- Education and Science
Farmyard Animals and Fish in English Proverbs and Sayings
Meet Cows, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Crabs and Fish in English Proverbs and Sayings!
There are many English Proverbs and Sayings featuring animals, and it must be very difficult for people learning English as a second language to remember enough of these figures of speech to be able to use them with the ease that English speaking people do.
This web page will be a fun reminder to native English speakers about some of the animals we refer to in figurative speech.
For those who are just learning English, or who speak English as a second language, I am sure that you will find some new English sayings here and you will improve your English.
Proverbs and Sayings About Pigs
(Note to students of English: "oink-oink" is an onomatopoeaic phrase to describe the sound emitted by a pig - but I expect that was pretty obvious!).
To Pig (or to Pig Out) - to gorge oneself with food
He's a pig he's rude, vulgar, dirty or uncultured
A Pigsty - A dirty or untidy place
Live like pigs - live in a dirty or untidy place , uncu ltured
Pig ignorant - - abysmally ignorant or unsocialized
Pig in a Poke - Something which is bought without being seen and turns out to be no good, useless
You Can't Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear - You can't make something excellent unless you start with the right basic material
Casting Pearls Before Swine - Giving good things to people who don't appreciate what they are receiving
A Swine - An unpleasant person
Pig Tails - Hair which has been plaited
To Hog To take or hoard selfishly
To Go the Whole Hog - To do something fully
Hogwash - nonsense
Here's a Silly Piggy Poem Which I Wrote
Oddly enough, the word "Piggy" is used by some people as a term of endearment
By way of explanation for those learning English as a second language, the word "piggy" is quite an affectionate diminutive form of pig, whereas the word "swine" has a pejorative meaning, and if you call someone a swine, this indicates someone horrible, or of bad character.
However, I would grade it as much less insulting than the way that Muslims use the word "pig" - English people might use the words "swine" or "pig" in a joking manner, or as a mild insult, whereas if a Muslim were to call someone a "pig", it would be deeply offensive.
Give me your love
I'll give you mine
And never be a little swine.
Be my Piggy,
Eyes that shine -
My Piggy, yes, but not my swine
© Diana Grant
An interesting Book about English Expressions
This book is brilliant - I've read it.
You'd never think the subject of punctuation and how it affects meaning, could be so entertaining from start to finish
Take this Poll About Rudeness - See how you measure up to other pollsters
How offensive do you think it is to call someone a Pig? And what about a Greedy Pig? Or Piggy - is that rude?. And what about calling them a Swine?
Does the tone of voice or the context affect how the words should be viewed? What if you are laughing when you say it? And what if you are angry or sneering?
Would you call someone a greedy pig if they ate the last piece of cake when they had already had their share?
Proverbs and Sayings About Cattle
A Great Bull of a Man - A huge or strong man
Bullseye - The centre of a target in archery and darts
Like a Bull in a China Shop - Very clumsy and likely to break something
Bullish - someone who wants their own way, headstrong
A Cock and Bull Story An unbelievable story
A Cow - A woman (Derogatory expression)
As strong as an ox - very strong
Image: Jersey Cow - www.ncacaa.org
Proverbs and Sayings about Sheep and Goats
An Old Goat - An old person
To Get his Goat - To irritate someone
Going Like a Lamb to the Slaughter - Going meekly
A Ram - A rampant male
Sheepish - Embarrassed
A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Someone who is not what he seems
You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb - If two crimes or wrong-doings have the same penalty, you might as well commit the more serious one, as you will be punished anyway
To be like sheep - To follow or do what everyone else is doing (i.e. to be one of a crowd), and not stand out
Proverbs and Sayings About Fish
Not strictly farmyard animals, but they have to go somewhere!
A Piranha - Someone who preys on people
As Easy as Shooting Fish in a Barrel - Very easy
Sleeping with the Fishes - Assasinated and thrown in the sea
Set a Spratt to Catch a Mackerel - Use something small and insignificant to lure in the important thing
A Shrimp - Someone small or weak
Crabby - Crochetty or bad-tempered
A Shark - A devious crook (e.g. a loan shark)
A bit of an Octopus - a man who gropes women
Like a Fish out of water - someone who is out of place in his/her current situation
To cling like a Limpet - to hold on to something very tightly (either literally or figuratively)
Don't Put Your Fingers in a Piranha's Mouth
You might be sorry!