Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 09:44:44 CDT


Subject: Knee High

Like others, knee high to a grasshopper, was most familiar to me in

Kansas. Maybe it's because we had so many hoppers.

I've looked through Peter Tamony's files on the phrase and his notes

lead to several other interesting examples, as follows:

"Who was it kilt that danged black bull of Pete Darby's, away back

that when the devil warn't no more than knee high to a toad frog?"

Thames Williamson, The Woods Colt, A Novel of the Ozark Hills, New

York, 1933, page 6.

"Swinging Indian clubs filled the interludes, and two or three artists

at this business won applause, particularly a 'knee high to a load'

boy, who was an expert of the first water." The Spirit of the Times,

New York, 24 March 1877, page 179, column 2.

R. H. Thornton, An American Glossary, London, 1912. Gives a number of

variations such as knee high to a bantam, to a duck, and to a toad.

Slang and Its Analogues has knee high to a mosquito, to a toad, to a

chaw of tobacco, and others.

Carey Woofter, "Dialect Words from West Virginia," American Speech,

May 1927, records knee high to a duck and to a grasshopper.

Chancey M'Govern, Sarjint Larry An' Friends, Manila, P.I., 1906, page

95. "Well, sirr, not since I was a shirt-tail kid not knee-high to a

lame duck . . . "

Randy Roberts

University of Missouri-Columbia