shank's mare

noun

: one's own legs
traveling by shank's mare

Did you know?

A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse! Many travelers in centuries past would have agreed with King Richard's famous lines from Shakespeare's Richard III - when you needed to travel any distance in the days before automobiles, you definitely wanted a horse. When one wasn't available, you had to rely on your built-in transportation equipment, your feet and legs. The word shank has been used to mean "the lower leg" since before the 12th century, and "shank's mare" first appeared in writing in the late 1700s. Another vivid expression connecting people and horses was "horse with ten toes," but that one is now relegated to history.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1795, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shank's mare was circa 1795

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Cite this Entry

“Shank's mare.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shank%27s%20mare. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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