English Proverbs and Sayings About Animals - Equines (the Horse Family)
Quite a lot of animals have found their way into the English language in the form of proverbs and sayings
We are a nation of animal lovers, and it's quite natural that animals should be represented in our figures of speech.
On this page you will meet horses, donkeys and ponies - they're all here (figuratively speaking, that is).
Make Sure You Match the Right Animal With the Right Phrase, Otherwise it Will Sound Ridiculous
English Expressions About Horses
Proverbs and Sayings About Horses
A One Horse Race - Means an absolute certainty
e.g. "In some countries where corruption and bribery are rife, elections are a one horse race, because all opposition is eliminated and there is only one prospective winner."
Horse Faced - Means an elongated somewhat plain-looking face
e.g."She is horse faced (or has a face like a horse) and is unlikely to win a beauty competition"
As Hungry as a Horse - Means very hungry
e.g. "He didn't have any breakfast and by the afternoon he was as hungry as a horse."
Hold Your Horses - Means wait a minute
e.g. "Hold your horses, don't start arguing until I've finished what I was going to say."
Horseplay - Means rough, high-spirited play
e.g. "After the party some of the students got involved in horseplay, and one of them got knocked into the swimming pool."
To Horse About - Means to fool about
e.g. "Don't horse about - get on with your homework or you won't get good marks."
Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth - Means don't criticize things you get cheaply or for nothing
e.g. "He did some gardening for me for nothing, but forgot to cut the grass - still, I suppose I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."
Horses for Courses - Choosing someone to do a particular job
e.g. "I wouldn't want to be a nurse, but she likes it - it's horses for courses."
Straight From the Horse's Mouth - Hearing from the person concerned directly
e.g. "We heard it straight from the horse's mouth that Britain would be proceeding to Brexit as soon as possible."
Here's an English Metaphor About a Pony (a Small Horse)
Pony Tail - Means a hairstyle where the hair is pulled back and held in a rubber band like a tail
e.g."She wore her hair in a pony tail"
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English Expressions About Mules and Donkeys
Proverbs and Sayings About Donkeys, Mules and Even a Zebra
Doing the donkey work - Means doing the mundane work.
e.g. "The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) will make all the decisions in the office, and the office workers will do the donkey work."
As stubborn as a mule - Means very stubborn - that is, determined not to change one's attitude, even if it would be reasonable to do so.
e.g. "I asked him three times to put out his cigarette, but he refused - he was as stubborn as a mule."
A Zebra Crossing - this means a pedestrian street-crossing marked with broad white stripes, where pedestrians have priority and, by law, motor vehicles must stop to allow them to cross the road (remember the Beatles record cover Abbey Road, with the four of them crossing the road?).
e.g. "Don't jay-walk, use the zebra crossing, as it's a busy road"
Finally, the following expression is one of my Grandmother's sayings:
From a donkey what can you expect but a kick?
When I Googled it, I couldn't find a meaning, which makes me wonder whether in fact it is a translation from some other European language such as Polish or Russian, as my grandmother spoke with an accent. I always assumed it was English, as my she repeated it often enough for it to remain in my mind, but clearly this is not so. Anyway, it's such a good saying that I think you'll like it too, and maybe bring it into the English language by common usage. Can anyone tell us which language this idiom comes from?
From a donkey what can you expect but a kick? - Means people run true to type, so, for instance, don't expect great things from an inappropriate person.
e.g. "If you are mixing with someone of poor character, don't expect they are going to change just for you (if they are dishonest, they will be dishonest with you too) - from a donkey, what can you expect but a kick?"
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