Hello,

I would like to ask a question about stylistical classification of two similar adjectives, "fleet-footed" / "fleet-legged".

(1) "Fleet-footed" seems to be a comparatively common expression according to the Google search engine (I am a nonspecialist, sorry again for not using language corpora etc....). It is used about (esp. fast) animals (a gazelle, but also a goat, and even a duckling), sportsmen and sport teams like sprinters or football/soccer players ("a fleet-footed runner", "fleet-footed Flyers" - nice alliteration! - , "fleet-footed France" - The Independent about the French football team in Euro 2012, etc.), about other persons like soldiers ("the fleet-footed soldier": Amos 2,15 in the NIV 2011 translation of The Bible) or police officers, about the Greek god Mercury and even about financial transactions („fleet-footed moves“ – made by the private fund managers).

(2) "Fleet-legged", on the other hand, is definitely by far less common (just a few hundreds of occurrances on the Google, and many of them from one and the same source, namely Rachel Carson). It seems to be used - today - mostly about fantastic creatures and beings in fairy tales or hero stories (flying horses etc.). I found one occurrance in the sports context, about a sprints champion („the fleet-legged star“), but just in one old newspaper (The Courier News 1941). In one (reliable) source is has been used about time („The great newspaper problems consist in an endeavour to outstrip fleet-legged time.“) and a well-known American writer Rachel Carson used it in her book „The Sense of Wonder“ (1963) about the ghost crabs ("… ghost crabs, those sand-coloured fleet-legged beings…“).

Is even the second form still convenient for use, acceptable in current English – I mean, could I still use it about, say a short-distance runner and not to sound ridiculous?

Thanks

David