Craw--age unknown

Posted by Maskim on November 08, 2001

In Reply to: Craw--age unknown posted by R. Berg 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.

stick in one's craw Also, stick in one's throat.
1. Be unable to say something, as in _I meant to apologize but the words stuck in my craw_. [Early 1600s]
2. Be so offensive that one can't tolerate it, as in _That obscene art exhibit stuck in my throat_. [Late 1600s]
From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer

Stick in One's Craw, To. To be unacceptable or repugnant. It has also been "crop" and "gizzard," all three expressions referring to the place in a bird's digestive tract where food is ground up. In the _Vindication of Sir Thomas Player_ one finds. "'Tis the Matter, not the Manner, that sticks in our Unworthy Respondents Gizzard."
From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers