“I have to shit like a racehorse!”

Immediately following the publication of the April issue of my friend Elizabeth’s newsletter on writing and language issues, which deals with eggcorns this month, I ran across this Ask Metafilter thread on misused expressions. It’s full of plenty of the usual enjoyable complaining about the death of the English language.1 But what I particularly liked was this example:

Oh, you know what’s fun? When people mix up expressions having picked up on the wrong contextual cue.

“Wow, that rose is so red. It’s, like, pitch red.”

This sort of thing is just fun to do on purpose.2 The “pitch red” example reminded me of a guy I knew in university who was fond of the expression “gay as the ace of spades.”3 I’ve been borrowing that one for years, confusing many listeners in the process. “No, no,” I’ll explain after they try to set me straight. “It’s ‘black as a three-dollar bill.”4

1. Speaking of complaining, Candace tells me of an aunt who returned from travels abroad, tossing around foreign slang, only to mistakenly use the word “minge” when she meant “whinge.”
2. See the example in the title of this post, which I used this morning, with some urgency, but also with the satisfaction that I’d stumbled on a catchphrase I’d be abusing for years to come.
3. If Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford ever covered the Motörhead song “Ace of Spades,” I could point to this as backup.
4. Before it was withdrawn from circulation, the now-defunct Canadian three-dollar bill was actually pink.

6 Responses to ““I have to shit like a racehorse!””

  1. 1 Cameron


    I’ve just returned from Turkey, where apparently they have something against this blog. It’s blocked, with the following explanation:

    “Bu siteye erişim mahkeme kararıyla engellenmiştir.

    T.C. Fatih 2.Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi 2007/195 Nolu Kararı gereği bu siteye erişim engellenmiştir.

    Access to this site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/195 of T.C. Fatih 2.Civil Court of First Instance. “

  2. 2 Eric

    “Give me 4 threes for a dozen”, we used to say, back when there was ALSO the periwinkle $12 bill. Anyone else remember that?

  3. 3 Eric

    Anyone also hear about the new currency they’re coming up with? It’s going to be child actors destined to become bad actors when they reach adulthood. They’re planning to nickname it the “Goonie”.

  4. 4 Matt

    I’ve said this before, but I think a fun thing to do if Dracula happened to come up in conversation would be to pretend you’ve never heard of him. Just let the person who brought him up go through the motions of trying to describe him – “You know, he’s a vampire, he sucks blood, he turns into a bat…” – before finally going “Oh, you mean Blacula.”

  5. 5 JET

    Swedish F1 commentator Eje Elgh on Satruday, talking about someone who is not willing to give up: “I don’t think he’s about to throw in the axe”.

    Trust me, it makes just as much sense in English as in Swedish. We also have “throw in the towel” and I’m guessing there’s some sort of colloquialism about “hangin up one’s axe” which I have never heard.

    But I’m definitely using that for a while.

  6. 6 Matt

    Earlier today, I blurted out “Man, it’s colder than a witch’s ass in here.”

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