A cat?

Posted by ESC on March 23, 2000

In Reply to: Bright-eyed and bushy tailed? posted by ESC on March 22, 2000

: : I've always taken "Bright-eyed and bushy tailed" to mean awake, alert and ready to go......What is the origin and what animal was anthropomorphised in this saying?

: I would guess that it would be a squirrel. Have to get back to you on the origin.

Mr. Hendrickson disagrees with me. He says, "Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Bright-eyed is obvious and the bushy-tailed here is a reference to the tail of a cat, which fluffs up when the animal becomes excited. The expression means cheerful and lively, and it dates back to the nineteenth century." (From the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson, Facts on File, New York, 1997.)

My cats are never "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed." They are always ready for a little fish and a nap. So I still argue that it's a squirrel.