Sometimes when folks look up the origins of phrases in my books they forget the same expression can be said or listed more than one way.
My original volume of “Most Comprehensive Origins of Clichés, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions” has 75 reviews on Amazon. The composite is 4.4 stars out of 5. Recently someone purchased a copy and wrote a 3-star review based on not finding “Pig in a poke.” It is actually in that book under “Buying a pig in a poke.”
Just the other day, my friend who boards our little dog when we are away, Phyllis, asked me about “Healthy as a horse.” Even I looked it up that way and soon realized this simile is listed under “As healthy as a horse.”
This is an Americanism which comes from the image built around horses in the 19th century as a symbol of strength and physical capacity, the one which later caused “horsepower” to be used as the unit of measuring the power of a gasoline engine.
It was in use prior to this, but the earliest verifiable citation comes from the American edition of the international magazine, The Review of Reviews, November, 1891, in an article titled “William II, Emperor of Germany,” by W.T. Snead:
“The Kaiser avoids the disorders which told so disastrously upon the iron constitution of Peter, and with the exception of the abscess in the ear, he seems to be as healthy as a horse.”
So next time you say someone is as healthy as a horse you’ll know how it started! Eat right and stay fit and hopefully COVID will soon be a thing of the past!
If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at email@example.com.