i hear mine older coworkers use this idiom/phrase occasionally. The seems perhaps to it is in a humorous way to acquire out that a conversation. Even as a native invernessgangshow.net speaker, I"ve never established the exact situation you would usage this phrase. It practically sounds prefer it may have once been a punchline come a hoax in a movie or something.

You are watching: I have to see a man about a horse

I"m curious what is the exact meaning/usage of this phrase/idiom? wherein does it originate?


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Wikipedia actually has an article committed to this phrase. It says:

The earliest shown publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault pat Flying Scud in which a character knowingly breezes past a an overwhelming situation saying, "Excuse me Mr. Quail, i can"t stop; I"ve got to see a man around a dog." In a listing for a 1939 renewal on the NBC Radio regime America"s shed Plays, Time magazine observed that the expression is the play"s "claim to fame".

Wiktionary adds:

The most typical variation is come "see a man around a horse". Practically any noun can be substituted as a method of giving the hearer a hint around one"s function in departing. The inversion come "see a dog about a man" eliminates any lingering uncertainty about whether the hearer is being put off. A much shorter variant is come "see a man".

As to the exact situation in which girlfriend would usage this phrase, it suggests:

Used together an excuse for leaving without offering the genuine reason (especially if the factor is to go to the toilet, or to have actually a drink)

Back come Wikipedia again,

During ban in the united States, the expression was most typically used in relationship to the intake or purchase of alcoholic beverages.

World large Words has extr info:

This has been a helpful (and usefully vague) excuse for absenting oneself from company for around 150 years, though the genuine reason for slipping away has not always been the same. <...> From various other references at the time there were three possibilities: 1) needed to visit the loo <...> 2) he remained in urgent require of a restorative drink, presumed alcoholic; or 3) he had a similarly urgent must visit his mistress.

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Of these reasons <...> the second became the most typical sense throughout the prohibition period. Currently that society’s conventions have shifted to the suggest where nobody of these factors need reason much remark, the energy of the phrase is greatly diminished and it is most frequently used in a facetious sense, if in ~ all.