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Mare's nest

Posted by R. Berg on March 12, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of phrase - a mares nest posted by Colin R Parkin on March 12, 2003

: Have established what this means and it originated in the 16 Century or thereabouts. However I can't find a logical explanation for the use of the words.
: Can any one give me a reference?

The logical explanation is that "mare's nest" describes a discovery that turns out to be illusory because mares don't make nests at all. The Oxford English Dictionary says "horse's nest" is recorded earlier than "mare's nest."