Proverbial wisdom


A wolf in a china shop is an interesting expression believed to derive from the French Un loup dans une flûte (a wolf in a champagne glass). It seems to have different meanings in different parts of the English-speaking world. In southern England and mainland Australia it means a man who chats up old women; in Wales and Tasmania it means someone who tries to be clever but creates havoc; in New Zealand it means something incongruous and annoying; and in Scotland it means a rumour with the potential to create serious damage. In America?  Who knows?

Gert is reminded of the well-known Australian expressions A wombat at Versailles (a clownish and incompetent leader) and A bunyip in the ballroom (a bad poet).

But can anyone help us with the meaning of A horse in a helicopter?



35 thoughts on “Proverbial wisdom

  1. Don’t know about Horse in a helicopter, but sounds uncomfortable for all parties. I do like the wolf in a china shop and its various meanings, all suggesting something out-of-place but subtler than a bull in a china shop. A wombat at Versailles, of course, suggests current world affairs — but we shall see.

      1. I’m not finding “wolf in a china shop” on Google, but you must have a source for all those different (and related) meanings. Seems like a great expressions.

        I do like King Kong, and it’s very American/New York — so, yes.

      1. A bull in a china shop is someone who is clumsy and likely to knock things over. A wolf in a china shop seems to fit your description better.

  2. ‘Tis all a storm in a teabag, methinks, adding to the murkiness of the wordbrew. But at least it’s akin to the popular phrases a cynic at a performance of Cage’s 4′ 33″ and “an inspector in a student teacher’s classroom” as an expression of induced chaos or consternation; both were familiar epithets in my past working life.

    1. Interesting folk-sayings, Chris. And am I right in thinking there’s a Welsh saying “A Morgan at the organ” with a similar meaning? Though I don’t know what the Morgans did to deserve that.

      1. Oh yes, the Organ-Morgans of Llareggub whom Dylan Thomas wantonly lampooned: I hear the community has never recovered its composure after that literary onslaught.

  3. Never heard that one before. Some how I can’t think of a more unlikely pairing. Maybe it’s the helicopter that is acting up – being skittish?

                1. It seems extremely luxuriant and unchanging for a woman of 90. I did read that the man who broke into her bedroom saw a whole lot of wigs on stands ranged along her dressing table. But I don’t want to involve you in a situation that could lead to your beheading, so I understand your reticence.

                    1. Your head may be in danger too, for that revolutionary remark. Whiggish, our Brenda?
                      But I am absolutely certain and have it from the horse’s mouth (in or out of helicopter) that Prince Charles wears a wig.

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