In Reply to: As wrong as six rabbits posted by ESC on January 24, 2009 at 18:33:
: : This is a phrase my mother-in-law uses when someone has committed an offence against another person - "That's as wrong as six rabbits". Does anyone have any idea what that means or where it came from?
: So far I've found some supertitions about rabbits including that it is bad luck to meet a rabbit on your way to a boat/ship or to mention one while onboard. Someone who wishes you ill might nail a rabbit skin to the mast. ("Encyclopedia of Superstitions" by E. and M.A. Radford, edited and revised by Christina Hole, Barnes and Noble Books, 1996. First published in 1948.) Rabbit meaning an amateur or poor performer at cricket, for an example. ("Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" revised by John Ayto, HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 2005, Seventeenth Edition). There's rabbit to mean a prisoner who runs away. Where was your mother-in-law born and raised? That might narrow it down.
My wife's mother was a very superstitious soul, and apparently not alone. At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_rabbit, the article tries to make what sense it can of the superstition of saying "rabbits" three times at the end (or beginning) of a new month. One extract:
The earliest referenced usage may be to saying "rabbits" three times before going to sleep the last night of the month, and then "hares" three times first thing upon waking, though just two years later, it was three "rabbits" in the morning with no "hares" at all.
Hares or no, maybe six rabbits would be seriously wrong in this context.
This is clearly not a robust derivation - just the best I can do. (GC)