A number of English pig idioms exist in no small part due to their colorful characters. As a result, these expressions are as varied as the creatures themselves but if you pay close attention you will be able to mind your p(ig)s and q’s!
As fat as a pig – fat, obese, or otherwise overweight
- Henry VIII was as fat as a pig but had six wives in his lifetime – it’s cleary very good to be the king!
To (be like) cast(ing) pearls before swine – the squander or otherwise waste resources on an unappreciative person
* Going the extra mile for Jamie would be like casting pearls before swine – he won’t notice, much less appreciate it.
Note: This expression is variously rendered as a verb or a comparison (as above).
To go hog-wild – to behave in a savage or uncivilized way
- Spring Break is a time when many college students go hog-wild while on vacation.
To go whole hog – to do everything possibility or to indulge in every luxury
- We need secure this contract so we plan to go whole hog in our proposal.
- Since this is our only vacation this year we plan to go whole hog and try everything!
Note: The second definition has a meaning similar to another hog idiom: to live high on the hog. Both invoke the idea of extravagant indulgence.
In a pig`s eye – never
- You want me to apologize for something I didn’t do? In a pig’s eye!
Note: The small size of a pig’s eye explains both the origin of this idiom and its meaning.
Piggy bank – a small container that (primarily) children use to hold money
- My daughter heard that I needed to buy a new car so she brought me her piggy bank. It couldn’t have had more than a few dollars but it was absolutely adorable!
Note: Not all vessels that hold money are piggy banks; the stereotypical form is made of clay and shaped like its namesake.
(To Ride) piggyback– to be transported on someone’s back and shoulders.
- When I was a little boy there was nothing I liked more than riding piggyback on my father`s shoulders.
If you haven’t had enough of our idioms series you can always find more on our dedicated idioms homepage.