What's the origin of the phrase "WHEN PIGS FLY"?
Here's an attempt to satisfy the teenaged heir to the legacy of mrlucky, Mak Dolnick. The Makster wants to know the origin of the phrase, "When pigs fly".
To the Oxford English Dictionary we return, where the aeronautic properties of swine are first cited in Clerk’s Withal Dict. Eng & Lat. The year is 1616 when he reports the observation, "Pigs fly in the aire with their tailes forward." This same statement, identified now as a proverb, appears in a couple of other 17th century tomes. mrlucky is unsure of exactly what bit of practical wisdom is idealized in this expression.
The proverb has evolved by 1860 to, "Pigs may fly; but they are very unlikely birds." Who among us can argue with this sapient observation?
Then, in 1865, the mathematician Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson writes, "I’ve a right to think," said Alice sharply..."Just about as much right," said the Duchess, "as pigs have to fly." Of course, you probably know the author as Lewis Carroll. The cited book is Alice In Wonderland. This usage is the first that explicitly implies the meaning ‘never’ to the notion of pigs flying.
Tails forward or not.