ns hear my older coworkers use this idiom/phrase occasionally. That seems maybe to be a humorous method to get out that a conversation. Also as a native chrischona2015.org speaker, I"ve never established the exact case you would usage this phrase. It practically sounds choose it may have once to be a punchline come a joke in a movie or something.

You are watching: See a man about a horse

I"m curious what is the precise meaning/usage the this phrase/idiom? whereby does that originate?


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Wikipedia actually has actually an article dedicated to this phrase. It says:

The earliest confirmed publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault play Flying Scud in i beg your pardon a character knowingly breezes past a challenging situation saying, "Excuse me Mr. Quail, ns can"t stop; I"ve gained to check out a man around a dog." In a listing because that a 1939 rebirth on the NBC Radio routine America"s shed Plays, Time newspaper observed that the phrase is the play"s "claim to fame".

Wiktionary adds:

The most usual variation is come "see a man about a horse". Practically any noun can be substituted together a way of providing the hearer a hint about one"s purpose in departing. The inversion come "see a dog about a man" eliminates any type of lingering uncertainty about whether the hearer is being put off. A shorter variant is come "see a man".

As come the exact instance in which friend would usage this phrase, that suggests:

Used as an excuse because that leaving without giving the real reason (especially if the reason is to go to the toilet, or to have a drink)

Back to Wikipedia again,

During prohibition in the unified States, the phrase was most typically used in relation to the intake or acquisition of alcohol addict beverages.

World vast Words has extr info:

This has actually been a advantageous (and usefully vague) excuse for absenting oneself from agency for about 150 years, though the genuine reason for slipping away has actually not constantly been the same. <...> From other references at the moment there were 3 possibilities: 1) required to visit the loo <...> 2) he remained in urgent need of a restorative drink, presumed alcoholic; or 3) he had actually a an in similar way urgent have to visit his mistress.

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Of these factors <...> the 2nd became the most usual sense during the ban period. Currently that society’s conventions have actually shifted to the allude where no one of these reasons need cause much remark, the energy of the expression is greatly diminished and also it is most often used in a facetious sense, if at all.