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Mutton Dressed as Lamb

Posted by Tim Herbert on November 20, 2001

There is a long running debate at my workplace as to the exact reference of the above phrase. Effectively, there are two camps. The first believes that it is a reference to age - i.e. that it is something much older dressed up as something much younger. The second believes that it relates to quality - i.e. that it is something much poorer dressed up as something much better.

I imagine that whichever of these is correct must hark back to the origin of the phrase. Mutton is taken from an older sheep than a lamb. However, it is also a poorer quality of meat than lamb.

Which was meant originally?

Thanks

Tim