[Ads-l] Horse creature

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Nov 6 19:58:05 UTC 2014

To try to provide a serious supposition, in contrast to most of the 
others (just teasing, folks) --

A:  Various animals --

Michael's "horse creature" brings a faint trace of recollection of 
seeing a similar usage in 18th or 17th-century works: "creature of 
the X kind".

Generalizing, I googled books, 1650--1800, for "creature of the * 
kind".  That produced for the asterisk:  hog, weasel, oppossum, goat, 
panther, cat, serpent -- and "a Living Creature, of the Rational Or 
Brute Kind".  (ECCO and EEBO also might be useful.)

Here "of the X kind" is not a redundancy, but a phrase indicating the 
class of animals for which X is one example (one "kind").  Perhaps 
that phrase became shortened to "X creature", e.g. in advertisements.

Leading to B:  Specific to horses --

The earliest advertisement in an American newspaper for a horse race 
(1715) reads:

At Cambridge on Wednesday the 21st day of September next, will be Run 
for, a Twenty Pound Plate, by any Horse, Mare or Gelding not 
exceeding Fourteen and an half hands high, carrying 11 Stone Weight, 
and any Person or Persons shall be welcome to Run his Horse &c. 
entering the same with Mr. Pattoun at the Green Dragon in Boston ... 
paying Twenty Shillings Entrance.

So "horse creature" may be a sex differentiator, to distinguish 
horses from mares and geldings.  While "creature" does seem 
redundant, perhaps it was conditioned by the "creature of the X kind" phrasing.


At 11/6/2014 08:49 AM, Michael Quinion wrote:
>An intriguing question has arrived at World Wide Words from a genealogist
>who has found examples of the term "horse creature" in old American court
>records and newspapers. She asked why the redundancy?
>I've found numerous examples of the term, often in sale announcements, and
>also of "horse beast", which was used in the US and also in the UK (the
>first example in the OED is dated 1573). DARE has "horse beast" and also
>"horse critter" but not "horse creature". There are 16th-century British
>references to "rother beast", where a rother was an ox or bullock, but no
>other farm animal seems to have one of these words added to its name.
>Can anyone suggest to my reader why a farmer or auctioneer might refer
>specifically to a "horse creature" or "horse beast"? I'm at a total loss!
>Michael Quinion
>World Wide Words
>Web: http://www.worldwidewords.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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