Sunday, November 11, 2007

Animal Adages

Cat got your tongue? A pig in a poke? Three dog night? If you're anything like me, you've spent many sleepless nights wondering about the origin of those adages. So put away your sleeping pills because I'm going to answer these burning questions--in other words, I'm going to put you to sleep.

Cat got your tongue?
Well, this one's a little gross. It may have originiated, long ago, in the Mideast, when it was common to punish a liar by cutting out his tongue. This tasty treat was then given to the king's pet cats for dinner.

A pig in a poke
Means to buy something without examination--an unknown. In the middle ages, a suckling pig would be sold in a bag (a poke). Some sellers would try to trick buyers by putting a cat in the bag instead. So don't buy a pig in a bag without checking it out first. You've been warned.

Cat's out of the bag
When the buyer finally got home with what he believed was a pig in a poke (see above), he discovered the bag held a cat instead. The cat was out of the bag, and the truth was known.

Three dog night
All these years, I thought Three Dog Night was just an early 70's band. Wrong. This adage comes from Australia, and means that on cold nights, aboriginals would sleep in a hole in the ground while embracing a dingo (or three).

Hope this helps with all that tossing and turning.


NuclearToast said...

And why is it that dogs get the lion's share of expressions? Dog tired. Sick as a dog. She looks like a dog. Let sleeping dogs lie. Dog day afternoon. Every dog has his day. Dog is my co-pilot. Dingoes ate my baby.. they just go on and on!

Lynn Sinclair said...

LOL, nt. But cat's do give dogs a run for their money: curiosity killed the cat, when the cat's away..., cat call, fat cat, look what the cat dragged in, not enough room to swing a cat (yikes!), on a hot tin roof.

Cats are quite pleased to share the limelight with "raining cats and dogs".

Lisa McMann said...

Are you serious? I had no idea about "Pig in a Poke." I thought it meant something else entirely.

Interesting post!

Heidi the Hick said...


I had heard about the 3 dog night but I didn't know it was Australian in origin!

The old Gift Horse thing is, of course, one of my faves. If someone gave you a free horse (which is shockingly easy to get, even these days) it would be considered rude to open the horse's mouth to look at his teeth and determine his age.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Lisa, I didn't know about the pig/poke thing either. A little before our time, I think.

Heidi, I should have included a horse adage--just for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you cleared that up! Too funny!

AuthorMomWith Dogs said...

Lynn, so glad you stopped by so I could discover your blog!

Katie Alender said...

Embracing a dingo! That's one way to keep warm. I prefer blankets... although my Winston is a pretty good little heater.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Karen, so glad you stopped by. I'll be visiting you again.

Katie, I guess dingos are easier to 'pack' when one is on the road.

A.S. King said...

You have just enlightened me to pig in a poke AND three dog night.

I once had a man look my gift horse in the mouth. Seriously.

Lynn Sinclair said...

You'll have to tell me that story when I see you next, Stella. Hopefully, in 2009. Thanks for dropping by.

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