shank's mare


Definition of shank's mare

: 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.

First Known Use of shank's mare

circa 1795, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shank's mare

Time Traveler for shank's mare

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about shank's mare

Statistics for shank's mare

Cite this Entry

“Shank's mare.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on shank's mare

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shank's mare

Comments on shank's mare

What made you want to look up shank's mare? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


experienced by way of someone else

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!