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Mare's nest

Posted by TheFallen on March 13, 2003

In Reply to: Mare's nest posted by R. Berg 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."

I've frequently heard this phrase used (and probably wrongly) in the UK to mean a complete mess or screw-up - "he made a right mare's nest of that presentation."