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Re: Madder than cut snakes

Posted by Pamela on March 17, 2006

In Reply to: Madder than cut snakes posted by nessi on March 16, 2006

: Hey, I am currently reading a book about Australia and so far I encountered the saying 'madder than cut snakes' twice(without any context to it, only they talk about the Queenslander). In this forum I found 'Mad as a cut snake'. I guess it means the same, but what?? - Like'out of their minds', 'crazy'????

Baker (The Austrlian Language, 1934) recorded three "cut snake" similies in use in Australia in the early C20: "Mad like a cut snake", "Silly as a cut snake" and "Wriggle like a cut snake". "Mad as a ..." and "silly as a ..." were recorded as meaning the same thing, so "mad" originally would have meant "silly" rather than "insane" (probably because of the way that cut snakes wriggle). The phrase has changed meaning since then - in Queensland, at least "madder than a cut snake" means "very angry". (I did a quick round-the-pub-table-after-work survey everyone agreed that the phrase meant "very angry" or "furious" etc). Having said that, Australian slang sites seem divided between defining the word mad in the phrase as meaning "angry" and "crazy". By the way - I'm curious to know what you meant when you said "they only talk about the Queenslander"? Did you mean a style of house or a person? Or something else? Pamela