mad as a wet hen

November 1, 2007


A month or so ago, I thought it would be a super cool idea to do a children’s book, illustrating animal idioms, like “The Bee’s Knees”, “When Pigs Fly”, “Happy as a Clam”, etc.

Well, as it turns out, it’s been done. At least a half dozen times. Maybe a million. Not sure. But a lot.

Whatever. It’s a cool idea.

So I scrawled out a very angry wet hen at lunch. Might not be the most original idea, but it was fun illustrating such a fowl mood. Get it? Fowl mood….(sigh).

Afterwards, I searched around online and found there were quite a few ideas on the origin of the phrase “mad as a wet hen”. One of the more interesting explanations was from a woman, who grew up on a farm in the south, who explains that after a hen lays her eggs, she’s all about sitting on them until they hatch. Even if you gather up all her eggs, she will still sit on the empty nest. So in order to “break her” and get her laying more eggs, the farmer would lift her off the nest and dunk her in water. She’d then go right back to her nest, so it had to be done two or three times, after which she’d be mad as hell and start “fussing and scrambling about”. But apparently this “broke her” and she’d start laying eggs again.

Truth be told, that story made me a feel bad for the poor hen. I was under the impression that the saying was more about chickens not having much of a sense of humor when they get squirted with prank corsages.

At any rate, I think I might do some more of these idiom drawings. Stay tuned.


5 Responses to “mad as a wet hen”

  1. mame Says:


  2. sketched out Says:

    There is a bit of a Longhorn Leghorn vibe, although she’s a hen. Maybe it’s his long suffering wife?

  3. sketched out Says:

    I mean Foghorn Leghorn, sheesh.

  4. Brian Bell Says:

    Back in the 70’s, I knew a 70 year old Black man who was from the south. He used this saying quite frequently and told me it was something his grandmother used to say, so I would guess it has to be a very old southern saying.

  5. Love your illustration.
    Just today, I decided “mad as a wet hen” has to do with them being daft and silly in the rain… a bit nuts, like a wet hen.

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