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Sharp as a fox

Posted by Baceseras on June 02, 2007

In Reply to: Sharp as a fox posted by Parthian on June 01, 2007

: In the UK series 'Bill Brand', 'there they were, sharp as foxes' was used to mean 'vividly there'. This ties in with 'sharp as a fox' meaning very clever. My query is where the phrase comes from and why a fox should be 'sharper' than, say, a swordfish. Or,is it a corruption of 'cunning as a fox' and 'sharp as a tack'? Any ideas?

Although "sharp as a fox" clearly refers to the "clever, cunning" sort of sharpness, the word "sharp" itself also has meanings of physical quickness, alertness, ferocity, impetuousness, and a rapidity in taking advantage of opportunities. All of these senses may have affected the meaning of the phrase for the author of the "Bill Brand" series.