Think in English with Adah

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A Phrase A Week: To make a pig’s ear of something


This phrase does not relate to the ears of a pig which is a cold dish found in many cuisines around the world.

If you make a pig’s ear of something, you make a mess of it.

 “Look at all the mess the brothers have made. What a festival!”


‘To make a pig’s ear’ is a mid 20th century phrase and means ‘completely botch something up; make a complete mess of it’. This is first found in print in a 1950 edition of the Reader’s Digest:

“If you make a pig’s ear of the first one, you can try the other one.”

The expression derives from the old proverb ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, which dates from the 16th century.


1.      I was filing back some documents and would you believe it, I made a right pig’s ear of it, I misfiled everything.

2.      I made so many spelling mistakes on my document that I made a t pig’s ear of it. My boss got mad. He asked me if I had ever heard of a spell checker.

Even when you have made a pig’s ear of it, stay cool and don’t forget to smile.

November 21st, 2011 Posted by adah at 07:19pm | Fun English Phrases | no comments

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