choke a horse

Discussion in 'English Only' started by deny80, May 13, 2009.

  1. deny80 Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian - Italy
    Hi. This is taken from a sales book, after explaining how to make good cold calls.

    "You're now armed with enough cold calling knowledge to choke a horse. Don't let it get to your throat."

    Can you paraphrase the joke? I really can't relate the red expressions with cold calling... :confused:
     
  2. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    The first part, enough...to choke a horse, is just an emphatic way of saying that you have a lot of knowledge. The image is clear: it takes a lot of power for a human to choke a horse... and that's how much knowledge you have in making cold calls.

    The second part is a little weird. We have the expression Don't let it get (go) to your head, which can mean don't get too proud of something (don't get a big ego/head). But I don't know what Don't let it get to your throat is supposed to mean here.
     
  3. out2lnch Senior Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    English-Canada
    Interesting. I always envisaged the sheer quantity of knowledge, etc. being responsible for the horse choking.
     
  4. out2lnch Senior Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    English-Canada
    It's a bit of a stretch and not funny (is it really supposed to be?), but maybe the second part is a play on choking and hoarse rather than horse and the throat of the cold caller (you don't want to be choked or hoarse when you cold call)?
     
  5. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    In the sense that you basically choke the horse by outwitting him/using your smarts, as opposed to physical force?

    I always thought of it as a mixed metaphor, kind of like sharp as a tack. In other words, it doesn't make much logical sense, but the idea is clear.

    edit: Actually, I forget the name of it, but I think it's one of those kinds of formulaic expressions that can be molded to whatever the speaker wants: enough <noun> to choke a horse / <verb/adj/adverb> enough to choke a horse., where the blank can be anything.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  6. out2lnch Senior Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    English-Canada
    I agree with the edit: the image is that there is so much of <noun> that a horse would choke on it. I'm not sure how much hay, carrots or whatever is required to choke a horse, but the presumption is a lot. At least for the purposes of the metaphor.
     
  7. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Eh.... I don't know if I would try to draw out a logical image like that. I think it's just a fixed formula. For example, you could say: The record-breaking athlete ran fast enough to choke a horse! Obviously this has nothing to do with running so fast that a horse gets choked or anything.

    Or: Carol is obsessed with stuffed animals. She has enough to choke a horse. I don't necessarily think this is supposed to call to mind the image of a horse choking on a bunch of stuffed animals.

    But maybe it's a personal feeling/regionalism/etc.
     
  8. out2lnch Senior Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    English-Canada
    Maybe someone else will chime in, but I've never heard it applied to a situation like the athlete example you gave. I've only ever heard it used for something that is a quantifiable in some way (including knowledge, stuffed animals etc.)
     
  9. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    It is apparently a common assumption that horses have large throats. I have seen very large medicinal tablets or pills referred to as "horse pills" -- that is, something intended for a horse to swallow it, because it is too big for comfortable human swallowing. Something that is really big is too big even for that, and so is large enough to choke a horse.
     
  10. deny80 Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian - Italy
    Thank you all. I found this last insight enlightening.
    Maybe it refers to a "knowledge pill", large enough to choke a horse, but which must be used carefully, otherwise it can "get to your throat".

    What do you think?
     
  11. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    That may be the derivation of the expression, but I don't think many people imagine that when they hear or use the expression. (At least I don't...)
     
  12. strabo Junior Member

    English
    I must say I have only ever heard this expression referring to something physically large - "he got out a wad of cash big enough to choke a horse" etc
     

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