So my mind went walkabout recently. Actually, for this ordinary lady, the mind taking a trip is not an uncommon occurrence. I will start down one path (at work or home) and the train of my thoughts will branch off again and again until the original topic is lost. Tangential thinking I call it. Wandering far afield might be a better explanation. What can I say, I like where a tangent can take me. Sometimes the trip is fun or vastly amusing. My recent walkabout mind trip was while listening to a guy talking while standing in a checkout line. The guy two customers ahead of me was talking, and talking, and talking. He talked to anyone and everyone. This guy’s speech was filled with idioms. Fairly positive that not one sentence he spoke was a direct statement.
So I am considering all the idioms this man was using when questions started popping into my head. Has anyone ever noticed how often we use animals in idiomatic speech? Where did they come from? Do most of them even make sense? How many have I used? That last question started a list in my head.
- Blind as a bat
- Busy as a beaver
- Drunk as a skunk
- Gentle as a lamb
- Poor as a church mouse
- Scared as a rabbit
- Stubborn as a mule
- Black sheep of the family
- Bull in a china shop
- Cat got your tongue
- Cry wolf
- Let sleeping dogs lie
- A dog’s life
- Hold your horses
- Sick as a dog
- Raining cats and dogs
(The above is not the complete list in my head by any means, just what I could remember when I sat down to write.)
Blind as a bat – point of fact, bats are not blind. That is correct, bats can see, just not perfectly in complete darkness (who can). Bats compensate for the complete darkness with a really great echo location system. So this idiom makes no sense, yet I have used it.
Drunk as a skunk – cannot remember the last time I have seen a skunk belly up to the bar. I did a bit of research on this without definitive results. Some speculate that the term comes from “stinking drunk”. So stinking becomes skunk, because the poor maligned skunk sprays a foul spray when scared or annoyed. Again, illogical, yet I have used it.
Poor as a church mouse – do any mice have riches? Why is a church mouse so much worse off than a field mouse? At least the church mouse has a roof over his head. I would think that makes him better off. Yep, I have used this one as well.
Bull in a china shop – Mythbusters busted this one! Amazingly enough the bulls were very delicate footed in the mocked up china shop. They nimbly avoided the shelves even when multiple bulls were pushed through the shop.
Raining cats and dogs- do not get me started on this one? Was there a tornado? Hurricane? I could not find an origin for this idiom, though some believe its origin is in that after large storms dead animals are washed up in the streets, ect. Really this idiom is sort of gory if you really think about it. Yep, use this one too, but thinking on it might need to remove this one.
The examples can keep going and going. The point this ordinary lady is getting at is why do we need to use animals in our expressions? Ramblings of a mind on walkabout.