#Idiom: Pleased as Punch & #Idiom: Horse of a Different Color

It’s been a while since I blogged about an idiom, so I selected “Pleased as Punch” and “Horse of a Different Color” for today. Idioms come and go, usually without notice. Then, one day, you think about one and realize you haven’t heard it said in a long time. It’s probably been replaced by a new one.

“Pleased as Punch”

“Pleased as Punch” is a saying I heard growing up, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard it. It’s probably been decades. I had no idea how it came about. I thought it was just an example of alliteration that caught on as a saying.

I also didn’t know that “Punch” was supposed to be capitalized. Again, I thought it came about only because “Pleased” and “Punch” both started with the same, strong “P” sound. Shows what I knew.

I recently learned that this idiom dates back to the mid-1800s and the character named Punch in the Punch and Judy shows. According to The American Heritage dic-tion-ar-y of Idioms,by Christine Ammer, Punch “is always happy when his evil deeds succeed.” (Images of a smiling Donald J. Trump, Sr. come to mind.)

Now, I know, and so do you. File this tidbit away in case you’re ever a contestant on “Jeopardy” or “The Chase.”

“Horse of a Different Color”

Photo credit: Gene Devine on unsplash.com

This idiom popped into my head last week, and I realized I hadn’t heard it said in quite some time. Curious about its origins, I reached for my trusty reference book, The American Heritage dic-tion-ar-y of Idioms,by Christine Ammer, which I purchased for either fifty cents or a dollar several years ago when the public library was drastically weeding its collection.

The saying, “Horse of a Different Color” or “Horse of Another Color” means, “Another matter entirely, something else,” according to Ms. Ammer’s book.

She goes on to say that, “This term probably derives from a phrase coined by Shakespeare, who wrote, ‘a horse of that color’ (Twelfth Night, 2:3), meaning ‘the same matter’ rather than a different one. By the mid-1800s the term was used to point out difference rather than likeness.”

My conclusion

It seems we don’t hear as many idioms as we used to. Is that a result of the homogenization of American English? Society presses us to drop our regional accents. As a southerner, I’ve felt that, and it makes me sad. I think our regional differences in our speaking make the United States a more interesting place to live. I hate to see us losing those little differences. I hear it in the voices of my great-nieces who live in Georgia. My accent is much more southern than theirs even though they have lived in Georgia their entire lives. It makes me sad.

Since my last blog post

My blog post today is short and light-hearted because I’ve been spending every spare minute (when not reading!) to work on my family genealogy. My sister and I are working on a project that we want to finish this fall. Time is not on our side!

Until my next blog post

I hope you have one or more good books to read and a rewarding and relaxing hobby.

Make time to read and enjoy that hobby. And, by all means, make time to enjoy family and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine and Uvalde, Texas.


23 thoughts on “#Idiom: Pleased as Punch & #Idiom: Horse of a Different Color

  1. Idioms are very interesting and these two I had never heard and I like them, especially the Shakespearean reference of a horse of another colour. And I do fully agree with you, I think that the US without its accents would lose all its flavour. I learned to speak English in Scotland and I came to the US to live in the south, but South Florida is not “the” south, here English is spoken as in the North and only once you go upstate (to the north) do you enter the South. My friends from Louisiana and Georgia all have southern accents which I love to hear, though I cannot understand…
    This was another fine post Janet and I have learned from it. Wish you all the luck with your genealogy project and also with continuing your book. I am now going to have my blog go dark for a few days as I will be on the road very soon and there is still much to do so I reckon I won’t have time for blogging. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that the “horse of a different/another color” is a fun one. I’ve heard it all my life (though not recently) and had no idea its origins came from Shakespeare. I enjoy the study of language and how accents and word meanings evolve. When we visited Scotland, I loved hearing the people talk — except the people in Glasgow seemed to have their own language. I couldn’t understand a word they said! No doubt, they couldn’t understand my North Carolina accent. All the best as your blog goes dark for a wee while as you prepare to travel. Safe travels, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I do enjoy finding out more about idioms and as you say you don’t hear them as much as we used to. My mother loved to quote them but had a slight Mrs Malapropism tendency so they often came out with an interesting twist lol. As you say very helpful to know them for Jeopardy or The Chase. Thanks Janet.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Sally. I honored that such an accomplished and successful blogger as yourself would take time to read my little blog. That’s funny about your mother. That reminds me of one of my cousins. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the idiom “I didn’t just get off the turnip truck,” but my cousin would always say, “I didn’t just get off the turnip boat.” LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh my! Thank you, Sally! My mother misspoke once as we were leaving a Charlotte Hornets basketball game. She was a big fan of basketball and loved her Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets lost the game that night. As we were leaving, she meant to say, “They made too many loose ball fouls.” Instead, she said, “They made too many loose bowel fouls.” We’re still laughing about that blunder 30+ years later. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m sorry to hear that about the Vermont accent. Accents make our lives richer. I don’t want everyone to sound alike. Thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a comment!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a lovely post – I am always interested in the origin of idioms and had no idea about the origin of Pleased as Punch. I love that the Germans have a single word for it (pleasure at others’ misfortunes) – schadenfreude. The Germans are brilliant at coining single words to encompass a whole concept!

    In the UK, one of my favourite programmes on BBC Radio 4 is Word of Mouth, which investigates the origin of words and phrases. It’s one of my favourite programmes (and Radio 4 has many wonderful programmes!). I’m not sure but you might be able to get it on the internet on the BBC Sounds app. Here’s the link if you’re interested! https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/b006qtnz

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much! That’s interesting about schadenfreude in German. Too bad we don’t have a comparable word in English. Thank you for the link and info about BBC Radio 4 Word of the Mouth. It sounds like something I’d enjoy. I’ll see if I can get it. I appreciate your reading my blog post and taking the time to leave such a nice comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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