when pigs fly

November 5, 2007

flyingpigs.jpg“When pigs fly” is an idiom meaning wishful thinking or something very unlikely to happen. So if you’re feeling a bit cynical about that bundled package of phone, Internet, and TV services being shoved down your throat by some overzealous, intrusive telemarketer, feel free to unleash that little gem on them.As far as the origin of this delightful, porcine expression, Michael Quinon states on his website “World Wide Words

“We have to go back a long way to find the original of this idea. It seems to have been a traditional Scottish proverb, which was first written down in 1586 in an edition of John Withal’s English-Latin dictionary for children. This had an appendix of proverbs rendered into Latin, of which one was the usual form of the proverb in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: “pigs fly in the air with their tails forward”. If they did indeed fly, the proverb argues, flying backwards would seem a small extra feat.”

There is a veritable pig trough of flying pig references out there, some more famous than others. This is a reference from Lewis Carroll:

“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.”I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.”Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly….” — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, chapter 9.

According to Wikipedia, the author John Steinbeck used a winged pig that he called Pigasus in his signature and his exlibris. His wife Elaine relates his sentiment that “Man must aspire though he be earth-bound”.A flying or floating pig is one of the symbols associated with the rock band Pink Floyd and often appeared at concerts in the form of a large pig balloon.Well, that’s enough information gathering for now. I must hit the sack, since I plan on getting up extra early tomorrow morning…to work out.When pigs fly!