Random Note for WOTY: #19

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 27 19:39:28 UTC 2013

On Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 2:36 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 2:18 PM, Mullins, Bill CIV (US) wrote:
>> bull strong
> I think the phrase "horse-high, bull-strong and pig-tight", referring to
> wire fences, goes back to the 19th century.

DARE has:

1859 Harper’s New Mth. Mag. 19.712, A Buncombe fence, Sir, is a fence
that is bull strong, horse high, and pig tight!

Futher cites from Barry Popik:


I'd be more convinced of continuity with current "strong" forms if
"bull strong" here meant "strong as a bull" rather than "strong enough
to restrain a bull." But who knows -- maybe the creators of the "Army
Strong" slogan (more relevant than "LiveStrong," I think) were
influenced by "bull strong." I also hear an echo of tough-guy truck
advertising: "(built) Ford tough" (from 1976) and "Ram tough" (from



Ben Zimmer

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

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