Tuesday, January 05, 2010

As....as a ....

I commented to a conspecific the other day that I felt as happy as a lark, to which he replied "What's a lark?" "It's a bird," said I. "Is it especially happy?" asked he. "It is supposed to be the epitome of happiness, but I don't know why."

It comes to me that I frequently use expressions of this sort without any idea as to whether they are in any wise apt. "Drunk as a lord" comes to mind. Are peers of the realm more apt to be drunk than other ranks? I have no experience to guide me.

"Naked as a jaybird" is another. Why a jay? Jays are no more naked than other birds, so why are they singled out as the standard of nakedness?

Other expressions make sense. "Dumb as a rock" is pretty dumb inasmuch as rocks are inanimate objects. I have also heard "hammer" used. I suppose that it would be fun to mix up the objects from time to time, as in "he's as dumb as a stapler" or a "spatula". Inanimate objects, particularly "doornails", also stand in for deadness. Would "dead as a rock" and "dumb as a doornail" work? They don't sound right for some reason.

"Hills" are evidently quite old, but I reckon there are older things, eg the moon, and things that are old enough to make a point without being as old as the hills, eg redwood trees. If the hills are old, the valleys are equally so.

"Pictures" are said to be pretty, but I reckon it depends on what is being pictured and the skill of the artist.

"Birds" are free. So are other wild animals. Why not "free as a squirrel"?

"Houses" are big. So are other buildings. So are tractor trailers.

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