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In clover

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 13, 2009 at 17:34

In Reply to: In clover posted by Smokey Stover on March 13, 2009 at 10:28:

: : : I was surprised not to find the expression: "I'm in clover" in Google. I'm from Texas and it is a common expression, similar to "I'm in high cotton". Have you ever heard of the expression of being in clover?

: :
: : Just add in "tall clover" or "high clover" and it is American West, Texas before Civil War so older that "tall or high cotton", also common in New mexico and Colorado, "clover" or "hay" not cotton.

: I've never heard clover used with "high" or "tall." The plants tends to stay close to the ground, and even when it is doing very well it doesn't reach above a foot or so. On the other hand, cows love it, hence the common use of the phrase as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.

: "to live (or be) in clover: 'to live luxuriously; clover being extremely delicious and fattening to cattle' (J.)."

: They give examples from 1710 on, and I have found it used this way in plenty of books of a more modern kind. Expressions originating in agriculture have a way of lingering on in the language, long after agriculture ceased to be the principal occupation of any large proportion of the population. However, I can vouch for the preference of cows for clover, having worked on a farm. /
: SS

I have to take issue with the OED on the phrase "to live luxuriously." When you say, "I'm in clover," clover has to be taken relatively. If my best expectations were being fulfilled I would be in clover. But different people have different expectations, and mine (for instance) don't really include anything that would be called "living luxuriously." Luxury to me implies a standard of living characterized by an excessive consumption of resources. To be sure, I may be living in luxury compared to the average Joe in Bangladesh. But "compared to" is an indication of relativity.

When a cow is in clover, it's as good as it gets for a cow. Perhaps that's the meaning of the phrase: "as good as it gets."