Submitted by Warsaw Will on May 22, 2013

Fit as a butcher’s dog

Has anybody come across the idiom “Fit as a butcher’s dog”, and if so, is it mainly confined to the North of England? Eric Partridge suggests it originates from Lancashire, but it seems to be used in Yorkshire as well. Also, is it usually used only with the meaning of physically fit, or is its use extending to the other (British) meaning of fit - sexually attractive?


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Had not heard of that phrase until now
will definitely use it for its latter aforementioned meaning

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It is an expression I knew as a child, raised in the south of England, 50 years ago. Fit as a butcher's dog meand physically fit, the butcher's dog being well fed. I have certainly never heard in used in the 'fit girl' context.

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Although (being not from any part of England) I have never heard the expression, it seems fairly straightforward and apt. Incidentally, I believe that the expression would be called a "simile," rather than an "idiom." The latter being an expression that seems odd if interpreted literally, unless you are already familiar with its meaning, such as "touching base" or "bending over backwards."

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@SinTax'ed Enough - I take your point about it being a simile, but I wonder if you'd have found it quite as straightforward if you hadn't read Graeme's comment first; it certainly didn't hit me that way when I first heard it. My first thought was that a butcher's dog is as likely to be overfed as particularly fit.

It is also peculiar to one part of England, and unknown (and not necessarily obvious, it seems) to many Brits, so I think there's a case to be made for also calling it idiomatic. Here's one comment on an idioms wiki - 'Of course the idioms wiki also has a flaw, namely the phrase "fit as a butcher's dog". I have no idea what it means. I might have to scour every idioms dictionary on the internet for it because it makes no sense to me at all'

And 'fit' in its sexual connotation, which is how I first heard this expression, is certainly idiomatic - In British English, 'She's well fit' has nothing to do with going to the gym.

At least I'm not alone in calling it an idiom; the excellent website for English learners,, lists it as such.

Here are a few more as ... as ... constructions that seem to me to qualify as idioms:

as clean as a whistle
as cool as a cucumber
as easy as pie
as pleased as punch
as right as rain
as sick as a dog
as mad as a hatter

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