Sunday Cliches

I am  linking my blogs this week as I do Horse Week on Runnerwithablog. I just love those horses so much that I think it will be twice as fun do Horse Week on two blogs! I know I did equine clichés already, but there are so many more to explore. So here we go:

Straight from the horse’s mouth: information received from the highest authority. The origin of this one is the fact that one can tell the age of a horse from its teeth, so no matter what the owner tells you about the age of the horse, you can always find out the truth.

Hold your horses: keep calm, don’t get excited. This one was quite literal. Back in the day when horses were the preferred means of travel, horses needed to be well-trained and riders able to control them. Horses are a prey animal, and when one horse starts running, the rest don’t ask why, they just run too. Not a good thing on a busy street. Somewhere in America’s West during the 1800s, it became a phrase used to describe people instead.

Put the cart before the horse: to go about a process in a reverse order. The Romans used a similar saying, “currus bovem trahit praepostere”: the plow is drawn by the oxen in reversed position. That is the way this cliché first appeared in the English language, and over the last 250 years it has mutated to a horse and cart instead of ox and cart. Perhaps because horse’s became a primary form of travel, pulling actual carts and carriages?

To horse around: to play, play fighting or wrestling, joking. Also known as horseplay. The first known reference to this was in 1919. I was unable to find more on this one, so I am going out on a limb to explain, perhaps, how this came into being.  Horses are very playful animals. They have a tendency to pull fly masks and blankets off each other, they race and they kick at each other. Sounds like rough horseplay to me. I read of one horse that could not be kept in a stall–he opened the latch, no matter what they did, or how they tied it. Finally the owner took a length of rope and tied knots, spaced down the rope, in it and then gave it to the horse. He untied each knot, then opened the latch to his stall so he could bring it back to her.




Filed under Cliche Sunday

2 responses to “Sunday Cliches

  1. Such an important animal to the development of so many cultures and high status too – American, Native American, Mongolian… no wonder there are so many sayings about them 🙂


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