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Posted by Marc on May 03, 2000

In Reply to: Talk posted by ESC on April 14, 2000

: Talk the hind legs off a donkey.
: : I have heard this phrase many times but do not know its meaning.Why the hind leg(s) ? Why a donkey ?

: Well, it's not just the "hind legs off a donkey." This phrase is just one in a series. Here are some examples from This Dog'll Really Hunt: An Entertaining Texas Dictionary by Wallace O. Chariton:

: Talk water into a boil at 20 paces.
: Talk the hide off a longhorn bull.
: Talk the hide off a gila monster.
: Talk the legs off an iron stove.
: Talk a wagon out of a ditch.
: Talk the ears off a wooden Indian.

: And it seems to me I've heard:
: Talk the bark off a tree.

That's iteresting but still does not indicate the origin and original use of
the phrase. I heard somewhere that it comes from the old sailing days, a
donkey was horizontal pulley into which poles were inserted and then the pulley
and ropes could be torqued ('talked'), if the tension got to high and someone let go then
sailor on the 'hind leg' of the pulley could be flung overboard.

I have no way of verifing this though, anyone with any other ideas ?