OK, so I've been absent. Please forgive me.
Do you enjoy animals? Then you'll enjoy this week's theme of animal phrases.
crow's–feet – wrinkles extending from the outer corner of the eye
A negative term or a positive one? You be the judge. Here's a quote each way.
– Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Small and compact, like a jockey, John [Truman, Harry's father] had a weathered, sunburned face and crow's–feet that gave a hint of a smile around the eyes.
– David McCullough, Truman
shanks' mare – on foot; walking [using your shanks], as opposed to riding a horse, car, or other transport. [Wordcrafter note: usually in the sense of being unable to afford better.] The apostrophe tends to migrate; see quotes.
to find you at twenty in high hair and long Victorian skirts
trudging shanks' mare fifteen miles a day in Paris
because you could not afford a carriage.
– Anne Sexton, Walking in Paris (poem)
Or you take the race track. I go a lot, and I usually do pretty well. … But there's plenty of times I've come home from the track on shanks' mare instead of in a taxicab with my wallet swollen up.
– Stephen King, The Shining
coon's age – a long time
– Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), April 21, 1997
… in those times, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala., were more or less equal to Atlanta in population, but they haven't been close in a coon's age.
– Washington Times, Jan. 27, 1994
I remember my grandparents used to use that phrase. They also used the word "coon" in a perjorative way, too, but I'd better not talk about that.
In my region the phrase shanks' pony is still commonly heard.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
mare's tails – long straight streaks of cirrus cloud [sometimes used to mean similar wispy streaks from waterfalls, waves, etc.]
– Telegraph, Feb. 5, 2001
These were signs of stormy weather ahead. An old proverb [in various forms] counseled, "Mare's tails and mackerel scales make tall ships take in their sails."
These three seem to go together!
mare's nest – 1. a muddle 2. a misconception
dog's breakfast; dog's dinner – slang: a mess
pig's breakfast – colloq.: something unattractive or unappetizing; a mess, a muddle
– Ian Fleming, Doctor No
Most Americans are aware that our health-care system is in deep trouble, a dog's breakfast of private providers and insurers that has weak and inconsistent incentives for quality control and cost containment.
– Daniel L. McFadden, 2000 Nobel laureate in economics, in Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 2007
One evening he tried to cut his own hair, for it was falling in his eyes. … He made a pig's breakfast of the haircut …
– Gregory Maguire, Son of a Witch: Volume Two in the Wicked Years
cat's meow – the "in" thing"; someone wonderful or remarkable, and popular
cat's pajamas – same
bee's knees – same
[originated as 1920s slang]
– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 14, 2008
But it's not just kids who think SpongeBob is the cat's pajamas.
– New York Daily News, Nov. 10, 2005
"You look at a General Mills product, and it looks like the bee's knees, but it may be nutritionally flawed," said Michael Jacobson … . "It may be high in sugar even though it has fiber in it."
– International Herald Tribune, Nov 6, 2006
hornet's nest – 1. an angry reaction 2. a troublesome or hazardous situation
– Daniel Silva, The Kill Artist