In a Pig's Eye – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a defiant way to tell someone something will never happen? You could try the phrase “in a pig’s eye.”

This post explores the meaning and origin of this colorful slang phrase and shows you how to use it.


You can use the phrase “in a pig’s eye” to convey strong (and even bitter) disagreement. “In a pig’s eye” can mean “never,” “definitely not,” or “no chance in hell.”

“In a pig’s eye” is the most-commonly heard variation of this expression, but related sayings with the same meaning include:

  • In a pig’s ear.
  • In a pig’s ass.

Example Usage

Are you wondering how to use the curious expression “in a pig’s eye” in a sentence? These examples might inspire you:

  • “I’ve been working overtime for months already, and now the boss expects me to work on Christmas, too? In a pig’s eye!”
  • “I’ll lend my lazy brother more money in a pig’s eye. That’s just money down the drain. He’d never pay me back.”
  • “Maggie said I’d get along great with my new foster sibling. In a pig’s eye!”


The phrase “in a pig’s eye” is a disdainful way to say “no,” or “that will never happen.”

Its precise origins are unknown, but it first appeared in print as far back as 1872, when satirist David Locke used the phrase in a satirical column:

“A poetical cotashun which wuz — 'Kum wun, kim all, this rock shel fly From its firm base — in a pig's eye.”

Other variations of the phrase include “in a pig’s ear” and “in a pig’s ass.”

Some speculate that “in a pig’s ass” emerged first and that “in a pig’s ear” is simply a less offensive variation.

Others hold that “in a pig’s eye” is the original saying and that it is a form of rhyming slang. “When pigs fly,” an idiom that also means “never,” would be the inspiration in that case — “eye” rhymes with “fly.”

The expression “in a pig’s eye” isn’t as popular as it once was in the 21st century. It hasn’t completely fallen out of use, however, even with younger generations.

An Urban Dictionary entry defining “in a pig’s eye” as “a scoffing, derogatory ‘that ain’t gonna happen’” appeared as recently as 2007.

Interestingly, the phrase “pig’s eye” (on its own, within “in”) is also used to mean “cheap beer.”

Phrases Similar to in a Pig's Eye

Are you looking for other idioms or slang phrases like “in a pig’s eye,” meaning never? You could also say:

  • When hell freezes over — hell being notorious for eternally being rather hot.
  • When pigs fly — this related saying may even have inspired “in a pig’s eye.”
  • Fat chance.
  • Yeah, right.

Phrases Related to in a Pig's Eye

Other phrases that refer to pigs include:

  • As fat as a pig — meaning very fat.
  • Cast pearls before swine — meaning giving something to someone who will not appreciate it.
  • Like lipstick on a pig — meaning dressing up something ugly won’t make it any prettier.
  • Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear — meaning you can’t create something valuable with bad resources.

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “in a pig’s eye.” This slang expression means “never” or “no way.”

Ways People May Say in a Pig's Eye Incorrectly

“In a pig’s eye,” “in a pig’s ear,” and “in a pig’s ass” all have the same meaning. You can use them interchangeably.

The British expression “to make a pig’s ear of something” has a different meaning, though — use this saying to indicate that someone did a very bad job.

Acceptable Ways to Say in a Pig's Eye

You can use the phrase “in a pig’s eye” to decisively, and even scornfully, tell something that you’ll never do something or that something will never happen.

This slang phrase isn’t that popular anymore, so keep in mind that not everyone will understand you.


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