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

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 very confused situation The law on restrictive trade is a mare's nest that scarcely anyone can comprehend.
See also: nest

Shanks's pony

  (British, American & Australian old-fashioned) also Shank's mare (American old-fashioned)
walking as a method of travel I missed the last bus and had to get home on Shanks's pony.
See also: pony

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
References in classic literature ?
Impudence," said Maria, smiling; {"}but come, fill your mouth with food, and be silent.
This has been Patty's Place ever since my brother Aaron left it to me in his will, and Patty's Place it shall remain until I die and Maria dies.
Miss Patty and Miss Maria are hardly such stuff as dreams are made of," laughed Anne.
In doing this he would satisfy everybody - the grocer, his sister, Ruth, and even Maria, to whom he owed a month's room rent.
After several centuries it came to him, easily, without effort, that it was Maria.
That meant that Maria would not press for payment, and he resolved generously that it would be the only one he would pay; so he began searching through the cast-out heap for hers.
Instead, at two in the morning, Maria, having heard his groans through the thin partition, came into his room, to put hot flat-irons against his body and damp cloths upon his aching eyes.
One would have thought his heart was a piece of ice; yet did he have a streak of warm in his blood, for he followed Maria Valenzuela to Quito.
But he did like Maria Valenzuela, who was of his own country.
But John Harned followed Maria Valenzuela to Quito, and it was quickly clear to us--to Luis Cervallos and me that she looked upon John Harned with great kindness.
Maria Valenzuela clapped her hands with the rest, and John Harned, whose cold heart was not touched by the event, looked at her with curiosity.
You have seen it," said Maria Valenzuela to John Harned, as they fastened the mules to the dead bull and dragged it out.
The alarming intelligence was no sooner communicated by the bony apprentice with the thin legs, than the girls tripped upstairs to Maria Lobbs's bedroom, and the male cousin and Nathaniel Pipkin were thrust into a couple of closets in the sitting-room, for want of any better places of concealment; and when Maria Lobbs and the wicked little cousin had stowed them away, and put the room to rights, they opened the street door to old Lobbs, who had never left off knocking since he first began.
Don't stop him, Maria," said the young man; "if he has the will to strike me, let him.
He soon recovered the effects of his attachment, for we find his name in the parish register, as a witness to the marriage of Maria Lobbs to her cousin; and it also appears, by reference to other documents, that on the night of the wedding he was incarcerated in the village cage, for having, in a state of extreme intoxication, committed sundry excesses in the streets, in all of which he was aided and abetted by the bony apprentice with the thin legs.