boiling fowl

girl from rio de janeiro

Banned
Portuguese (Brazilian)
I found this idiomatic expression "pigs might fly" or also "boiling fowl might fly". What does boiling fowl mean? I know that fowl means poultry, so does this expression mean "very hot poultry"? Thank you.
 
  • Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    No, it means stewing chicken which are older and less tender and only suitable for boiling rather than frying or roasting. I´ve never heard the expression used with chickens myself.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Where did you find that expression? It's unknown to this AE speaker. Is it from a very old text?

    My belief that this is not "an idiomatic expression" is confirmed by web search results from Google:
    No results found for "boiling fowl might fly".
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    A boiling fowl is a bird such as a turkey or chicken which is essentially flightless to begin with, due to breeding and rearing, etc. Finally, as it particularly refers to such a bird that is slaughtered and dressed for cooking, flight becomes absolutely impossible. Obviously, the saying requires that the subject, pig, boiling fowl, typewriter—whatever you like, cannot possibly fly.

    I've never heard this expression, and to me, it sounds as if someone just made it up. I don't see any evidence of it being a set expression.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In Alice in Wonderland, the following exchange takes place:

    “I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply... “Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly.”

    "Pigs might fly" has become an archetypal unlikely event, used by discouraging people as a sarcastic rejoinder when someone full of hope says something like 'But he might in the end turn into a reasonable person.'

    The saying is well enough known for P.G.Wodehouse to give one of the Blandings Castle novels the title 'Pigs have wings'. It's about attempts by the devilish neighbour, Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, to kidnap Lord Emsworth's prize pig, The Empress of Blandings, so that she should not win the prize pig competition at the local show for the third year running.

    Clearly boiling fowl, which are ancient chickens trussed and ready for boiling, are on the face of it as incapable of flight as pigs.

    It might be worth mentioning that the adjective boiling, which can refer to the temperature of the noun it qualifies, isn't performing that function here, Girl from Rio. It indicates a type of chicken; it tells us that we aren't dealing, for instance, with a roasting chicken.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The construction in Lis's "stewing chicken" is the same as that in your "boiling fowl", girl from rio.

    "Stewing chicken" = "chicken for stewing" = "chicken suitable for being stewed".

    "Boiling fowl" = "fowl for boiling" = "fowl suitable for being boiled".

    Oh, and I've never heard the expression "boiling fowl might fly", either. It's clearly an invention of the writer - a variation on "pigs might fly":)
     

    girl from rio de janeiro

    Banned
    Portuguese (Brazilian)
    The construction in Lis's "stewing chicken" is the same as that in your "boiling fowl", girl from rio.

    "Stewing chicken" = "chicken for stewing" = "chicken suitable for being stewed".

    "Boiling fowl" = "fowl for boiling" = "fowl suitable for being boiled".

    Oh, and I've never heard the expression "boiling fowl might fly", either. It's clearly an invention of the writer - a variation on "pigs might fly":)
    Thank you!
     
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