Posted by ESC on October 12, 2005
In Reply to: "For the birds" posted by Bill on October 11, 2005
: As I recall, this came into vogue about 1950. Since I was in college at the time, I heard the un-Bowdlerized version. In that era there was still some horse-drawn traffic in rural areas, so everyone had seen birds pecking at road apples. The original expression was "Crap for the birds."
1950s sounds about right.
FOR THE BIRDS - "Worthless; overstated; appealing to the simple-minded. Probably the connotation is that only a birdbrain would go for whatever is being dished out. In J.D. Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye' Holden Caulfield is quoting and then commenting on a blurb issued by his preparatory school, Pencey Prep: 'Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men. Strictly for the birds.' From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).