veterinarian's horse

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tomtombp, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. tomtombp Senior Member

    What do you call when something has all the problems and symptoms that's possible?

    In Hungarian it's called a veterinarian's horse. The origin is a figure in vet's schoolbooks illustrating a horse with symptoms of all the illnesses a horse can have.

    It's used in general now for everything that's full of problems.

    Is there a similar term for this in english?

  2. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  3. tomtombp Senior Member

    Pandora's Box is different. We use it too.

    Vet's horse is not actually the horse of the vet but an example horse for illustrating to vets what TYPICAL illnesses a horse can develop.

    Typical is a keyword here I think. It's used for a product/service or situation that is full of TYPICAL flaws. It is mostly used as an example to illustrate what not to do.

    For example: This film is just the vet's horse of film making. Wrong cuts, bad lighting, mediocre actors, dull plot.

    Hope this clarifies what I mean.
  4. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    What do you call when something has all the problems and symptoms that's possible?

    Answer. Computer software? :eek: Joke or not?

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  5. jpyvr Senior Member

    Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
    English - Canadian
    I understand what the meaning is of the Hungarian idiom (veterinarian's horse), but I can't think of one that is used in English with exactly the same meaning. Perhaps English just doesn't have an idiom in this instance - I think we sound import "veterinarian's horse". I like it.
  6. tomtombp Senior Member

    Great! I'm happy I was able to contribute to the progress of English language:)
  7. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    I agree - it's a wonderful expression!

    I've been thinking about tomtombp's post all morning and can't come up with anything that has exactly the same meaning either:eek:!

    If we continue with the animal theme, I like the expressions, a pig's ear and a dog's breakfast, both meaning "a real mess".

    They don't mean quite the same as "veterinarian's horse", though.
  8. Majorbloodnock Senior Member

    South East England
    British English
    It's fairly common in BE to talk about a "Friday afternoon" item if that item is unusually plagued by faults. Therefore, a Friday afternoon car would be one where no sooner had you fixed one fault than it would develop a different one. The phrase comes from the idea that, by Friday afternoon, people on the production line would be looking forward to the weekend so much that they'd pay less attention to what they were doing and do a worse job as a result.

    Anything mechanical that doesn't run too smoothly can be described as a "bag of bolts", and if you buy something second-hand that turns out to be faulty (especially a car), you might complain that you'd bought or been sold "a nail".

    Most of the above are colloquialisms that tend to deal with mass-produced and/or mechanical items, though, so are probably not appropriate for describing a film. Instead, I'd suggest a (very informal, and rather disparaging) BE colloquialism; "dog's breakfast". The emphasis is on how badly someone did something rather than how it turned out, but otherwise it's a fairly close equivalent.

    As an example, imagine you tried wallpapering a room in your house and just couldn't get it quite right. A professional decorator would have much higher standards, so might be horrified at the faults in what you had done, so might say, "Well, that's a right dog's breakfast!".

    I'm afraid I have no idea of the origins of the phrase, though.
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's not the same thing, but the dog's breakfast gets a passing mention in dressed up like a dog's dinner

    I love the vet's horse idea, but I think it would be difficult to get people to understand the point ... ... or would it?
    The cobbler's family by legend have dreadful shoes, or no shoes at all.
    The doctor's family, by similar legend, are an unhealthy lot.
    The point being that the cobbler and the doctor are so busy earning money by looking after other people's shoes/illnesses that they can't afford the time to look after their own.

    By analogy, the vet's horse may be suffering from all kinds of horse complaints but will not receive attention from the vet.

    Having said all that, this is still not quite the same as tomtombp's vet's horse.
  10. JudeMama

    JudeMama Senior Member

    USA - Chicago suburbs
    American English
    In the US we decribe a car that has every mechanical problem imaginable and needs constant repair as a "lemon".

    In recent years I have heard this term used for almost anything mechanical.
  11. tomtombp Senior Member

    Thanks all for the many posts!

    Panjandrum, we also use the cobbler's shoes and -although it could be- but the vet's horse is not analogous with that. As I said it's not actually a the vet's horse it's just a model horse for vet students. The vet is used as an adjective before the horse in the Hungarian phrase. The exact translation would be veterinariany? or veterinary? horse. Sorry for disappointing everyone:(
    But I think a small twist is allowed when importing it to english as vet's horse:)
  12. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    A doctor's nightmare?
    A doctor's dream?

    Why does the word hypochondria keep running around in my brain?

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