A British or Irish idiom dating to the early 1800’s or earlier.
Talk the hind legs off a dog. (Possibly Australian)
Talk the legs off an iron pot. (Possible Australian)
Meaning Of Idiom ‘Talk the Hind Legs Off a Donkey’
Like the similar idiom to talk someone’s ear off, to talk the hind legs off a donkey means to talk incessantly and to the point that the listener is exhausted. To talk on and on without letting up.
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The word leg can be plural or singular.
“Old man Howard is amiable enough, but he could talk the hind legs off a donkey.”
“I’m amazed the office ever gets anything done. Our manager could talk the hind legs off a donkey.”
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms “talking a horse’s hind leg off” was already considered an old expression by 1808 (Cobbet’s Weekly Political Register), so a form of this idiom may have existed prior to 1800. It is difficult to be sure of its origin.
Possibly from Ireland, it has been suggested that the expression refers to the fact that horses or donkeys do not usually sit down on their behinds. So, to talk the hind legs off a donkey or horse is to talk so long that the animal becomes exhausted and collapses. The hind legs do not “fall off” as in the related idiom “to talk someone’s ear off” but they “lose their legs” as someone who has fainted or collapsed.
The variation ‘talk the hind legs off a dog’ may be Australian, as well as the even more hyperbolic ‘talk the legs off an iron pot.’
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- Talk the Bark Off a Tree
- Talk Someone’s Ear Off
- Talk Nineteen to the Dozen
- Talk A Blue Streak