shanks' mare

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The expression -- believed to be Scottish in origin -- derives from shanks' nag (shanks-naig 1774), referring to the use of shank to refer to the part of the human leg between the knee and ankle. One theory cites "shank's mare" derived from a horse-drawn lawn mower, manufactured by Shanks & Company Ltd. (founded 1853) which required that the human operator walk behind the device to guide the horse; however, references to the phrase in Scottish literature pre-date the existence of the Shanks lawn mower.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • shanks's mare, shank's mare, shanks mare

Noun[edit]

shanks' mare (plural shanks' mares)

  1. (US, idiomatic) One's own legs used for walking; to "travel by shanks' mare" or "ride on shanks' mare" is to walk to your destination.
    • 1942. Transit Journal, McGraw Hill, page 173[1]:
      Once they take to Shanks' mare, they are all equal
    • 1869. Iowa newspaper, The Dubuque Daily Herald, May 1869:
      A public exhibition of the velocipede [a predecessor of the bicycle] ... will never come into general use in competition with Shank's mare.
    • 2003. John O'Flaherty, Rafferty, p. 77[2]:
      The last thing we'd want to be seen doing...is using shanks mare, even though the day is holding up well.

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]