Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin

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presl

Senior Member
Hi! I know that 'chinny-chin-chin' is a cute way of saying 'chins'. But I do not quite understand the part - 'not by the hair'. Could you make this line in red clear? What does 'Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin" mean? Many thanks.


[The Three Little Pigs]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Little_Pigs

"Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"

"Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!"

"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    (I take it this isn't from Prison Break, Presl:D)

    It's just a whimsical way of saying No way! / Never ever! ... not to be 'translated' too closely:)
     

    presl

    Senior Member
    (I take it this isn't from Prison Break, Presl:D)
    Ha ha! I learned a new expression in the Warehouse 13 which is related to a line in this story! :D


    It's just a whimsical way of saying No way! / Never ever!
    Yes, ewie, I interpreted the entire line as 'No way!' But I do not quite get why the little pig say 'not by the hair on my ....' I mean, the literal meaning.

    May I get this whole line as ' I do not think you are going to succeed in getting in my house to catch me by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin. ' ?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ...
    May I get this whole line as ' I do not think you are going to succeed in getting in my house to catch me by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin. ' ?
    Interesting ... in decades of listening to and reading aloud this story, that possibility has never occurred to me.

    I have always heard this as an oath, an affirmation, by each little pig, swearing by something he holds dear. Perhaps this is because the version I am familiar with has slightly different wording.
    Wolf: Little pig, little pig, let me come in.
    Pig: Oh no, not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin, I'll not let you in.

    Now, why on earth would the little pigs swear by the hair on their chins?
    Pigs are not famed for their hair, and certainly not the hair on their chins.
    Perhaps the story began with goats instead of pigs :)
    Another of life's mysteries to ponder.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I have always heard this as an oath, an affirmation, by each little pig, swearing by something he holds dear
    Yes, that's how I've always heard it ~ along the lines of In the name of all that's holy, you shall not pass! or By all the saints in heaven, you'd better stop doing that now!

    Perhaps the story began with goats instead of pigs :)
    Beasties often mutate in the retelling of folk tales:)
    Parallels - The similarity of the concluding episode with the finish of the "Three Little Pigs" (Eng. Fairy Tales, No. xiv.). In my notes on that droll I have pointed out that the pigs were once goats or kids with "hair on their chinny chin chin.
    (My emphasis).

    Source.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The hair on one's chin is one's beard. In folklore, the beard was always considered special, or magical, or sacred, and taking an oath by one's beard was a standard practice. Notice, by the way, how in Act 4, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona the Third Outlaw says (in response to the Second Outlaw's statement that they will listen to Valentine):
    Ay, by my beard, will we, for he's a proper man.

    Pigs do not have beards, of course, but they may have stray hairs on their chin that can at least serve the purpose for taking an oath.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Another piece in the jigsaw!
    If I put together ewie's find suggesting that the pigs were once goats and GWB's information about the long pedigree of swearing by one's beard, the mystery is solved, is it not?
    Not for the first time. It seems that this voyage of discovery is well-trodden.
    (Googling three little pigs goats beard finds several previous reports.)
     

    lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    This is interesting. All these years I've assumed that because the pigs had little to no beard, the pigs were vowing that there was little to no chance that the wolf would be successful.

    I need to learn not to assume. :eek:
     

    presl

    Senior Member
    I have always heard this as an oath, an affirmation, by each little pig, swearing by something he holds dear.
    Yes, that's how I've always heard it ~ along the lines of In the name of all that's holy, you shall not pass! or By all the saints in heaven, you'd better stop doing that now!

    I can see where I was confused now. Thank you very much, everybody. I get it this time! : D


    GreenWhiteBlue, ewie, thanks for your comments and the link.
     

    jimbojamesIV

    New Member
    English
    As I was reading Shakespeare's As You Like it, I came across the phrase, "Swear by one's beard," and I have come to realize that swear by one's beard, as swear by the hair on my chinny, chin-chin (or even just one chin), means to swear on one's head, or, more precisely, one's life; and if it comes to pass that it is not so, well, then the price is your head.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    As I was reading Shakespeare's As You Like it, I came across the phrase, "Swear by one's beard," and I have come to realize that swear by one's beard, as swear by the hair on my chinny, chin-chin (or even just one chin), means to swear on one's head, or, more precisely, one's life; and if it comes to pass that it is not so, well, then the price is your head.
    I would disagree. The beard was specifically the emblem of manhood and of adult male respect and dignity. Loss of the beard (especially an involuntary loss) was considered an enormous humiliation, and a source of deep shame. There is, for example, this account from chapter 19 of the first book of Chronicles in the Bible which describes the rude treatment given the ambassadors of King David by King Hanun:
    <<...>> Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved them, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away. Then there went certain, and told David how the men were served. And he sent to meet them: for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.
    You might also ask any soldier who has served in Afghanistan whether American and European military regulations that require soldiers to be clean-shaven result in a physical appearance that many Afghanis regard as effeminate and disgraceful, and whether as a result those regulations are often unenforced by some commanders.
     
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    nijath77

    New Member
    English
    Hi! I know that 'chinny-chin-chin' is a cute way of saying 'chins'. But I do not quite understand the part - 'not by the hair'. Could you make this line in red clear? What does 'Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin" mean? Many thanks.

    My understanding of this phrase is that the hairs on the pig's chin, though tiny, would not even let the wolf in. This folktale, as all folktales are, is a fantasy, so the extent to which the fantasy will go is left to your imagination. I would say that the hair on the pig's chin has being animated like a cartoon, in the pig's thinking, to actually refusing to open the door for the wolf in support of the pig.

    "Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"

    "Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!"

    "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    No, I think the little pigs are swearing on their beards, (as one does), and I would say that this little touch is meant to make children laugh since they know pigs don't have beards, and in fact have very little chin to speak of. I don't think it's necessary to suppose the original animals were goats.
     

    againhpozos

    New Member
    Spanish
    No, I think the little pigs are swearing on their beards, (as one does), and I would say that this little touch is meant to make children laugh since they know pigs don't have beards, and in fact have very little chin to speak of. I don't think it's necessary to suppose the original animals were goats.
    There is a phrase in spanish (It may not make much sense in english) that may explain what the pigs intend to say... << Spanish removed. >> (By a tiny hair of a bald frog), meaning that something was that close to happen.... Well, just a thought! Anyway, is the moral of Three Little Pigs that counts (What was that BTW?)

    Regards!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    "Not by the hair on my chinny- chin-chin!”

    The line is well-known. It is from the story 'Three Little Pigs'. Well, the meaning is sort of clear. The sentence means 'No way I am going to do it.'
    But how does it work?
    What does 'by' mean in that sentence?
    Could you give other examples of that usage of 'by'?

    Many thanks.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    It's the by used in oaths, such as "I'll do it, by God!", "By Jove, I think he's got it!", or "I swear by the souls of my children."

    Cross-posted
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Azz, I've merged your question, and the replies it received, with an earlier thread that addresses this topic. If you have any further questions, you're welcome to add them to this thread.

    JustKate
    English Only moderator
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you very much.

    This is really interesting. I knew about 'by my beard' and all that. My problem is that he says: 'NOT by the hairs of my chin'. I believe it should be: 'By the hairs of my chin, I will not let you in.'

    It is the first 'not' that throws me off. You might say 'By all that is sacred, I will not let you in.' But would you say 'NOT by all that is sacred'?

    Many thanks.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    You're right that it really is flawed logically, but I think it's just a rhythm thing. It is part of a little rhyming couplet, so it has to fit the meter. What it means is "By the (sacred/powerful thing), I will not let you in."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think that there is some ellipsis here:

    "Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"


    "[I will] Not, [I swear] by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, [let you in]!"
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I also now see that the Wikipedia page has "No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin." but then the words of the story are not set in stone.
     

    Kemosabe1

    New Member
    English
    Hi! I know that 'chinny-chin-chin' is a cute way of saying 'chins'. But I do not quite understand the part - 'not by the hair'. Could you make this line in red clear? What does 'Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin" mean? Many thanks.


    [The Three Little Pigs]

    The Three Little Pigs - Wikipedia

    "Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"

    "Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!"

    I`m not sure Pigs have any hair on their chin being as how they grub in the dirt. It may be like saying "fine as a frogs hair" when Frogs have none to begin with: thats how "fine" is is.


    "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
     

    Alaa Ghazalah

    New Member
    العربية Arabic
    In Egypt and Arab countries , it is widly popular to say “this is my chin” to dare someone if he can do a particular action.
     
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