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Posted by R. Berg on February 29, 2004

In Reply to: Whinney-whicker? posted by Smokey Stover on February 29, 2004

: : "She knew all the songs that have ever been sung, from the war-songs of the South, that make the old men angry with the young men and the young men angry with the State, to the love-songs of the North, where the swords whinny-whicker like angry kites in the pauses between the kisses, and the Passes fill with armed men, and the Lover is torn from his Beloved and cries Ai! Ai! Ai! evermore."
: : On the City Wall - In Black and White - Rudyard Kipling

: : Both "whinny" and "whicker" refer to horse noises. Does anyone know what "whinny-whicker" means?

: Never heard the phrase, and it's hard to imagine kites and sword-play sounding alike, even if the kites are angry. I can't really imagine sword-play sounding like horses whinnying either. but Kipling was there and I wasn't. I should think that whinny-whicker would mean a sound with some resemblance to both whinnying and whickering. (I assume you've heard horses whicker.) Inconsequentially, the American Potash Institute used to put out a little magazine for farmers, which had a pretty good joke page. It was called, "A Few Whinnies."

The OED (1st ed.) doesn't have "whinny-whicker." I'd guess it's an impromptu compound that Kipling made up to describe the sound of moving blades. OED does have "The whinnying of swords as they whistled through the air" (Crockett, 1895).