Woods colt
Posted: 16 July 2019 10:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I had never heard this expression until today, when I just heard it in an old western film. Is it strictly an American colloquialism?

OED

woods colt

n. U.S. colloquial a horse of unknown paternity; also, a foundling; an illegitimate child.

1895 Dial. Notes 1 395 Woods colt, foundling, Winchester, Ky.

1903 Dial. Notes 2 337 Woods colt, a horse of unknown paternity. Also applied to a person of illegitimate birth.

1913 H. Kephart Our Southern Highlanders xiii. 294 A bastard is a woods-colt or an outsider.

1959 W. Faulkner Mansion i. 4 Will Varner was going to have to marry her off..quick, if he didn’t want a woods colt in his back yard next grass.

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Posted: 17 July 2019 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, it seems to be an Americanism.

A search of Google Books easily antedates the term. I’ve found 1851 for the sense of a horse of unknown lineage, and 1885 for a physician with no formal training.

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Posted: 17 July 2019 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dave Wilton - 17 July 2019 05:03 AM

Yes, it seems to be an Americanism.

A search of Google Books easily antedates the term. I’ve found 1851 for the sense of a horse of unknown lineage, and 1885 for a physician with no formal training.

Thank you.

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Posted: 18 July 2019 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve never heard it this side of the pond, and I can’t see how it could ever have originated here. We do have wild ponies in Britain and Ireland, but nearly all of them live on mountain, moor and health land, not in woods. Also, even the genuinely wild pony herds belong to someone - on Dartmoor and Exmoor, for example, there is a round-up every year and the foals are branded with their owners’ marks before being released again. When local farmers wanted a pony they would take one off the moor, in preference to breeding one on the farm; not only was this cheaper, it was held that ponies born wild on the moor were stronger, hardier and surer-footed than ones born to domesticated parents. So there’s really no way that ‘woods colt’ could make sense in Rightpondian culture.

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