The renowned expression I could eat a horse definition that girlfriend are really hungry shows up to it is in from the beforehand 19 th century follow to Google Books. One early consumption example I can find is indigenous 1824:

From: The assorted works the Tobias Smollett by Tobias George Smollett: (1824)

"for i be therefore hoongry, I can eat a equine behind the saddle."

The expression is clearly a hyperbole yet it is not clear why "a horse" has come to be the pet associated with being very hungry, fairly than a cow for instance.

Questions:

What"s the beginning of the above saying?

Was it originally a BrE or an AmE expression?


etymology popular-refrains phrase-origin
re-superstructure
boost this concern
follow
edited Mar 31 "17 in ~ 19:29
request Mar 30 "17 in ~ 0:25
user66974user66974
12
| display 7 an ext comments

2 answer 2


active oldest Votes
3
+100
The earliest instance of this expression the I have actually been may be to uncover is from man Ray, A arsenal of cg-tower.com Proverbs (1678), which has this entry (without additional comment):

He is therefore hungry, he can eat a steed behind the saddle.

You are watching: Im so hungry i could eat a horse

Unfortunately, neither beam nor any type of other writer who cites or supplies the expression offers any explanation the why it concentrates on horses rather 보다 some various other animal.

Tobias Smollett, The Life and Adventures of sir Launcelot Greaves (1760) is just one of the earliest tape-recorded instances of the expression provided in a narrative—in a scene in which teacher Launcelot has yielded a squire indigenous the curative regimen of an it s not enough ability doctor, nurse, and also apothecary, and has inquiry the patient just how he now feels:

"I should feel heart-whole if therefore be as yow would throw the noorse a"ter the bottle , and the "pothecary a"ter the noorse; and also oorder me a lb of chops for my dinner; for I punishment so hoongry, I might eat a equine behind the saddle."

And similarly from Walter Scott, Guy Mannering; or, The Gipsey"s Prophecy (1815):

Gipsey Girl. I"m sure, gentlemen, you"ll forgive us; we are not accustom"d to view the prefer of you; yet if there is any type of thing the you would certainly take—

Dinmont. have the right to there it is in anything we won"t take, my dear? for I have not taken meat or drink this four or five hours, and the cold blast top top the hills has given me together an appetite, that, as the Yorkshire-man says, "I cou"d eat a equine behind the saddle."

But it seems to me that some readers may be misreading the sense of "a equine behind the saddle." The ide I have read in other places on this web page is the "behind the saddle" method "posterior to the saddle," i m sorry is to so speak "toward or at the horse"s buttocks." but I think the is simply as most likely to median "through the saddle."

Horsemeat has, deservedly or not, a reputation for gift stringy and also tough. In countries where steeds are no a meat resource of choice, the negative reputation probably rests of numerous factors: horsemeat has actually a stronger flavor 보다 beef (for example), it is (or was) frequently used in such countries as meat because that dogs, and also because steeds are generally bred together riding or pulling animals and not as resources of meat, your meat often tends to be far leaner and less soft than livestock bred and fattened up because that slaughter.

In a society where horses were far from the wanted meat source, civilization may have eaten them just in straitened circumstances, as soon as no other source of meat was available, such as in significant dearths, through consequent privation for the equine prior to its being eaten, too—and again this would often tend to reinforce the perception that their meat was inherently tough and stringy.

In any case, the fancied (and under some scenarios real) toughness the horsemeat may be the suggest of the expression. A human being who is ravenously hungry might express this fact by asserting not merely that he (or she) is hungry enough to eat a horse, yet that that (or she) is willing to go with the saddle to acquire to it.

cg-tower.com dislike of the idea of eat horsemeat appears to have actually been quite solid in previous centuries. For example, in house George, Memoirs of an Aristocrat and Reminiscences that the Emperor Napoleon (1837), we have actually this remembrance of the eat of a dog plank an cg-tower.com navy ship in 1777:

When we were in new Zealand, Neddy Rhio, one of my messmates had obtained hold that a brand-new Zealand dog, as savage a adversary as the savages from who he obtained it, and this very same dog that intended to lug home to existing to the Marchioness that Townsend, his patroness. Yet one day, while Neddy to be on coast on duty, a court-martial was held on the dog, and it to be agreed nem. Con. that, together the dog to be of cannibal origin, and was totally a cannibal itself, having actually bit every among use, and also shewn every inclination to eat united state alive if the could, that he need to be doomed to death, and eat in his turn, we being quick of new provisions at the time. The sentence was automatically executed, the dog cooked, dressed, and eat, for we could have eat a steed behind the saddle, we were all so confoundedly hungry; ...

It appears odd come justify eat a dog through saying, in effect, "of course us ate it; we were so hungry the we"d have actually been willing to eat a horse." one more instance that anti-horsemeat emotion occurs in "Paris Sport and also Paris Life," in Baily"s newspaper of Sports and also Pastimes (March 1865):

We have actually all heard often enough, specifically on seasons favor the existing one (confound it!), of equines "eating their heads of." fine these experimentalists want to conserve them the trouble, and also propose eat not just the heads, but the legs and body also.

This Hippic Society, which must be called "The Eat-a-horse behind the Saddle firm (Limited)," actually had actually a dinner last week at the grand Hôtel. Nothing but horse was served! The menu, as far as I deserve to remember was together follows:—

Potage a la Reine. Cotelettes de Hock. Saucce aux Eperons. Legs of Screws served in your boots, Potted Favourite—a "good thing" boiled over (This was not much relished.) and lastly, a saddle of equine garnished through girths.

The company agreed that, other than in several of the low-priced Paris restaurants, they had actually never tasted together meat, and also they did not separate till a late hour.

Th "Charivari" <Puck> had a splendid photo of a pair of carriage-horses shying in ~ the entrance to this horse-eating hotel, and a dog, evidently thinking he was being defrauded of his rights, barking at among the guests returning from his horse banquet.

I may be old fashioned, yet I confess I would rather have a saddle that five-year old Welsh mutton—not too much done—and a couple of French beans, 보다 a haunch of one of two people of Mr. Henry Chaplin"s recent purchases.

See more: Can Nail Polish Remover Kill You ? Acetone Is Nail Polish Remover

This source expressly treats horsemeat as effectively being a meat fed to dogs, which again emphasizes its absence of appeal come the (cg-tower.com) writer.