Talk to a man about a horse

Posted by James Briggs on May 05, 2005

In Reply to: Talk to a man about a horse posted by Jason on May 05, 2005

: Does anyone have the etymology and meaning of the phrase "gotta talk to a man about a horse"?

I suspect that it's a variation of the phrase 'to see a man about a dog', used by someone that is unwilling to reveal the true nature of their business or to get out of an unwanted situation.
The expression comes from the long forgotten 1866 play Flying Scud by a prolific Irish-born playwright of the period named Dion Boucicault. One of the characters uses the words as an excuse to get away from a tricky situation. This character, an eccentric and superannuated old jockey, says: "Excuse me Mr. Quail, I can't stop; I've got to see a man about a dog". This is the only thing that seems to have survived from the play.