donkey's years

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Alternative forms[edit]


1876 or earlier. Possibly chosen because donkeys can be long-lived animals.[1] Despite the similarity, pre-dates and likely not directly related to donkey's ears, a less frequently used rhyming slang term for years.[1]


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donkey's years pl (plural only)

  1. (British, Ireland, Australia, idiomatic) A long time, years and years.
    • 1876, The Salisbury Times:[1]
      Didn't you ask him how long it had been in his possession?
      I can't recollect that. I might have done so.
      Didn't he say for years and years and donkey's years?
    • 1923, The Bridgeport Telegram:
      With a heavy make-up, you’ll be the cutest vamp I’ve seen in donkey’s years.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gary Martin (1997–) “Donkey's years”, in The Phrase Finder, retrieved 21 August 2023.