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Pig in a poke

Posted by Shae on October 20, 2002

In Reply to: Pig in a poke posted by axemania1 on October 19, 2002

: Having read the explanation of this phrase within this site, I thought it fell rather short on the complete etymology of the phrase. Indeed, a poke is/was a small pocket or sack. On a market, a pig would often be purchased, and unless the buyer examined the pig, he would likely find a puppy or cat in the bag, and this would be useless to him if he had purchased it for food. This also gave rise to 'letting the cat out of the bag'.

Etymology of 'poke': a wallet, a bag, a sack. Old Norman French 'poque,' Old French 'poche.' Terence Patrick Dolan, 'A Dictionary of Hiberno-English,' Gill & Macmillan, 1998.

A pig in a poke: something bought without inspection; goods accepted and paid for blindly.
'He would have greatly preferred to have the precious manuscript, like the others, for nothing; but after all, what was demanded of him was better than being asked to give hard cash for a pig in a poke' - James Payne.

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