Posted by ESC on March 29, 2004
In Reply to: Re: No spring chicken! posted by Shae on March 29, 2004
: : Hi! Can you please tell me what this means (I think I've got it) and some history? Thank you, Sax
: From the archives:
: : : SPRING CHICKEN - "We find the expression 'now past a chicken,' meaning 'no longer young,' recorded as early as 1711 by Steele in 'The Spectator': 'You ought to consider you are now past a chicken; this Humour, which was well enough in a Girl, is insufferable in one of your Motherly Character.' 'No spring chicken,' an exaggeration of the phrase, is first recorded in America in 1906." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
: : The figurative meaning comes from the literal meaning: a young chicken, having tender meat. Some restaurant menus describe an offering as spring chicken to convince customers that the bird was slaughtered at the peak of perfection. This phrase doesn't seem to be applied to people very often anymore. Middle-aged and elderly women used to say "I'm no spring chicken," meaning they were past young adulthood, when talking about their attractiveness or their health and energy level.
: Type 'spring chicken' in the Seach box for more.
From the archives under "spring chicken""
This appears to originate in 1711 when published in the Spectator. "You ought to consider you are now past a chicken; this Humour, which was well enough in a Girl, is insufferable in one of your Motherly Character".
spring chicken 1 A young inexperienced person. Alkways used in "no spring chicken." 1907 : "I was no spring chicken in the way of the world...." Jack London, _My Life_. c1880. 2 A Young woman. Always in "[she's] no spring chicken." The most common use.
From _Dictionary of American Slang_ by H. Wentworth & S.B. Flexner
Spring chicken. A young person. The phrase is usually found in the negative, as 'She's no spring chicken.' The implication is that she has reached an age when she is no longer a chick. A spring chicken is a young fowl ready for eating, which was originally in the spring. The expression is of US origin and dates from the early years of the 20th century.
From _Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable_ by Adrian Room
She wasn't a Spring chicken, by any means, yet she wasn't old. (_Daily Mail_, 1914)