He's a penguin [=stingy?]

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Hello forum!

It is just out of curiosity, but I would like to ask if you use the term penguin for a stingy person, in any part of the English speaking world. It's the short arms/wings of a penguin that should allow for the comparison with a mean, stingy person...
I have heard this term used in Southern Central Africa, so I think it may come from South Africa, where penguins are in great number, but it is just my wild guessing, as I haven't found any proof for it.
May you help quench my curiosity, please ? :)
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    As far as I know, chipulukusu, "penguin" isn't used to mean "miser" or "stingy person" in any variety of English.
     

    amatriciana

    Senior Member
    English - UK and US
    I've never heard it before, and never come across it in any books I've read. I lived many years in New Zealand, lots of penguins there too but no such idiom. Doesn't disprove your theory of course.

    P.S. I've only heard it used to mean a short, rotund person..
     
    Last edited:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome.

    It may as well be an African expression which has been forced into English
    That could very well be true. I'm not familiar with African English, but I'll bet that people who speak that variety of English have borrowed many ideas and phrases from African languages.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Perhaps a penguin's arms are too short for him to reach into his pocket or extend a handful of money to his neighbors. I hope that Chipulukusu returns to set us straight on the subject. :)
     
    Yes, sorry Pob, I gave too much for granted! Owlman is right, the meaning is exactly that the arms are too short to reach the pockets and grab money! :)
    I omitted to explain, because it is common in Italian to say "he has a short arm" meaning "he is a stingy person", so it was just natural for me.
     
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