Friday, March 15, 2013

Meat Our Favourite Horse Idioms

Thanks to terrible manufacturing practices and excessive media coverage, the horse meat scandal seems to be all the rage. Across the Channel, the French are surely laughing their chausettes off at the ensuing panic as the British fear eating the meat of an animal that, in their eyes, is better suited for racing and making glue.

Given the importance of horses throughout history for trade and transport as well as racing, they feature in many idioms and expressions of the English language and today, our dear readers, we will be explaining a few of our favourites.

To Beat/Flog A Dead Horse

To be utterly pointless. The horse is already dead, after all.

E.g. Worrying about the contents of Findus' lasagnas is like flogging a dead horse.

This horse has probably taken to the snowy fields to
avoid becoming some unsuspecting Brit's next meal.
...From The Horse's Mouth

To hear a piece of information from the horse's mouth is to get your information from someone  directly involved or highly knowledgeable.

E.g. "How do you know what's in Ikea's meatballs?"
"I know because I heard it from the horse's mouth!"

Hold Your Horses

To slow down, wait, or hold on for a moment. 

E.g. "Hold your horses! Don't eat that meat before you check where it came from!"

A Horse Of A Different Color

When something is a horse of a different color, it's something that causes a break from preconceived notions. The saying was made famous in the film The Wizard of Oz, in which a horse that pulled Dorothy around in a carriage periodically changed colors. It was actually several horses whose hair was dyed with colored gelatin powder, but we digress.

E.g. "These delicious hamburgers are made from horse meat instead of beef? Why that's a horse of a different color!"

This is obviously not the real Trojan horse.
It's actually the model used in the Brad Pitt film Troy.
Trojan Horse

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, unless you're at a Greek wedding, of course. The story of Greeks hiding in a giant wooden horse masquerading as a giant gift has come to be the epitome of something appearing to have the best intentions but then turning out to be a trap.

E.g. The various horse meat products involved in this scandal are Trojan horses hiding behind the "beef" label.

...Could Eat A Horse

To be very hungry. In some cultures eating an entire horse is considered quite the feat and as a result having the appetite to devour one indicates you're serious when saying you're more than a bit peckish.

E.g. All that talk of lasagne and meatballs has made me so hungry I could eat a horse.

Did we leave out your favourite horse pun or idiom? Let us know in the comments.


  1. I've always wondered where "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" came from?

  2. It came from the fact that you can tell how old a horse is based on its teeth. Appraising the value of a gift when you should be grateful for receiving it was looked down upon so the idiomatic expression came from that.