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Pig's ear

Posted by Ward on December 13, 2003

In Reply to: Pig's ear posted by Joe Grocott-James on December 13, 2003

: The phrase finder says that pig's ear means beer (a cockney rhyming slang). But, I have heard of making a pig's ear of something, meaning to make a bad job of something. Where does this come from?

::: The expression I'm used to is "you can't make a silk purse out of a pigs ear" -- suggesting that some improvement projects of different kinds are doomed to failure. I've heard it used when someone has introduced a new friend and a critic points to a chequred past on the part of that individual and essentially says --- 'the cat doesn't change his spots'.

Some years ago, a group of scientists who had more money than brains set out to convert the proteins and chemicals in a sows ear into a silky purse. They spent a great deal and were educated to the truth of this expression.

See also: Pig's ear - meaning and origin.