Shank's mare

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jan 17 16:30:03 UTC 2008

The Wikipedia article refers to Michael Quinion (2002-08-31). Shank's
mare. World Wide Words.  But not much more there, except to remind us
(me?) that there is "shank v. =
1. dial.  a. intr. To walk, to travel on foot; also with const. away.
Often to shank it.
    a1774 Fergusson Poems, King's Birthday 83 If baudrins slip but to
the door,+I fear, She'll no lang shank upon all four This time o'year. ...


At 1/17/2008 11:21 AM, Damien Hall wrote:
>When I first saw this phrase in some American source (not that long ago), I
>thought it was the result of some ungrammatical person misplacing an
>apostrophe, since the only version of the phrase that I had ever heard up to
>then was "Shanks' pony", pronounced /SaeNksIz/ (ie a pony belonging to someone
>called Shanks).  I find from
>that the version with the pony is commoner only in the UK and Australia, and
>that there is some debate about whether the first word is "shank's", "Shank's"
>or "Shanks'".  All the versions are discussed in the article above, but they
>seem to favour "shank's" as the original, being a reference to the shank, now
>more commonly known as the shin-bone or tibia.  The identity of the animal -
>mare, pony or nag, as in the earliest citation they give - is also variable.
>There's also a Wikipedia article, which I haven't looked at.
>FWIW, ghits for the two 'main' versions - that is, the one with which I was
>familiar and the one most widespread in the US - are about equal:
>shank's mare    11,800
>shanks' pony    11,600
>shank's pony     5,990
>shanks' mare     5,490
>shank's nag        101
>shanks' nag         50
>but all these numbers seem pretty low to me.
>Damien Hall
>University of Pennsylvania
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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