phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Origin of phrase - mare's nest

Posted by James Briggs on March 12, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of phrase - mare's nest posted by Harikrishnan Menon on March 12, 2003

: The oldest reference I could find is from the play "Bonduca" by Beaumont and Fletcher (performed on stage circa 1614; printed 1647)

: -------------------------

: Petillius: Why dost thou laugh? What mare's nest hast thou found?

: Junius: Ha, ha, ha! I cannot laugh alone: Decius! Demetrius! Curius! Oh, my sides! ha, ha, ha, ha!

: -Bonduca (Act V, Scene 2)

A Mare's nest is a "nothing"; a triviality where once was thought to be importance. An example is "He's discovered a mare's nest". In some parts of Scotland it is a "snake's nest"; in Cornwall a "wee's nest" and in Devon a "blind mare's nest". It seems that Mare is only one of several variants and happens to have become the most well known; however, why 'Mare' has defeated me.