The famous expression I might eat a steed interpretation that you are exceptionally hungry shows up to be from the beforehand 19 th century according to Google Books. One early usage instance I could uncover is from 1824:

From: The assorted functions of Topredisposition Smollett by Topredisposition George Smollett: (1824)

"for I be so hoongry, I could eat a horse behind the saddle."

The expression is plainly a hyperbole but it is not clear why "a horse" has become the animal linked via being exceptionally hungry, rather than a cow for circumstances.


What"s the beginning of the over saying?

Was it originally a BrE or an AmE expression?

etymology popular-refrains phrase-beginning
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The earliest circumstances of this expression that I have actually been able to discover is from John Ray, A Collection of Proverbs (1678), which has this enattempt (without better comment):

He is so hungry, he might eat a steed behind the saddle.

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Unfortunately, neither Ray nor any other author who cites or provides the expression offers any explanation of why it focuses on steeds fairly than some various other animal.

Topredisposition Smollett, The Life and Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves (1760) is among the earliest videotaped instances of the expression used in a narrative—in a scene in which Sir Launcelot has ceded a squire from the curative regiguys of an incompetent physician, nurse, and apothecary, and has asked the patient just how he currently feels:

"I have to feel heart-whole if so be as yow would throw the noorse a"ter the bottle , and also the "pothecary a"ter the noorse; and also oorder me a pound of chops for my dinner; for I bee so hoongry, I could eat a horse behind the saddle."

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

Gipsey Girl. I"m sure, gentlemen, you"ll excuse us; we are not accustom"d to check out the favor of you; however if tbelow is any thing that you would certainly take—

Dinmont. Can tright here be anything we won"t take, my dear? For I have actually not taken meat or drink this four or five hrs, and the cold blast on the hills has given me such an appetite, that, as the Yorkshire-man states, "I cou"d eat a horse behind the saddle."

But it appears to me that some readers may be misreading the sense of "a horse behind the saddle." The idea I have read somewhere else on this page is the "behind the saddle" suggests "posterior to the saddle," which is to so say "toward or at the horse"s buttocks." But I think it is simply as most likely to expect "through the saddle."

Horsemeat has, deservedly or not, a reputation for being stringy and also hard. In countries wbelow steeds are not a meat resource of alternative, the negative reputation more than likely rests of several factors: horsemeat has actually a stronger flavor than beef (for example), it is (or was) frequently offered in such nations as meat for dogs, and also bereason equines are mainly bred as riding or pulling pets and also not as resources of meat, their meat tends to be much leaner and also less tender than livestock bred and fattened up for slaughter.

In a culture wbelow steeds were far from the wanted meat source, civilization might have eaten them just in straitened scenarios, as soon as no other source of meat was available, such as in serious dearths, with consequent privation for the horse prior to its being consumed, too—and aacquire this would certainly tend to reinforce the perception that their meat was naturally hard and also stringy.

In any case, the fancied (and under some scenarios real) toughness of horsemeat might be the suggest of the expression. A perchild who is ravenously hungry may expush this truth by asserting not merely that he (or she) is hungry sufficient to eat a steed, but that he (or she) is willing to go with the saddle to gain to it. disprefer of the idea of eating horsemeat seems to have been fairly strong in past centuries. For instance, in Home George, Memoirs of an Aristocrat and Reminiscences of the Emperor Napoleon (1837), we have this remembrance of the eating of a dog aboard an navy ship in 1777:

When we were in New Zealand, Neddy Rhio, among my messmates had acquired organize of a New Zealand dog, as savage a adversary as the savperiods from whom he obtained it, and this same dog he intended to bring house to current to the Marchioness of Townsfinish, his patroness. But sooner or later, while Neddy was on shore on duty, a court-martial was organized on the dog, and it was agreed nem. con. that, as the dog was of cannibal beginning, and was entirely a cannibal itself, having actually little bit eextremely among usage, and shewn every inclination to eat us alive if it might, that he need to be doomed to death, and also eat in his rotate, we being short of fresh provisions at the time. The sentence was automatically executed, the dog cooked, dressed, and also eat, for we can have eat a steed behind the saddle, we were all so confoundedly hungry; ...

It seems odd to justify eating a dog by saying, in impact, "of course we ate it; we were so hungry that we"d have actually been willing to eat a steed." Anvarious other circumstances of anti-horsemeat sentiment occurs in "Paris Sport and also Paris Life," in Baily"s Magazine of Sports and Pastimes (March 1865):

We have actually all heard often sufficient, especially on periods prefer the present one (confound it!), of equines "eating their heads of." Well these experimentalists want to conserve them the trouble, and also propose eating not just the heads, however the legs and also body likewise.

This Hippic Society, which must be dubbed "The Eat-a-steed behind the Saddle Company kind of (Limited)," actually had actually a dinner last week at the Grand Hôtel. Nothing however equine was served! The food selection, as far as I deserve to remember was as follows:—

Potage a la Reine. Cotelettes de Hock. Saucce aux Eperons. Legs of Screws offered in their boots, Potted Favourite—a "great thing" boiled over (This was not much relimelted.) And lastly, a saddle of equine garnimelted via girths.

The firm agreed that, except in some of the low-priced Paris restaurants, they had never before tasted such meat, and also they did not sepaprice till a late hour.

Th "Charivari" <Puck> had actually a splendid image of a pair of carriage-horses shying at the entrance to this horse-eating hotel, and a dog, evidently reasoning he was being defrauded of his civil liberties, barking at one of the guests returning from his equine banquet.

I might be old fashioned, yet I confess I would certainly quite have a saddle of five-year old Welsh mutton—not as well a lot done—and also a few French beans, than a haunch of either of Mr. Henry Chaplin"s current purchases.

See more: What Do You Mean I Hurt Your Feelings In English, Definition Of Hurt Someone'S Feelings

This resource specifically treats horsemeat as appropriately being a meat fed to dogs, which again emphasizes its absence of appeal to the ( writer.