What does the expression “to gird up one’s loins” mean and Where does it come from?

Another Biblical phrase that has been taken in its early figurative sense directly into the language.

He who “girds up his loins” prepares for action, usually physical and strenuous, but it may also be mental.

In the physical sense the allusion was to the workman who, in preparation for work, tucked the long skirt of his garment into his girdle or belt.

The reference is to Proverbs xxxi, 17, which in the Coverdale translation (1535) reads: “She gyrdeth hir loynes with strength.”