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See also: shank's mare
- shanks's mare, shank's mare, shanks mare
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.
shanks' mare (countable and uncountable, plural shanks' mares)
- (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.
- 1923, Harris Dickson, “The Proof”, in The Red Book Magazine, volume 41, number 6:
- “Well! Well! Here's Aunt Cannie. Waiting for your car?”
“No suh, Mr. Henry. Shank's mare is plenty good fer me. I been ridin' dis ol' mare for more'n a hund'ed years.”
- 1942. Transit Journal, McGraw Hill, page 173:
- Once they take to Shanks' mare, they are all equal.
- 1869. The Dubuque Daily Herald, Dubuque, Iowa, 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:
- The last thing we'd want to be seen doing...is using shanks mare, even though the day is holding up well.
- shanks' nag, shanks-nag, and variants (Scottish)
- shanks' pony and variants (UK, Australian)
- Shanks' mare, by Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 2002-08-31
- Shanks' mare, Gary Martin, 2007.