i hear mine older coworkers usage this idiom/phrase occasionally. That seems maybe to be a humorous means to gain out of a conversation. Even as a native civicpride-kusatsu.net speaker, I\"ve never established the exact case you would usage this phrase. It almost sounds prefer it may have actually once to be a punchline come a joke in a movie or something.

You are watching: Seeing a man about a horse

I\"m curious what is the specific meaning/usage that this phrase/idiom? wherein does the originate?


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Wikipedia actually has actually an article dedicated to this phrase. It says:

The earliest shown publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault beat Flying Scud in i beg your pardon a character knowingly breezes previous a complicated situation saying, \"Excuse me Mr. Quail, i can\"t stop; I\"ve got to check out a man about a dog.\" In a listing for a 1939 renewal on the NBC Radio routine America\"s lost Plays, Time magazine observed that the phrase is the play\"s \"claim come fame\".

Wiktionary adds:

The most typical variation is to \"see a man around a horse\". Almost any noun have the right to be substituted as a method of giving the hearer a hint around one\"s function in departing. The inversion to \"see a dog around a man\" eliminates any lingering uncertainty about whether the hearer is being placed off. A much shorter variant is to \"see a man\".

As come the exact case in which you would use this phrase, it suggests:

Used as an excuse because that leaving without providing the actual reason (especially if the factor is to go to the toilet, or to have actually a drink)

Back come Wikipedia again,

During barred in the unified States, the expression was most typically used in relation to the usage or purchase of alcoholic beverages.

World broad Words has additional info:

This has actually been a beneficial (and usefully vague) excuse for absenting oneself from agency for around 150 years, though the genuine reason for slipping away has actually not constantly been the same. <...> From other references at the moment there were three possibilities: 1) essential to visit the loo <...> 2) he remained in urgent need of a restorative drink, presumed alcoholic; or 3) he had a likewise urgent must visit his mistress.

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Of these factors <...> the second became the most typical sense throughout the ban period. Currently that society’s conventions have actually shifted to the point where none of these reasons need reason much remark, the energy of the expression is considerably diminished and it is most regularly used in a facetious sense, if at all.