poor as a church mouse

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page as described here.

Adjective[edit]

(as) poor as a church mouse

  1. (simile) Very poor to a point of starving or begging. Expression based the earlier phrase, "hungry as a church mouse", derived from the fact that European church buildings in the 17th century and earlier did not store or provide food, and so a mouse in one was therefore utterly destitute.
    • 2009, September 23, Mark Gould, Former heroin addict inspires growing optimism from the wild side, The Guardian,
      I'm poor as a church mouse, but I wake up a happy man.
    • 1932, April 9, Isidor Schneider, Hard Luck Of Poets, The New York Times,
      "As poor as a poet" would be quite as comprehensible as "as poor as a church mouse."
    • 2008, John Beatty, The Citizen-Soldier, page 17
      She was an Eastern Virginia woman, and, although poor as a church mouse, thought herself superior to West Virginia people.
    • 1844, a Mouse (sic), Le Peuple Souriquois: An Historical Sketch, in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist, vol. 71, pt. 2, page 428
      But to return to our public functions; that we have had a decided turn for the church appears from the fact that the church-mouse is a recognised order amongst us, and it is our just pride that we alone have preserved the genuine character of the institution as founded by the Apostles, inasmuch as our poverty has passed into a proverb— "as poor as a church-mouse."

Translations[edit]