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Feel one's oats
Perhaps a not so pleasing praise
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2013/02/23
5:20am
Robert
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A Newsweek article describes the President in good fighting spirits as ‘feeling his oats.’   No matter how well-worn the idiom, it seems pretty back-handed to figure the President, or anyone, as a horse, no? Somehow it’s not quite flattering as ‘strong as a horse’ or good-naturedly teasing as ‘proud as a peacock,’ etc., perhaps because the reference to food makes it sound a little too realistic, as opposed to symbolic. No?

2013/02/23
8:04am
Dick
Fort Worth, TX
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I eat oatmeal or Cheerios nearly every day and I certainly feel them a few hours later.

2013/02/23
6:04pm
tromboniator
Alaska
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Robert, I don’t see it as back-handed; perhaps a bit more informal than might be expected in referring to the President, but I don’t think it’s pejorative at all.

2013/02/23
10:12pm
Robert
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Ok. Some foreigners will wince when that’s explained to them for the 1st time.

2013/02/24
2:58am
Raffee
Iran
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Robert said
Ok. Some foreigners will wince when that’s explained to them for the 1st time.

Yes. This could be the problem with some of your (or any language’s) idioms. Like, I think, you use ‘bark’ for people, too. I’ve encountered it so once or twice.

Was my use of ‘so’ in the last sentence correct? I meant, “I’ve encountered it used in this way”. Or maybe better to say, “I’ve encountered it used so”, ha?

2013/02/24
4:57am
tromboniator
Alaska
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Raffee, I would say that both of your constructions using so are correct. I prefer the first one, but I don’t think it’s “better.”

2013/05/10
7:01am
AnMa
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Robert said it seems pretty back-handed to figure the President, or anyone, as a horse, no?

I can’t tell whether this is joking, but I always thought that the “oats” in this idiom was a metaphor for “newly acquired manhood” (as a youth in the flower of puberty) and literally was meant to refer to the testicles.

2013/08/10
10:00am
cougar2shoes
Mountains of northern New Mexico
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AnMa said
I can’t tell whether this is joking, but I always thought that the “oats” in this idiom was a metaphor for “newly acquired manhood” (as a youth in the flower of puberty) and literally was meant to refer to the testicles.

I am a horse person.  Performance horses and race horses are often fed high protein food that is not part of a natural horse diet.  Horses in the wild eat grass of various kinds and may ingest seed heads, but they don’t get a bucket of concentrated oats.  Horses fed a high protein diet will often be more exuberant and therefore said to be, “feeling their oats.”

 

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