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: by, 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

old gray mare

old-fashioned Something or someone that is aged, obsolete, or outdated. An allusion to the folk song "Old Gray Mare," especially its opening line: "The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be." It's (rare) modern use is usually somewhat derogatory. It may not have fancy apps or let me surf the Internet, but this old gray mare is still the only phone I need. I may be an old gray mare, but I still know how to get up and cut a rug on the dance floor.
See also: gray, mare, old

the old gray mare ain't what she used to be

old-fashioned Something or someone is aged, obsolete, or outdated. The phrase comes from the opening line of the folk song "Old Gray Mare." Its (rare) modern use is usually somewhat derogatory. Man, that's a terrible sound coming from my car. I guess the old gray mare ain't what she used to be. A: "What happened, Mom? You used to be a great dancer." B: "Well, the old gray mare ain't what she used to be!"
See also: gray, mare, old, she, used, what

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: by, 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

shank's mare

On foot, walking. This quaint expression dates from the second half of the eighteenth century, the shank here alluding to the leg. Also put as to ride shank’s mare, it continues to be used, although it may be heard less often. The Cleveland Plain Dealer had it (Oct. 26, 1974): “The people who came to the Barons-Rangers game that night long ago came by streetcar and bus and by shank’s mare as well as by auto.”
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 ?
The pedlar drove a smart little mare, and was a young man of excellent character, keen at a bargain, but none the worse liked by the Yankees; who, as I have heard them say, would rather be shaved with a sharp razor than a dull one.
After an early breakfast at Morristown, the tobacco pedlar, whose name was Dominicus Pike, had travelled seven miles through a solitary piece of woods, without speaking a word to anybody but himself and his little gray mare. It being nearly seven o'clock, he was as eager to hold a morning gossip as a city shopkeeper to read the morning paper.
But I heard nothing--not a thing but the mare's bellow and my own heart.
"Did the mare carry you all the way back to Melbourne?"
With this he gave the mare over to Antilochus's comrade Noemon, and then took the cauldron.
Tears of anger fell from his eyes as he saw the mares going on faster than ever, while his own horses lost ground through his having no whip.
The Prince promised never to betray her confidence, and the mare continued: 'Ask nothing else as a reward than my foal, for it has not its like in the world, and is not to be bought for love or money; for it can go from one end of the earth to another in a few minutes.
Iwanich longed to possess such an animal, and promised the mare to follow her advice.
Two lads in the crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to beat her about the ribs.
He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes!
With this, the mare pulled alongside and began gradually to pass the girl.
The mare fought bravely, but hopelessly, and presently sank to the earth, her heart pierced.
There would be no difficulty, of course, in finding a substitute for Captain Chalmers, but the race takes place this morning, and I am afraid, with all due respect to my daughter, that her mare hasn't the best of reputations."
But you thought a heap of that mare, and it's pretty hard on you to lose her.
At an estancia near Las Vacas large numbers of mares are weekly slaughtered for the sake of their hides, although worth only five paper dollars, or about half a crown apiece.