whales on stilts/a whale on stilts

Hillary Brown hillaryhazelbrown at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 5 20:37:25 UTC 2009

I've been trying to locate the origin of this phrase, which appears in a
poem in the most recent issue of the New Yorker (titled "Alien vs. Predator"
and readable here:

There was also a children's/YA book a few years ago by M.T. Anderson titled
_Whales on Stilts_ (

Google and Lexis-Nexis turn up a few other instances, but no luck with an
origin yet. Clearly, it's meant to signify something unwieldy and fairly
ridiculous, but who came up with it?


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

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