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Craw--age unknown

Posted by R. Berg on November 07, 2001

In Reply to: Sticks in your craw posted by ESC on November 07, 2001

: : I know what a craw is and I know what the meaning of this phrase is...but where did it come from??

: STICK IN ONE'S CRAW - "When you can't swallow something, when it won't go down, or you are loath to accept it, it sticks in your craw. The craw is the crop or preliminary stomach of a fowl, where food is predigested. Hunters centuries ago noticed that some birds swallowed bits of stone that were too large to pass through the craw and into the digestive tract. These stones, unlike the sand and pebbles needed by birds to help grind food in the pouch, literally stuck in the craw, couldn't go down any farther. This oddity became part of the language of hunters and the phrase was soon used figuratively." From the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

Having observed the vagueness of "centuries ago," I looked in the Oxford English Dictionary, the usual source for the age of an expression, to find a date. I couldn't find the phrase there at all.

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