ns hear my older coworkers use this idiom/phrase occasionally. The seems perhaps to be a humorous method to get out the a conversation. Even as a indigenous bsci-ch.org speaker, I"ve never determined the exact instance you would usage this phrase. It almost sounds favor it may have actually once to be a punchline come a hoax in a movie or something.

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

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



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

The earliest confirmed publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault beat Flying Scud in i beg your pardon a character knowingly breezes previous a challenging situation saying, "Excuse me Mr. Quail, ns can"t stop; I"ve got to view a man about a dog." In a listing for a 1939 renewal on the NBC Radio program America"s lost Plays, Time newspaper observed that the expression is the play"s "claim come fame".

Wiktionary adds:

The most usual variation is to "see a man around a horse". Practically any noun deserve to be substituted together a way of offering the hearer a hint about one"s function 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 much shorter variant is come "see a man".

As to the exact case in which friend would usage this phrase, it suggests:

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

Back come Wikipedia again,

During ban in the unified States, the phrase was most frequently used in relationship to the consumption or acquisition of alcoholic beverages.

World wide Words has added info:

This has been a advantageous (and usefully vague) excuse for absenting oneself from company for around 150 years, though the genuine reason because that slipping away has not always been the same. <...> From other references at the time over 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 a an in similar way urgent should visit his mistress.

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Of these reasons <...> the second became the most usual sense throughout the ban period. Currently that society’s conventions have actually shifted to the point where none of these reasons need reason much remark, the utility of the expression is greatly diminished and it is most regularly used in a facetious sense, if at all.