For the Birds

Meaning of Idiom ‘For the Birds’

If something is for the birds it is without value; undesirable; stupid; boring; foolish; ridiculous; unimportant; uninteresting; deserving of disdain. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Spears, https://amzn.to/2CEGuCz Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. McGraw-Hill, 2006.,3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,4Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition, 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Usage Notes

This phrase sometimes describes something that is only acceptable to people who are less intelligent or more gullible than oneself. It can be used in a wide variety of circumstances, however.

Examples Of Use

“Worrying about the climate is for the birds! It’s all made up!”

“Reality TV is for the birds. It’s far from reality.”

“Today’s music is for the birds. All this pop music sounds the same!”

“Let’s go look at the art exhibits downtown,” said Milly. “That’s for the birds. I’d rather sit around watching paint dry,” answered Fred.

“Homework is for the birds!”

“This new phone is for the birds. It keeps freezing up.”

Origin

Used since the early part of the 1900s.

It is usually claimed that this mostly American idiom alludes to birds extracting seeds from horse droppings, aka horse shit, something that would be deemed worthless by humans. Although this theory may seem to be the product of a fertile imagination, an earlier version of this expression was ‘shit for the birds.’

 

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