i hear my older coworkers use this idiom/phrase occasionally. It seems perhaps to it is in a humorous method to obtain out the a conversation. Even as a indigenous ptcouncil.net speaker, I"ve never determined the exact case you would usage this phrase. It nearly sounds favor it may have actually once to be a punchline to a hoax in a movie or something.

You are watching: I need to see a man about a horse

I"m curious what is the precise meaning/usage that this phrase/idiom? wherein does the originate?


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Wikipedia actually has actually an article dedicated to this phrase. The says:

The earliest shown publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault beat Flying Scud in i m sorry a personality knowingly breezes previous a difficult situation saying, "Excuse me Mr. Quail, i can"t stop; I"ve obtained to view a man around a dog." In a listing for a 1939 revival on the NBC Radio regime America"s lost Plays, Time magazine observed that the phrase is the play"s "claim to fame".

Wiktionary adds:

The most typical variation is to "see a man around a horse". Practically any noun deserve to be substituted together a method of giving the hearer a hint about one"s objective in departing. The inversion come "see a dog about a man" eliminates any type of lingering uncertainty about whether the hearer is being put off. A shorter variant is to "see a man".

As come the exact instance in which girlfriend would usage this phrase, the suggests:

Used as an excuse for leaving without giving the real reason (especially if the reason is to walk to the toilet, or to have actually a drink)

Back to Wikipedia again,

During ban in the united States, the phrase was most generally used in relation to the usage or purchase of alcoholic beverages.

World vast Words has added info:

This has actually been a helpful (and usefully vague) excuse for absenting oneself from firm for about 150 years, despite the actual reason because that slipping away has not always been the same. <...> From various other references at the moment there were three possibilities: 1) essential to visit the loo <...> 2) he remained in urgent require of a restorative drink, presumed alcoholic; or 3) he had actually a an in similar way urgent must visit his mistress.

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Of these factors <...> the second became the most usual sense during the ban period. Currently that society’s conventions have shifted to the suggest where none of these factors need cause much remark, the energy of the phrase is considerably diminished and it is most often used in a facetious sense, if in ~ all.