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Origin of Saying

Posted by Pdianek on December 27, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of Saying posted by Sheila on December 23, 2003

: : : I've searched on this sight for information about the phrase, 'TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS'. If anyone can tell me the origin of this phrase please let me know.
: : : Thanks,
: : : Sheila

: : Face up to a problem. I don't think it's from bull fighting. Cowboys are obliged to throw a steer in a rodeo event, so that might be one source. However, the reference may be purely metaphoric rather than literal.

: In addition I've often thought that as long as one is holding the horns (facing the problem) one would survive as opposed to being gouged. If the situation is that bad; sell the bull!

The phrase may be quite old, since in ancient Crete certain people (usually slaves trained to do so as part of religious festivities) were known (as I recall) as "bull dancers" -- those especially adept would catch the bull by its horns and vault on top. Like gladiators in ancient Rome, few survived for long.