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All around Robin Hood's barn

Posted by ESC on September 01, 2000

In Reply to: Around Robin Hood's barn posted by Patty on September 01, 2000

: I've recently encountered the phrase "around Robin Hood's barn" meaning something indirect, or to take the long way around.

: Does anyone know where this expression comes from? Also, are there other equivalent colorful phrases?

: Patty

ALL AROUND ROBIN HOOD'S BARN - "Robin Hood (or 'Robert of the wood,' as some have explained the name) may have been altogether a legendary figure or may have actually existed. No one knows. The earliest literary reference to him is in Langland's 'Piers Plowman,' written about 1377. He may have lived, according to some light evidence, toward the latter part of the twelfth century. But Robin Hood's house was Sherwood Forest; its roof the leaves and branches. His dinner was the king's deer; his wealth the purses of hapless travelers. What need had he of a barn, and how was it laid out if to go around it means, as the use of the phrase implies, a rambling roundabout course? The explanation is simple. He had no barn. His granary, when he had need of one, was the cornfields of the neighborhood. To go around his barn was to make a circuitous route around the neighborhood fields." 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.

Here's a colorful phrase known only to folks around Raleigh County in southern West Virginia: "I had to go all the way to Egery and back to get that." "Egery" referring to Egeria, a little community WAY out in the country close to Flat Top, West Virginia.

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