Fine-feathered friend

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3 comments on this post.
  1. Tal Streeter:

    I grew up thinking that this phrase described birds as our “fine-feathered friends” and riled against the horribly human reality reading in High School, Darwin’s description in Voyage of the Beagle: arriving on the Galapagos, the sailors at first laughing at the “tame” birds landing on the handles of their drinking cups, then killing them. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have these fine-feathered creatures as our friends. I’m going to continue a bit longer with my long-held misreading of the phrase. I very much appreciate having access to this site. And Robert Patlock’s book—something to look into!

  2. julian sf:

    oftentimes, i think popular usage of certain terms points to a meaning of many expressions whose origins have been lost in time.

    my mother was born and raised in new england in the early 1900′s. her english was pure colloquial language inasmuch as she had little formal education. however, she spoke a refinely accented version that probably originated in east anglia at the time of the pilgrim migration. i can remember her using the expression “my fine-feathered friend” to convey someone who was putting on a front (fine feathers) and acting in an inappropriately grand manner. this meaning fits with the usage in popular songs and the tom and jerry cartoon of 1942 where there is a bit of sarcasm and double entendre intended. when she directed the expression toward my brother or me, we knew she was saying, “and who do you think you are, my fine-feathered friend?”

  3. Pops Sloan:

    I have been told that this phrase referred to the plumage worn by the wealthy back in the 1400-1500′s. I do not know but it seems likely.

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