salt on his tail

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Senior Member
Français de France
Hello. I don't understand what this means in the following sentence :
"If he came back that night - and, come to think of it, it was quite possible he would, because he had hardly ever bought a beast without going away from the house, and then coming back, perhaps two or three times, to squeeze the price down a few pence - if he should come back, she would put some salt on his tail where the price was concerned, that was certain."
Can you explain ? Thanks
  • The Curate's Egg

    England, English
    I've never heard it but Googled it and according to Brewer's dictionary of Phrase and Fable, it means to 'catch or apprehend' someone. Apparently small children were told to put salt on a bird's tail if they wanted to catch it.
    Does that help at all?


    Senior Member
    English - British
    The fable goes that if you put salt on a bird´s tail, you will be able to catch it. But of course that is almost impossible. The idiom has come to mean to catch someone. So the woman decides that if the man comes back, she will catch him out and not let him get away with squeezing the price down again.
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