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"for the birds"

Posted by R. Berg on June 14, 2006

In Reply to: "for the birds" posted by antiquary on June 13, 2006

: : Can someone tell me where the expression "for the birds" as when we say "this weather is fo the birds" came from?

: J D Salinger employed the phrase 'strictly for the birds' in Catcher In The Rye , and that seems to be the earliest known usage. In 1957 a writer in the journal American Speech wrote, 'The metaphor alludes to birds eating droppings from horses and cattle'. Nice.

Eric Partridge ("A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British") says it's been current in the U.S. since the late 1940s. Same derivation: a roundabout way of saying "That's a lot of horse****." Most likely, birds eat grain seeds in droppings, not actual droppings. ~rb