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idioms based on comparisons to animals Options
AlyonaSunlight
Posted: Friday, February 7, 2020 5:47:47 PM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Hello!

I have several questions concerning the following idioms:

1. Are the following mean the same?

(as) busy as a bee, (as) busy as a beaver, an eager beaver

Can we say that the first two also mean to be hardworking and not only busy?


2. Are all these variations used?

(as) hungry as a horse, (as) hungry as a wolf, (as) hungry as a bear
(as) strong as an ox / (as) strong as a lion / (as) strong as a horse
(as) cunning as a fox / (as) sly as a fox


3. Can “as” be used before “happy as a lark” – as happy as a lark? Or is it a set phrase?


4. Can you say just “as nervous as a cat”? Or is it always “as nervous as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs”?


5. Does “(as) graceful as a gazelle” exist?


I know it’s a lot to ask... but, please, answer at least some of these questions.
Thank you VERY much in advance!

hedy mmm
Posted: Friday, February 7, 2020 6:40:13 PM

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AlyonaSunlight wrote & hedy mmm responded in red:
Hello!
I have several questions concerning the following idioms:
I’ll try to answer them all!

1. Are the following mean the same?
(as) busy as a bee, (as) busy as a beaver, an eager beaver
Can we say that the first two also mean to be hardworking and not only busy?
Yes, they mean the same for “busy”, however, you would not say an eager bee!

2. Are all these variations used?
(as) hungry as a horse, (as) hungry as a wolf, (as) hungry as a bear
(as) strong as an ox / (as) strong as a lion / (as) strong as a horse
(as) cunning as a fox / (as) sly as a fox
Yes, all the variations are used correctly.

3. Can “as” be used before “happy as a lark” – as happy as a lark? Or is it a set phrase?
No, you would say, “she’s happy as a lark”...a set phrase.

4. Can you say just “as nervous as a cat”? Or is it always “as nervous as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs”?
You can, but it doesn’t have the same punch!
One of my favorite idioms...In referring to an individual who is difficult you say “She’s a trip”.
In my neck of the woods we say “She’s a trip...without the luggage”.


5. Does “(as) graceful as a gazelle” exist?
I’m not familiar with this idiom, maybe someone will..then we’ll both know!

I know it’s a lot to ask... but, please, answer at least some of these questions.
Thank you VERY much in advance!
[i]Never apologize when you want to learn! I enjoy teaching & learning...one is never too old to learn!


...you’re welcome, hedy mmm

tautophile
Posted: Friday, February 7, 2020 9:22:49 PM
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(1) Both bees and beavers are proverbially busy. In particular, the beaver is hard-working (note the hyphen). (So are bees, but they're not usually described as such--just busy.) Beavers are sometimes called eager; not sure why.

(2) All those descriptions are normal and used correctly.

(3) I don't agree with Hedy: "She's as happy as a lark" is quite normal. The well-known song "I've Got Sixpence" (traditional) has the line "I'm as happy as a lark, believe me, / As we go rolling, rolling home...", though it's often sung "I'm happy as a lark" without the "as".

(4) I have a bobtail cat that, in contrast to a long-tailed cat, would not be nervous in a roomful of rocking chairs...but, to answer the question, "nervous as a cat" stands by itself.

(5) "Graceful as a gazelle" is a good comparison.
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, February 8, 2020 10:31:31 AM

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I have also heard and used, "as happy as a lark" and "as graceful as a gazelle". All the others are familiar, too.
AlyonaSunlight
Posted: Saturday, February 8, 2020 4:29:57 PM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
hedy mmm, tautophile, and FounDit, thank you very much!!)))


Though I have got one more question))

"as sick as a parrot" - I know it means "to be disappointed and unhappy". Can "sick" mean "disappointed" in any other context apart from this idiom?

Because all the rest idioms are clear and easy to understand - they are literal.

"as sick as a dog" is obvious (though the choice of the animal is unclear to me)! It exactly means to be sick! Why has it suddenly become "disappointed"?
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, February 8, 2020 10:07:37 PM

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I've never heard "sick as a parrot", but I think the reason for "sick as a dog" was chosen because humans and dogs have been companions for so long, it became common to see them when they were sick.
hedy mmm
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 12:33:50 AM

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FounDit wrote:

I've never heard "sick as a parrot", but I think the reason for "sick as a dog" was chosen because humans and dogs have been companions for so long, it became common to see them when they were sick.

————
Me neither FounDit, we had parrots for pets, I don’t remember them getting sick...

Hey you guys, I’m adding my 2¢..., I have a funny one...

“She eats like a bird”...say this to one of us learned girls and we’re liable to sock you in the nose...you see, a bird actually eats twice its weight...hahaha!

have a great weekend!

hedy mmm
Dancing
AlyonaSunlight
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 3:55:40 AM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Thank you very much again!

I guess this idiom is not widespread!))
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 7:47:37 AM

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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
AlyonaSunlight wrote:
Thank you very much again!

I guess this idiom is not widespread!))


It’s very commonly used in British English, particularly in football for some reason.Whistle

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/sep/08/one-direction-louis-tomlinson-gabriel-agbonlahor
“ Louis Tomlinson sick as a parrot after Gabriel Agbonlahor challenge”

From 1975.
“ Such a choker for Lou
Manchester United ace Lou Macari said sadly after last night’s defeat at Norwich: “It’s not sour grapes, but I can’t help feeling that Norwich must be the luckiest ever to get to Wembley.
“The goal that won it for them was just like the two they snatched at Old Trafford. The referee gave a corner when it should have been a goal kick, therefore Colin Suggett should never have had the chance to score.”
United boss Tommy Docherty said: “I’m as sick as a parrot. It was ours for the taking and we had the chances after they’d scored.”
AlyonaSunlight
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 8:04:16 AM

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Thank you, Sarrriesfan)))

That's very interesting to know!)
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 9:14:46 AM

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Hi!
Well I know them all except "hungry as a bear" - I guess that's because we don't have bears around here. However, the meaning is clear.

The "grammatically correct" form for all of them includes the "as . . . as . . ." form (this is a standard form for a simile) - but most will be heard without the first "as" sometimes.

I thought "sick as a parrot" was a modern slang idiom, but I dug back, and back, and back . . .

Here are some theories.
To be as sick as a parrot is to be very disappointed or unhappy. It is generally used by sports fans to express their disappointment about their team. It is thought to have first been said by Liverpool footballer Phil Thompson. It originated from the deadly viral parrot disease, which was passed on to humans and killed many people in Africa in 1973.

TO AVOID United States quarantine and livestock importing restrictions, people smuggling parrots from South America into the US dope the birds on tequila as they near the Mexican border. Careful timing of the binge will ensure that the birds are sleeping it off through the border crossing formalities and will not greet the officials with a mouthful of verbals as is the breed's wont. Having thus avoided detection, the downside for the exotic loudmouths is coming to with the mother and father of a hangover. This queasiness manifests itself in the origin of the expression.
F. L. O'Toole, London SW19. 2011

In 1909, the Tottenham Hotspur team toured Uruguay and Paraguay. On the voyage back home they were gifted the ship's parrot by the captain of the vessel. The parrot lived happily at the club for 11 years until it keeled over and died in 1919 on the very day Spurs were relegated from Division 1 and Arsenal promoted in their place.
John, London UK


However, this one is the best - and includes evidence.
The phrase was originated by the dramatist Aphra Behn in her 1682 comedy, The False Count, in which the maid Jacinta says of her mistress Julia (Iii1), "Lord, Madam, you are as melancholy as a sick Parrot." The simile is particularly apt as Julia is herself a bright and beautiful creature deprived of her liberty by a jealously oppressive husband. It is for this reason that the phrase is used to expresses a feeling of disappointment rather than one of nausea.
Joss Pinches, Huelva, Spain
AlyonaSunlight
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 1:26:05 PM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Drag0nspeaker, wooow!! Such extensive research!! Thanks a lot!!)))
tautophile
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 8:22:26 PM
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I had never heard of "as sick as a parrot" either, and am glad to learn about the origin and history of the expression. I'm not likely to use it, though, if only because, in my experience, parrots are pretty healthy birds.
Romany
Posted: Monday, February 10, 2020 7:07:55 AM
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Drago -

I was so thrilled to see Aphra Behn mentioned and credited with the phrase - even though I personally would not give her full credit for the saying. It does appear in private writings and journals during the early Modern era so I tend to think it was quite a common saying - it was still being used during The Regency 200 years later.

(Now my dream is to hear Margaret Cavendish mentioned in a general context!!)

Here's a couple of common Australian similes which you may find funny:

"He's" as useless as lips on a parrot"."
"She's "as mad as a cut snake."
"He went off "like a frog in a sock" when we caught him!"
"Since she started that new job she's "as flash as a rat with a gold tooth."
"They were sitting alone on the great expanse of deserted beach "like a shag on a rock."

There#s heaps of sayings involving animals - but the one which usually strikes non-Oz-speakers the most is "Well I didn't come here to feck spiders, mate!"
NKM
Posted: Monday, February 10, 2020 3:21:31 PM

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Those idioms about "busy" bes and beavers (and "hungry as a horse") are popular because of alliteration.

"Eager beaver" has none of that, but it rhymes rather nicely.

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2020 8:04:01 PM

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I'm glad you liked it Romany - however, bad news . . .

The parrot is no longer sick.

Sarrriesfan
Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 12:36:08 AM

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Joined: 3/30/2016
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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
I'm glad you liked it Romany - however, bad news . . .

The parrot is no longer sick.



It’s not dead it’s just pining for the fjords.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 6:59:58 AM
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Ah no, Sarries - his metabolic processes are now history! He's shuffled off his mortal coil, joined the bleeding choir invisible!!

THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
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