Fatted calf idiom

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romelpanzer

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According to dictionary meaning, " to kill the fatted calf " means celebration to welcome someone long awaited, like a prodigal son. Before looking it into the dictionary, I was of the opinion that this idiom can be used for any joyous occasion which is out of the ordinary, like marriage of son/daughter or for that matter selection to a coveted job. But I have so far not seen it used for such occasion. Can somebody throw light on the correct usage of this idiom. Will it be correct if I say " You are invited to the wedding ceremony of my son where the fatted calf will be killed. Or, I will kill the fatted calf this evening to celebrate my son's selection for the UN job. ( Here also, I am not very sure, whether it should be selection to the UN job or selection for the UN job. Please clarify this, too. ) Thanks in advance.
 

Gillnetter

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The usage is fairly limited. The biblical reference is one of the few that I can think of.
 

BobK

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Not just 'one of the few' but the original. The OP's use of the phrase 'prodigal son' shows that s/he recognizes this context. People who use it (and there are some) have the original in mind - 'The Parable of the Prodigal Son'. For this reason, although 'kill the fatted calf' works, the (irregular) verb 'slay' is often used.

So when it is used idiomatically, it refers to the parable. I doesn't just mean 'have a lavish celebration' it means 'lay on a lavish celebration for - often on the occasion of the return of - someone who might be thought not to deserve it'.

b
 
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