mare

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wooden mare

An ancient torture device involving a wooden horse, typically used for military punishments. I was so terrified of what my parents would do when they found out I'd failed my exam that I had visions of them making me ride the wooden mare.
See also: mare, wooden

mare's nest

A difficult, complicated, or confusing situation. The tax laws in this country are a mare's nest that nobody fully understands.
See also: nest

ride shanks' mare

To walk. "Shanks" refers to one's legs. The store is close enough that we don't need to drive, we can just ride shanks' mare.
See also: mare, ride

by shank's mare

By one's legs and feet, used for walking; traveling by foot. A reference to the shank— the lower leg between the knee and the ankle—and the use of ponies or horses for travel. (Also written as "shanks' mare.") My bicycle fell apart three miles away from home, so I had to go the rest of the way by shank's mare. Unfortunately, with the sedentary lifestyle many lead today, travel by shank's mare has largely become obsolete.
See also: mare

shank's mare

One's legs and feet, used for walking; travel by foot. A reference to the shank— the lower leg between the knee and the ankle—and the use of ponies or horses for travel. (Also seen as "shanks' mare.") My bicycle fell apart three miles away from home, so I had to use shank's mare to go the rest of the way. Unfortunately, with the sedentary lifestyle many lead today, shank's mare has largely become an obsolete mode of travel.
See also: mare

by shank's mare

Fig. by foot; by walking. (Shank refers to the shank of the leg.) My car isn't working, so I'll have to travel by shank's mare. I'm sore because I've been getting around by shank's mare.
See also: mare

shank's mare

Fig. travel on foot. You'll find that shank's mare is the quickest way to get across town. Is there a bus, or do I have to use shank's mare?
See also: mare

a mare's nest

a wonderful discovery which proves or will prove to be illusory.
A mare's nest is here being used to symbolize something that does not exist, as horses do not make nests. The phrase is first recorded in the late 16th century, as is the variant a horse's nest , although the latter is now no longer in use.
See also: nest

a ˈmare’s nest


1 an idea or a discovery that seems interesting and exciting but is found to be false or have no value: I fancy this will prove to be a mare’s nest! We have had these mysteries before.
A mare is a female horse or donkey. They do not make nests and so a mare’s nest does not exist.

2 a difficult or complicated situation; a mess: This area of the law is a veritable mare’s nest.My hair is a mare’s nest!
See also: nest

shank’s mare

n. foot travel. (Old. Lacking a horse, one uses the legs. This does not refer to a person named shank.) You’ll find that shank’s mare is the quickest way to get across town.
See also: mare

the old gray mare

The passage of time. A folk song attributed to Stephen Foster and supposedly referring to a 19th-century harness-racing horse named Lady Suffolk begins, “Oh, the old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be . . . Many long years ago.” Unkind people used the image to refer women “of a certain age” (or older), although when used by themselves about themselves, it has an air of self-deprecating resignation. For example, a middle-aged woman who leaves the dance floor short of breath after a vigorous jitterbug may wipe her brow, reach for a cold drink, and exclaim, “The old gray mare ain't what she used to be.”
See also: gray, mare, old

shank's mare

Walking. “Shank” is another word for shinbone. By extension, its use in the phase refers to our legs. “Mare” here is equine transport, and when we walk, we “ride” on shank's mare.
See also: mare