Skip to main content

English Proverbs and Sayings About Animals - the Horse Family(Equines)

I love the English language, it's so expressive and colourful, with its nuances of meaning, metaphors, puns, proverbs, and regional slang

Quite A Lot Of Animals Have Found Their Way Into The English Language In The Form Of Proverbs And Sayings

We are a nation of animal lovers, and it's quite natural that animals should be represented in our figures of speech.

On this page you will meet horses, donkeys and ponies - they're all here (figuratively speaking, that is).

English Expressions About Horses

A Horse Statue in the British Museum

A Horse Statue in the British Museum

Proverbs And Sayings About Horses

1. A One Horse Race - Means an absolute certainty

e.g. "In some countries where corruption and bribery are rife, elections are a one horse race, because all opposition is eliminated and there is only one prospective winner."

2. Horse Faced - Means an elongated somewhat plain-looking face

e.g."She is horse faced (or has a face like a horse) and is unlikely to win a beauty competition"

3. As Hungry as a Horse - Means very hungry

e.g. "He didn't have any breakfast and by the afternoon he was as hungry as a horse."

4. Hold Your Horses - Means wait a minute

e.g. "Hold your horses, don't start arguing until I've finished what I was going to say."

5. Horseplay - Means rough, high-spirited play

e.g. "After the party some of the students got involved in horseplay, and one of them got knocked into the swimming pool."

6. To Horse About - Means to fool about

e.g. "Don't horse about - get on with your homework or you won't get good marks."

7. Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth - Means don't criticize things you get cheaply or for nothing

Scroll to Continue

e.g. "He did some gardening for me for nothing, but forgot to cut the grass - still, I suppose I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."

8. Horses for Courses - Choosing someone to do a particular job

e.g. "I wouldn't want to be a nurse, but she likes it - it's horses for courses."

9. Straight From the Horse's Mouth - Hearing from the person concerned directly

e.g. "We heard it straight from the horse's mouth that Britain would be proceeding to Brexit as soon as possible."

Here's An English Metaphor About A Pony (A Small Horse)

Girl With a Pony Tail

Girl With a Pony Tail

Pony Tail - Means a hairstyle where the hair is pulled back and held in a rubber band like a tail

e.g."She wore her hair in a pony tail"

English Expressions About Mules And Donkeys

Donkey Rides at a Local London Fair

Donkey Rides at a Local London Fair

Proverbs And Sayings About Donkeys, Mules And Even A Zebra

1. Doing the donkey work - Means doing the mundane work.

e.g. "The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) will make all the decisions in the office, and the office workers will do the donkey work."

2. As stubborn as a mule - Means very stubborn - that is, determined not to change one's attitude, even if it would be reasonable to do so.

e.g. "I asked him three times to put out his cigarette, but he refused - he was as stubborn as a mule."

3. A Zebra Crossing - this means a pedestrian street-crossing marked with broad white stripes, where pedestrians have priority and, by law, motor vehicles must stop to allow them to cross the road (remember the Beatles record cover Abbey Road, with the four of them crossing the road?).

e.g. "Don't jay-walk, use the zebra crossing, as it's a busy road"

A Zebra Crossing

Finally,The Following Expression Is One of My Grandmother's Favorite Sayings:

From a donkey what can you expect but a kick?

When I Googled it, I couldn't find a meaning, which makes me wonder whether in fact it is a translation from some other European language such as Polish or Russian, as my grandmother spoke with an accent. I always assumed it was English, as she repeated it often enough for it to remain in my mind, but clearly this is not so.

Anyway, it's such a good saying that I think you'll like it too, and maybe bring it into the English language by common usage. Can anyone tell us which language this idiom comes from?

From a donkey what can you expect but a kick? - Means people run true to type, so, for instance, don't expect great things from an inappropriate person.

e.g. "If you are mixing with someone of poor character, don't expect they are going to change just for you (if they are dishonest, they will be dishonest with you too) - from a donkey, what can you expect but a kick?"

Read This Humorous Book About Punctuation And Language : Eats Shoots And Leaves

A Video About Horsey Expressions

Try This Poll About Your Command Of The English Language

© 2010 Diana Grant

Do Leave A Comment--Can You Think Of More Proverbs Or Sayings About Animals?

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 13, 2016:

That means you have good skills in English!

amgad.r on March 04, 2016:

thanks. i could do the project easily

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on December 31, 2014:

Who would have thought it? Happy New Year, Paul

Paul from Liverpool, England on December 30, 2014:

Blind as a bat

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on February 17, 2014:

@GrammieOlivia: Better than being catty or ratty!

GrammieOlivia on February 16, 2014:

Love the animal definitions, I'm a bit batty though!

JeffGilbert on February 25, 2013:

Yes, it's always interesting how animals become iconic representational models. Great lens!!

anonymous on February 22, 2013:

Hi, I see you grew up in Africa. I too grew up in Africa, on a gold-mine in the bush in Tanganyika/Tanzania. My book about those years, 'Speak Swahili, Dammit!' has struck a very positive chord with people who lived in East Africa, & has wonderful reviews - press as well as reader-reviews on Amazon in the UK, the USA & Germany. I'd love to hear from you, & you can contact me on facebook, or on my email at Regards & best wishes, JAMES PENHALIGON

suepogson on February 17, 2013:

Nice lens - love the expressions and its good to know where they came from .

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on February 13, 2013:

@OhMe: That's the main reason for doing it!

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on February 12, 2013:

I didn't do too well on the quiz but enjoyed it anyway.

julieannbrady on March 25, 2012:

Ah, that is a funny one that I've heard and said over my lifetime. Hey, hold your horses!!!!

Thrinsdream on February 22, 2012:

Get that muddy dog out of our room . . . well it's a saying in our house! Also my daughter asks of me if I am down "why the long face aardvark" which always make me giggle. Great lens that made me smile. With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on December 15, 2011:

I did terrible on the quiz! Thanks for your lens, it is always good to learn something new:-)

jimmyworldstar on December 02, 2011:

Great quotes! I like how a lot of them are formed on the traits of animals. Although I'll still never understand the one about the chicken and the road.

JoyfulReviewer on November 25, 2011:

Cool lens idea ... nicely done!

Jerrad28 on May 23, 2011:

Very cool!

awakeningwellness on May 11, 2011:

What a fun collection of proverbs, there are even a few I haven't heard before. :)

jolou on May 11, 2011:

I love pets too. It's surprising how many sayings there are that include animals.

akumar46 lm on May 11, 2011:

Nice collections of proverbs and sayings based on animals.

anonymous on May 11, 2011:

This was a lot of fun, you must have had a very interesting life with all those animals around you!

Jhangora LM on May 11, 2011:

WoW! I wasn't aware mules can reproduce!

anonymous on October 30, 2010:

I'll try to fit as many as I can into conversations the next few days and see if anyone notices that I'm doing it. Fun lens and great quiz!

irenemaria from Sweden on October 02, 2010:

Thank you for the animal lesson! I learn as long as I live!

Delia on October 02, 2010:

Hello Diana, yes from a Squidoo Greeter! what an interesting lens...thanks for sharing! I'm glad you didn't include "healthy as a Horse" that is not a true statement, horses get sick very easily.

Mona from Iowa on October 02, 2010:

Being a critter person this was fun to go through. :)

Related Articles