Posted by Bookworm on March 21, 2003
In Reply to: I need help posted by Ed on March 21, 2003
: What is the end of this phrase? "As happy as a "
II am sure that there are many variations, but the most common is "happy
as a clam".
Now, as to why a clam would be so elated, I had no idea. Turns out that there is even more
to the phrase. I Googled it and came up with the following:
The saying is very definitely American, hardly known elsewhere. The
fact is, we've lost its second
half, which makes everything clear. The full expression is happy as a clam at high tide or happy as a
clam at high water. Clam digging has to be done at low tide, when you stand a chance of finding
them and extracting them. At high water, clams are comfortably covered in water and so able to
feed, comparatively at ease and free of the risk that some hunter will rip them untimely from their
sandy berths. I guess that's a good enough definition of happy.
The saying in its shortened form is first recorded in the 1830s, though it is almost certainly a lot
older; by 1848 the Southern Literary Messenger of Richmond, Virginia could say that the
expression in its short form "is familiar to every one".