phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Horse of a Different Color

Posted by Masakim on December 13, 2002

In Reply to: Horse of a Different Color posted by Mark Laskowski on December 13, 2002

: I am trying to find out the origins of the idiom "horse of a different color". I have discovered this from
: (see below), but for some intuitive reason, it just isn't "singing" to me as the bonafide origin of one of the many "horse" idioms we find it English. Any feedback? Forgive me if there's been any breach in decorum or process, I'm a newbie when it comes to posting on this site. Thanks in advance.

: Horse of a different color
: Meaning: Unlike the subject at hand.
: Example: Bush and Reagan are both credible, but Clinton is a horse of a different color.
: Origin: Horses are registered at birth and the registration includes a record of their color. When a horse trades hands due to sale, the registration is also transferred. Sometimes the color recorded on the registration may not match the actual color of the horse leading one to suspect the horse is not the one in the registration.

: Horses sometimes change color as they age, just as some people's hair changes color. More likely the horse is not the one represented on the registration but is actually an entirely different horse.

: Thanks to Radar

Horse of a Different Color, A. A topiv or a plan that represents a change from what one thought was being talked about or considered. Shakespare offered the companion saying in _Twelfth Night_ , where Maria is offered a comment on her plans against Malvolio and responds: "My purpose is, indeed, a horse of that colour." [Act II, Scene iii --masakim] In 1798 the Philadelphia _Aurora_ had a line on President John Adams, to whom the paper referred sarcastically as King John I: "Whether any of them may be induced ... to enter into the pay of King James I is 'a horse of another color.'" One suspects the image originated in racing where one might have bet on a horse of a certain color only to find that a horse of another color is winning.
From The Dictionary of Cliches_ by James Rogers