Most of what we are exposed to on the internet in today’s society is driven by popularity. Everyone follows a set routine when they first get online at the start of the day: checking e-mail, browsing some of our preferred websites, updating friends on our lives via social media etc., but despite what you may think, the order in which we choose to seek out information online after this point is largely predetermined. No matter the website, we are more likely to click on information that is featured on the homepage before executing our own searches for information. This is also present on social media in the form of trending lists or hashtags. Each respective list is trying to vie for viewer attention and send the message that these are the most important topics or stories of the day. If you’ve ever felt duped by one of these stories, you can relate to our latest idiom: “pig and whistle.”

Idiom: Pig and Whistle

Definition: Not many Americans have even heard the phrase “pig and whistle”. This is a UK centric phrase and is a common name for British pubs. Conversely, in Scotland, a variation of the phrase, “pigs and whistles” is used to describe being ruined in terms of financial or social status. In Canada, the phrase is the name of a popular band. Depending on the speaker’s intent, the idiom can be used in sentences such as in the following:

Examples: “I really don’t get why my friends keep on recommending this bar. I can’t see anything special, just another pig and whistle.”

idiom: pig and whistle  “She used to dress so chic, but ever since her father filed for bankruptcy she seemed to lose all her fashion sense. Poor lady, gone to pigs and whistles.”

Origin: The origin of the British version of “pig and whistle” is unknown, but it has been shrouded in speculation for years. The most popular explanation is derived from pub scenes in old England dramas. Rowdy, drunk men wore tights and buxom women who worked at the pub wore revealing outfits. Men showed their “appreciation” for the ladies by whistling.

As for the Scottish version of the idiom, its origin dates back to 1794 when the phrase was used in the poem Har’st Rig.


Accent Pros idioms series

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