"hide nor hair"

Posted by ESC on August 27, 2000

In Reply to: "Hide nor hair" posted by Greg Pauls on August 27, 2000

: What is the origin of the phrase "hide nor hair"?

"Where's John?" "I don't know. I ain't seen hide nor hair of him."

NEITHER HIDE NOR HAIR - "This sounds like such a typically western American expression that it is surprising to find that, though American, it is merely the reverse of one so old that it might have been known to Chaucer. The ancient saying was 'in hide and hair,' and the meaning was 'wholly, entirely.' The American phrase means 'nothing whatsoever.' Our first record of it occurs in one of the early works of Josiah G. Holland, 'The Bay Path,' published in 1857: 'I haven't seen hide nor hair of the piece ever since.' Holland, it may be recalled, wrote under the pen name Timothy Titcomb and, in 1870, founded 'Scribner's Magazine.'" From A Hog on Ice (1948, Harper & Row) by Charles Earle Funk. This is one in a series of four books by Mr. Funk now available in one volume.