Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 09:44:44 CDT
From: Randy Roberts robertsr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]EXT.MISSOURI.EDU
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 . . . "
University of Missouri-Columbia
robertsr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ext.missouri.edu