See a Man about a Horse – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you need to exit a social situation? Maybe you’re at a bar, and you feel it’s time to go, but you don’t want to appear like a “Debbie Downer” to your friends. If that’s the case, tell them you have to “see a man about a horse.”

Most people understand the meaning of this idiom, and they’ll realize you’re not feeling the current environment. It’s a great way to exit without going through the hassle of telling your friends you think it’s time to close off the evening.

You can use this phrase in many situations, but it’s only suited for everyday use. Asking your boss for the afternoon off and giving him the excuse of “I need to see a man about a horse” wouldn’t go over very well with them.

This post looks at everything you need to know about this idiom, its meaning, use cases, and origin.

See a Man About a Horse Meaning

To “see a man about a horse” is a polite way of removing yourself from a social engagement without causing a fuss to the people around you. We’ve all had the experience of telling your friends it’s time to go and their reaction of imploring you to stay.

To see a man about a horse can apply to many situations, and it’s also useful for when you don’t want to reveal the real reason for your exit. Maybe you want to see other friends or have a work engagement to get to across town. You could also use it as an excuse to get out of a social engagement or to excuse yourself to the toilet.

See a Man About a Horse Example Usage

There are plenty of ways you can use “see a man about a horse” in conversation. Here are a few examples.

  • Okay, friends, it’s time for me to see a man about a horse; I’ll see you all next time.
  • I’ve got to step out for a minute and see a man about a horse.
  • It’s been a great evening, but I’ve got to see a man about a horse.
  • I’d love to attend the study group this afternoon, but I’ve got to see a man about a horse.

See a Man About a Horse Origin

The earliest recorded use of the term comes from the 1866 play by Dion Boucicault, the “Flying Scud.” One of the characters wrangles himself out of a situation by stating, “I’ve got to see a man about a dog.” This phrase later formed the more popular version of “I need to see a man about a horse.”

During the times of prohibition in the United States, the phrase was common to tell someone that you were going to purchase alcoholic beverages.

Phrases Similar to See a Man About a Horse

  • I have to see a man about a dog.

You can add any object or person in place of the word “horse.”

Phrases Opposite to See a Man About a Horse

  • I am having a great time and want to stay.
  • I’m not leaving now.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • See a man about a horse.
  • Seeing a man about a horse.
  • See someone about a horse.

Ways People May Say See a Man About a Horse Incorrectly

Some people may use the phrase incorrectly or in the wrong scenario. The idiom is only suitable for use in an informal setting, not in formal situations.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase See a Man About a Horse

The idiom refers to making an excuse to vacate the premises, area, or group without causing more drama with the crowd.

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