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Fighting like (the) Kilkenny cats

Posted by ESC on April 07, 2009 at 21:38

In Reply to: Fighting like (the) Kilkenny cats posted by Dario Depiante on April 07, 2009 at 15:36:

: Often the most colorful use of language is by people fairly advanced in years. For me, this lends a sense of urgency to finding out where some of that usage came from. The fear, I suppose, is that something valuable will be irretrievably lost if phraseology is allowed to die off with its users. Conversely, some expressions become utterly senseless once their currency is depleted. That said; Where did the expression "Fighting like (the) Kilkenny cats." come from? Other than geographically-speaking, that is.

One of my very few British references says the expression came from "an old Irish legend about two cats who fought each other so long and so murderously that finally there was nothing left but their tails." "British English from A to Zed" by Norman Schur (FirstHarperPerennial edition, 1991). Page 199.