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Thread: a gray mare

  1. #1
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Default a gray mare

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    “Rob has a gray mare on his stable at home.”
    “A gray mare?” said I.
    “The wife, man – the wife – an awful wife she is.”

    the gray mare = a domineering women

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V

  2. #2
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    I think it's about the ambiguity in the song "The Old Gray Mare", where the old gray mare can be understood as a famale horse (mare) or as an old woman.

  3. #3
    Tullia's Avatar
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    “Rob has a grey mare in his stable at home.”
    “A grey mare?” said I.
    “The wife, man – the wife – an awful wife she is.”
    grey - Br English
    gray = American

    in a stable, not on it


    Birdeen is correct.

    A mare is a female horse.

    It can also be used as an insulting term for a woman; calling a woman a horse implies she is ugly.

    I would assume the "grey" is a way of calling her old.

    There's no real sense of "domineering" to it, it's more to do with physical appearance - in a very negative sense.

    Do not refer to your own wife as a "grey mare" anywhere she can here you or you might get a slap! ;)

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    Quote Originally Posted by Tullia View Post
    ...

    A mare is a female horse.

    It can also be used as an insulting term for a woman; calling a woman a horse implies she is ugly.
    ...

    It can also be used as an abbreviation of 'nightmare' - example 'I've had a mare of a day.' So between the two meanings there's a shared pejorative sense.

    b

  5. #5
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    I am astonished that many grown-up native English speakers have no good knowledge of English language. The facts tells its own story.

    Here are a few brief excerpts from popular English book that probably are missing to mentioned above native English speakers.

    Have you a notion of the meaning of the expressions “a henpecked husband”, “wear the breeches”, “wear the pants in the family”,” “live under the cat’s foot/paw”, “be under peticoat government”, “be under the thumb of one’s wife”?

    ..The Squire’s squeamish… But he don’t count. The gray mare is all right. (Galsworthy’s “The Skin Game”)

    Now what do you seems think of him? Do you think he knows his own mind? He seems to me a poor thing. I should say the gray mare was the better horse. (Galsworthy’s “The Man of Property”
    She hated that expression “The gray mare is the better horse” it was vulgar, and she would never recognize its truth in her own acse. (Galsworthy’s “The Little Man and Other Satlres”

    Here are a few synonyms of domineering:
    arrogant, authoritarian, bossy, despotic, harsh, high handed, iron-handed, masterful, oppressive, overbearing, severe, tyrannical.

    They all on the whole are in relation with the discussing term "gray mare"


    V.
    Last edited by vil; 13-Aug-2010 at 15:32.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    I am astonished that many grown-up native English speakers have no good knowledge of English language. ...
    As BC isn't a native English speaker, I imagine you refer either to me or to Tullia. I am used to your insensitivity, but she's not. What she said about spelling is true now, though not when your sources were writing. The two spellings were taken to America by the Pilgrim Fathers, but Noah Webster chose one. After that, Br English - having started with both - gravitated towards the 'unAmerican' one. We're just cussed that way!

    b

  7. #7
    Tullia's Avatar
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    And I'm astonished that you would be so rude having asked for our help.

    In the phrases you quote, the bit that means the woman domineering or controlling is "the better horse" which was NOT in your OP.

    The "grey mare" taken without that context doesn't, in and of itself, have to hold that meaning at all. It is not a common idiom in general modern use.

  8. #8
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: a gray mare

    In my opinion you have to take the things tn their good part. I meant no ofence. I stood my rights. It is quite a different matter whether I make out a case for myself. I am sorry to hear that you are resent. My words were uttered not with that end in view. It is to be regretted for that vexing misunderstanding. But we people have so many differences, we can’t see eye to eye, can we?
    We are disputing people, aren’t we?

    I know that dispute = an angry altercation; a quarrel. Have we be right along (am.) angry. There is a proverb in our area “ Gramblers are losers”.

    We shouldn’t feel strongly about trifles.

    We have to look with favor one to other.

    V.
    Last edited by vil; 16-Aug-2010 at 10:03.

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