Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday Trivia: "Sick as a Dog"

The earliest record we have of this saying dates back to 1705.

Word Detective tells us something interesting that we hadn't considered. When we think of "sick as a dog" we need to keep in mind what that meant back in 18th century Europe.

Back then, to "be sick" didn't mean to feel unwell, it referred to tummy troubles. Specifically the kind where you vomit.

photo: Creative Commons 3.0


And since dogs historically have a bit of a reputation in this department (well, they will eat almost anything, we've heard...!) the reference kinda makes sense.

As the phrase moved through the centuries, sometimes other animals were dragged into the mix, including cats, rats and even horses. (Which is interesting, actually, since we learned horses cannot vomit!)

Though the weirdest version goes - paws down - to the one Jonathan Swift used in his book Polite Conversations, written in 1738: "Poor Miss, she's sick as a cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing."

Um...huh? Or, as one of the peeps our mom works with says, "Whatevs!"

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sources: All Experts, Word Detective and Worldwide Words

 

19 comments:

  1. Sick as a cushion!!!! LOL! Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  2. How on earth does a cushion get sick? Hmmmm.

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  3. Some of those expressions have been around forever and you wonder how they got started. Now we know where "Sick as a dog" came from.

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  4. What could a cushion possibly eat that would make it sick? HOW could a cushion eat? MOL!

    Thanks for such an interesting post, dear pals.

    Hugs to you all!

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  5. MOL cushion.. Probably ate too much stuffing.. xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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  6. Pe-ess Or was stuffed to the brim, so was sick..Mol xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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  7. Very interesting. We didn't know the origin of the phrase; however; Mom says that it should be "Sick as a cat." 'cause the dogs the humans used to have never threw up as much as we do. We like the cute doggy picture. Purrs and hugs from the kitties at www.thecatonmyhead.com, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

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    1. MOL - Ryker was MASTER of that. mommy used to say he would Feng (err, FANG) Shui them, he had so many - up to 9 a day! He had IBD.

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  8. Sick as a cushion? That's funny! Our mum says sick as a pig.

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  9. This was me on Monday and Tuesday...I was definitely "sick as a cushion" and stuffing would have been a welcome event...Fun post!

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    1. Oh my CAT, Giz! Are you better? That is NOT good. Not good at all!!

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  10. Sick as a cushion!! That is not good!

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  11. Very interesting. I have always used sick in the eighteenth century meaning.

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  12. Well that's interesting!! I've had the odd cushion that has looked quite sick when its been sat on too long!! We usually say "sick as a dog" when we've had too much to drink and are kissing the lino! ;)

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  13. Sick as a cushion??? That guy clearly needs medical help. ; )
    And I've NEVER heard "sick as a cat."

    I say let's just stick with dogs on this.
    ; ) Katie

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Coolio! A comment? For US?