One-horse town

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Moley:

    My understanding (and I have no citations for this) is that it derived from a time when horses could be hired at inns/stables for onward travel, if you had no horse of your own. At such an establishment (perhaps the only one) in a small town, only one horse might be available, making it a “one-horse town”. The alternative, presumably, being Shanks’ Pony.

  2. Kate:

    My curiosity about this piece of idiom was stirred the other day while driving through the narrow and badly-paved roads of the English countryside. I was musing whether the term “one horse” applied to how many horses or horse-drawn vehicles could get down the narrow village streets. Some of them were so narrow that you had to drive up onto the pavement to get out of the way of oncoming traffic, while doing your best to dodge pedestrians. They’re beautiful little places, but you wouldn’t get much more than one horse at a time down the street!

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