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Wet behind the ears

Posted by Masakim on November 11, 2001

In Reply to: Wet behind the ears posted by James Briggs on November 11, 2001

: : : What is the origin and meaning of the phrase "wet behind the ears"?

: : Meaning: Very gulible or innocent

: : Origin: The 'wetness' is suposed to be from just being born. Ie. you still have the fluid from your mothers womb behind your ears.

: If someone is wet behind the ears they are regarded as being inexperienced and new to a task. The saying is many hundred of years old and comes from the fact that many animals, when they are new born, have a small depression behind the ears. The young themselves are wet at birth and this depression is the last thing to dry out. By the time it does, the animal is a little older and possibly wiser.

There is also the phrase "dry behind the ears," meaning "mature, grown-up, experienced" (usually in negative contexts).

We heard mutterings about kids who weren't dry behind the ears yet. (Foy & Harlow, _Clowning Thro' Life_, 1928)

When you bastards get dry behin' the ears, you'll maybe learn to let a ol' fella asleep. (J. Steinbeck, _The Grapes of Wrath_, 1939)

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