Idiom: living high on the hog; eating too high up on the hog (antedating 1919 November 28)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 5 16:11:29 UTC 2011

The poor are a caution, aren't they? It's a good thing that there were
no refrigerators for them to hoard, back in those days! Otherwise,
there would have been no need to wait another dekkid for the crash!

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
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> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Idiom: living high on the hog; eating too high up on the hog
> Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â (antedating 1919 November 28)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At a dinner party last night I was asked about the expression "living
> high on the hog." The OED has this phrase listed under the entry for
> hog with a first citation dated 1940:
> hog, n.1,
> Phrases 8. orig. and chiefly U.S. to live (also eat) high off (also
> on) the hog : to live in an extravagant or luxurious style. Hence: to
> live (also eat) low off (also on) the hog (and variants).
> The Phrase Finder website has a page on this topic with valuable
> information. The earliest citation is a New York Times article dated
> March 4, 1920. The phrase in the newspaper differs slightly from the
> one given in the OED:
> Southern laborers who are "eating too high up on the hog" (pork chops
> and ham) and American housewives who "eat too far back on the beef"
> (porterhouse and round steak) are to blame for the continued high cost
> of living, the American Institute of Meat Packers announced today.
> Here is an excerpt from citation in 1919. The article is labeled "From
> the Chicago News," so an earlier cite probably exists. The article
> consists of a "joke" in "dialect" with a framing commentary:
> Cite: November 28, 1919, Kansas City Star, One Cause for the H. C. L.:
> We Eat "Too Far up on the Hog," District Attorney in Chicago Says
> [Comment: H. C. L. may mean High Cost of Living], Page 13, Missouri.
> (GenealogyBank)
> "What is the reason for high prices on everything?" United States
> District Attorney Charles F. Clyne was asked the other day. His answer
> was enigmatic.
> 'There was a negro woman down South whose husband was rather no
> account," he said.
> [Comment: The woman leaves the husband. At a later time she meets him.
> He offers her "pickled pigs' feet," but she rejects them because she
> says that these days she is eating "furder up on de hog."]
> "We're eating too high up on the hog," Mr. Clyne concluded.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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