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Related to donkey: zebra
In an exceptionally long period of time. The phrase likely originated as the rhyming slang, shortened to simply "donkeys," of "donkey's ears" —where "ears" rhymes with "years" and alludes to the length of a donkey's ears. I haven't seen Jim in donkeys! How's he doing these days?
See also: donkey
An exceptionally long period of time. The phrase likely originated as rhyming slang, where "ears" rhymes with "years" and alludes to the length of a donkey's ears. Throughout time, it became more popularized as "donkey's years." I haven't seen Jim in donkey's ears! How's he doing these days? It's been donkey's ears since we last got together like this.
See also: ear
the straw that breaks the donkey's back
A seemingly small or inconsequential issue, problem, or burden that proves to be the final catalyst in causing an overworked or overburdened person, system, organization, etc., to fail, give up, or collapse. (A less common variant of "the straw that breaks the camel's back.") I'm already fed up with your lazy, selfish behavior, Jim, but if you can't be bothered to come with me to my own mother's funeral, that will be the straw that breaks the donkey's back! With governmental resources already strained to the breaking point, any sort of environmental disaster would be the straw that breaks the donkey's back.
the straw that broke the donkey's back
A seemingly small or inconsequential issue, problem, or burden that proves to be the final catalyst in causing an overworked or overburdened person, system, organization, etc., to fail, give up, or collapse. (A less common variant of "the straw that broke the camel's back.") I was already fed up with my husband's lazy, selfish ways, but it was his refusal to get off the couch and come with me to my mother's funeral that was the straw that broke the donkey's back! With governmental resources already strained to the breaking point, any sort of environmental disaster would likely be the straw that broke the donkey's back.
suck donkey balls
vulgar slang To be remarkably bad, unpleasant, disappointing, or upsetting. Well, that movie sucked donkey balls. I wish I could get my money back! Yeah, I heard that class sucks donkey balls, so I'm taking an Intro to Chemistry course instead.
can talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey
Is very (perhaps overly) talkative. Don't start a conversation with Stu if you want to leave on time tonight—that guy can talk the hind leg off a donkey.
Difficult and tedious work. Oh, don't worry, we can get our interns to do this donkey work for us.
A long time. I haven't been here in donkey's years—I can't believe how much the town has changed.
do the donkey work
To do difficult and tedious work. Primarily heard in UK. Oh, don't worry, we can get our interns to do the donkey work for us.
for donkey's years
For a long time. I haven't been here for donkey's years—I can't believe how much the town has changed.
talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey
To talk endlessly and exhaustingly. I love my Aunt Lily, but she'd talk the hind legs off a donkey if you let her!
1. A mattress filled with straw. This term was commonly used by sailors. There's nothing I can sleep on—not even a donkey's breakfast?
2. A straw hat. Hand me my donkey's breakfast, will you? It's awfully sunny out today.
See also: breakfast
A long time, as in I haven't seen her in donkey's years. This expression punningly alludes to the considerable length of the animal's ears. [Early 1900s]
talk someone's arm off
Also, talk someone's ear or head or pants off ; talk a blue streak; talk until one is blue in the face; talk the bark off a tree or the hind leg off a donkey or horse . Talk so much as to exhaust the listener, as in Whenever I run into her she talks my arm off, or Louise was so excited that she talked a blue streak, or You can talk the bark off a tree but you still won't convince me. The first four expressions imply that one is so bored by a person's loquacity that one's arm (or ear or head or pants) fall off; they date from the first half of the 1900s (also see pants off). The term like a blue streak alone simply means "very quickly," but in this idiom, first recorded in 1914, it means "continuously." The obvious hyperboles implying talk that takes the bark off a tree, first recorded in 1831, or the hind leg off a horse, from 1808, are heard less often today. Also see under blue in the face.
donkey's yearsBRITISH, INFORMAL
If something lasts or has been happening for donkey's years, it lasts or has been happening for a very long time. I've been a vegetarian for donkey's years. He owns some old iron mines that haven't been used in donkey's years. Note: This expression was originally `as long as donkey's ears', which are very long. The change to `donkey's years' may have come about partly because the expression is used to talk about time, and partly because the original form is difficult to say clearly.
do the donkey workBRITISH
If you do the donkey work, you do the most physically tiring or boring parts of a job or piece of work. The bottom lot were the mechanics who did the sheer physical donkey work. We've been very fortunate getting a succession of secretaries who've managed to do the donkey work.
talk the hind leg off a donkeyBRITISH
If you say that someone could talk the hind leg off a donkey, you mean that they talk a lot. You won't be short of conversation with Adrian. He could talk the hind leg off a donkey.
donkey workthe boring or laborious part of a job; drudgery.
2005 The Register I get the Systems guys to do all the donkey work once I'm sure it's up and running properly.
for donkey's yearsfor a very long time. informal
For donkey's years is a pun referring to the length of a donkey's ears and playing on a former pronunciation of years as ears .
1998 Ardal O'Hanlon The Talk of the Town He'll be no loss, that's for sure. Sure his own family haven't spoken to him for donkey's years.
talk the hind leg off a donkeytalk incessantly. British informal
In 1808 talking a horse's hind leg off was described as an ‘old vulgar hyperbole’ in Cobbett's Weekly Political Register , but the version with donkey was current by the mid 19th century. In 1879 Anthony Trollope mentioned talk the hind legs off a dog as an Australian variant.
1970 Nina Bawden The Birds on the Trees Talk, talk—talk the hind leg off a donkey, that one.
the ˈdonkey work(informal) the hard, boring parts of a job: Why is it always me who has to do the donkey work?
ˈdonkey’s years(British English, informal) a very long time: She’s lived in that house for donkey’s years.This is a play on words between ‘years’ and ‘ears’, the joke being that donkeys have long ears.
talk the hind leg(s) off a ˈdonkey(informal, humorous) (usually used with can or could) talk for a long time: He would make a good politician — he could talk the hind legs off a donkey!
n. something made of straw: a straw hat, a straw mattress, etc. The tourist was wearing a red dress and had a donkey’s breakfast on her head.
See also: breakfast
n. a long time. (From British colloquial.) I haven’t seen you in donkey’s years.
A long time. The origin here is disputed. Some say it is a rhyming term for donkey’s ears, which are quite long, and possibly also a punning allusion to the Cockney pronunciation of “years” as “ears”; others believe it alludes to donkeys being quite long-lived. The expression dates only from the late nineteenth century. Edward Lucas used it in The Vermilion Box (1916): “Now for my first bath for what the men call ‘donkey’s years,’ meaning years and years.”