"A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing"

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hohodicestu

Senior Member
Mexico - Spanish
Hi everyone,

I'm kind of confused with the meaning of that phrase, can you guys please tell me what does it mean?

thanks :)
 
  • mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Not an actual idiom I've ever run across.

    Toads are nocturnal, and they don't tend to move particularly fast. Nor do they run at all.

    So the idea is that something must have made this toad act so much against his nature; there must be some sort of catalyst.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Toads are generally nocturnal.
    A toad "running" in the daytime must have been disturbed or provoked into action quite contrary to its normal nature.

    I suppose this could mean that if you see something unusual happening, you can be sure that there is some unusual cause for it.

    Edit: Which is pretty much what mga said - and I've never heard it before either:)
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    hohodicestu said:
    It cames from a book called: "Things fall apart"
    That's not enough context as it tells us nothing about how the author was using the sentence.

    I'm another who has never heard it and who's immediate reaction on seeing it was "This must be equivalent to 'there is a reason for everything'.

    Can you give us two or three of the sentences which lead up to this.

    The title of the book comes from a poem by WB Yeats, an Anglo-Irish poet from the turn of the 19th/start of the 20th centuries. Called The Second Coming, it's opening lines are

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all convictions, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    maxiogee said:
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all convictions, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.
    A toad has a rather bumpy and raspy texture-- so are you suggesting that he is the "rough beast" in the poem, and that he isn't running at all, but "slouching toward Bethlehem to be born?"
    .
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I wasn't 'suggesting' anything, I was pointing out the source in case it helped anyone in coming to an understanding of the expression.
     

    Christine-Brinn

    Member
    British English - UK
    hohodicestu said:
    It cames from a book called: "Things fall apart"
    This will probably explain why it is an unfamiliar proverb to us here. As the author is African, perhaps it is a translation of an African proverb.

    In the UK, toads are associated with ugliness and evil. I believe a toad's sweat was part of one of the witches spells in Macbeth.

    Its unfamiliarity to us and its use as a proverb with the meaning this appears to have suggests it is not a proverb from the UK.

    .
     
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