shanks' pony

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Believed to be of Scottish origin, from shanks' nag (shanks-naig, attested 1774).


shanks' pony (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic, UK, Australia, New Zealand) One's feet or legs, regarded as a means of transport.
    • 1930, G. E. O. Knight, Intimate Glimpses of Mysterious Tibet and Neighbouring Countries, published 1992, page 56:
      [] pointed out that we cared nothing, absolutely nothing, for convention, and would go in quest of the gods “on Shanks′ pony,” Anqui utterly mistook our meaning and had a pony in waiting for us when the hour came for leaving! This we dismissed after attempting to make clear our meaning.
    • 1989, Charles Hyatt, When Me Was a Boy, Institute of Jamaica Publications, page 43,
      After all, mos′ everybody had to walk because yuh doan only get to meet people but ‘shanks pony’ was the cheapes′ form of transportation.
    • 1993, John Marsden, Tomorrow, When the War Began, page 18:
      That was the end of the vehicle track: from then on it was shanks′s pony.
    • 1994, Jackie French, Somewhere around the Corner, HarperCollins Australia, published 2010, unnumbered page:
      Young Jim shook his head. ‘The nearest station′s about fifty miles from there. We′ll hail a lift if we′re lucky. Otherwise it′s shanks′s pony.’
    • 1999, Richard Thompson, Walking the Long Miles Home, (Mock Tudor),
      And the rhythm in my shoes keeps the blues all away / When you ride Shanks's Pony you don′t have to pay
    • 2004, David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, London: Hodder and Stoughton, →ISBN:
      He pointed toward a groaning tram packed with malnourished workmen, rickets, and penury. Preferred shank’s pony, drizzle or no drizzle.
    • 2007, John Forbat, Entrepreneurship: The Seeds of Success, UK: Harriman House, page 60:
      Then four more meetings around Manhattan travelling mostly by Shanks′s pony, before arriving back at JFK for their overnight standby flight.
    • 2009, David Else, England, Lonely Planet, page 723:
      Apart from the Ravenglass steam railway and Shanks′ pony, there′s no public transport to Eskdale.
    • 2012, Kass Fleisher, Dead Woman Hollow, State University of New York Press, page 10:
      At the bottom of the hill, Dean Stewart says, let′s get out of the automobiles and proceed as usual—by shanks′ pony.
      By shanks′ pony? Mrs. Landes says.
      Is that Shakespeare? Jenny asks.
      No, Dean Stewart says laughing, just an expression from the folk in Missoula.

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