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hide nor hair
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Picture of ceast
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I have a young friend who encountered this very famliar (to me) saying, and was baffled by it. I've always heard it in the context of "I haven't seen hide nor hair of him in months." Anybody know an origin? Not as in "who said it?" but more like, how did it come to be? Or am I in the wrong department?
 
Posts: 84 | Location: Mobile, Ala | Registered: 10-27-03Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of doon1946
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Just Local Sayings @ Newfoundland dialect.

http://www.k12.nf.ca/laval/Commun2001/localsayings.html



------------------------------------------------------------
"As the mind expands the heart grows."
 
Posts: 4232 | Location: Land of Lincoln, USA | Registered: 01-29-03Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of ceast
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Many thanks for searching that one out for me. For what it's worth, I also asked a friend who writes a newspaper column on usage and such, who came up with these answers:


This is the answer according to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. "neither hide nor hair.  Meaning "absolutely nothing," this phrase probably came from the language of huntsmen.  A hunter reporting a fruitless day might well report that he had seen neither hide nor hair of any game, referring to such smooth-hided beasts as bison or moose and to
any of the much more common hair-coated beasts."

 

NEITHER HIDE NOR HAIR – “This sounds like such a typically western American expression that it is surprising to find that, though American, it is merely the reverse of one so old that it might have been known to Chaucer. The ancient saying was ‘in hide and hair,’ and the meaning was ‘wholly, entirely.’ The American phrase means ‘nothing whatsoever.’ Our first record of it occurs in one of the early works of Josiah G. Holland, ‘The Bay Path,’
published in 1857: ‘I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the piece ever since.’
Holland, it may be recalled, wrote under the pen name Timothy Titcomb and, in 1870, founded ‘Scribner’s Magazine.’” From “A Hog on Ice” (1948, Harper &
Row) by Charles Earle Funk.

All very logical...
 
Posts: 84 | Location: Mobile, Ala | Registered: 10-27-03Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hide nor Hair, as in "I have'nt seen hide nor hair of her" is a well used expression here, in England.
 
Posts: 27 | Registered: 06-28-04Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of Zendam
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The earliest I found was:

This Howlat hidowis of hair and hyde~Sir Richard Holland, The Buke of the Howlat (c.1460).

I haven't seen hide nor hair of the piece~J.G. Holland, The Bay-Path, ch. 25 (1857).

Interesting that both have last names of "Holland" and are hundreds of years apart.

* * *
Friends, books, a cheerful heart, and conscience clear
Are the most choice companions we have here.~William Mather
 
Posts: 19084 | Location: CT | Registered: 08-30-00Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Many thanks... Whoever first said it, apparently we who speak English have been saying it for a looong time. Btw, I was surprised that when a question arose about "murder most foul" I did a search and came up empty. As I soon discovered, though, it is, of course, the ghost of Hamlet's father enlightening his son about what has happened. But isn't it odd that it didn't show up in a search?
 
Posts: 84 | Location: Mobile, Ala | Registered: 10-27-03Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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