be a formality on your relentless climb up the greasy pole…’
      • ‘He remained a Daily Telegraph columnist and Spectator editor as he started to climb the greasy pole at Westminster.’
      • ‘It is a remarkably honest, modest assessment, which inevitably stirs suspicions that the speaker will not make it much further up the greasy pole.’
      • ‘He was unhappily married, bored with parish duties and ill-equipped to climb the ecclesiastical greasy pole, but his talents were finally being recognised.’
      • ‘Gordon admits he had a hand climbing the greasy pole - his company is a family business.’
      • ‘Hereditary rulers are even freer because they do not have to consider how to help their offspring up the greasy pole.’
      • ‘If these three MPs had any integrity they would oppose the Government, but of course climbing up the greasy pole to self-aggrandisement is more important than natural justice.’
      • ‘It seems that he will work with anyone in an attempt to shin his way up the greasy pole.’
      • ‘The most crude method is to look at how far a politician has climbed up the greasy pole marked promotion.’
      • ‘They are not doing the job for money, or to climb the greasy pole.’
      • ‘Having climbed the greasy pole the last thing he intended was to slide back down it with nothing to show for his labours.’
      • ‘He climbed the greasy pole of British politics with a mixture of stealth and sincerity.’
      • ‘In the top job, he was isolated from the people with whom he had climbed the greasy pole.’
      • ‘In this he depressingly mimics too many climbers of the corporate greasy pole.’