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Like a greased pig

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 10, 2010 at 06:22

In Reply to: Like a greased pig posted by Baceseras on January 07, 2010 at 23:48:

: : : : : An expression which seems to convey all the inevitability and speed of a sudden decline is:- "Going downhill like a greased pig".

: : : : : Anyone know the origin?

: : : : A traditional entertainment at British country festivals and fetes was to release a greased pig (normally a fairly small piglet) for everyone to try and catch. The winner got to keep the pig, which was of course a seriously valuable prize for a farm labourer. Excited pigs move much faster than you might think, and a greased one is very hard indeed to catch. (VSD)

: : : Is that the voice of experience, Victoria? Speaking as a quondam farm laborer, I can verify that greased pigs are not easy to catch and hold. Americans also have their country traditions, some of them called Dutch picnics, or, in my county, the firemen's picnic, in which egg-tossing, three-legged races, and pulling contests between teams of horses were common as well as the greased pig contest.
: : : SS

: : I confess I've never tried to catch a greased pig myself - but I have tried catching ungreased piglets and can attest that even that is pretty difficult. (VSD)

: [And let's take note that the expression proposed in the original poster's question is a bit of a mish-mosh. Something in speedy and inevitable decline does "go downhill," frequently it "goes downhill fast," and often as not "fast" is characterized by some vivid imagery - but not a greased pig, for those games are played on (relatively) level ground. - Bac.]

Baceceras is right, of course, about the incongruity of comparing a speedy but metaphorical decline with a greased pig going downhi;l, which is not typical of greased pigs. This also lets out "greased lightning" and "blue blazes" as indicators of downhill speed. What is more stale, flat and unprofitable, not to say pathetic, than a cliché which is not apposite.