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"I couldn't give a fig"

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 11, 2006

In Reply to: "I couldn't give a fig" posted by Toby on April 11, 2006

: "I couldn't give a fig" - where does this come from, and why figs?

If you don't care a pickle or a fig, you may grow up to be a pig. Stifle that temptation to see "fig" in this phrase as a euphemism for another word that starts with the same letter. The OED has this: ". a. As a type of anything small, valueless, or contemptible; also, a dried fig; a fig's end. In phrases: never a fig = not at all; (to bid, care, give) a fig, or fig's end for; to mind, value (a person or thing), be worth a fig or fig's end." This usage of fig goes back to the earliest days of modern English (or the end of Middle English). To care a fig is to care almost nothing; not to care a fig, or give a fig, is to care nothing at all. SS