As sick as a parrot!

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blueroman | 19:51 Fri 20th Mar 2009 | Phrases & Sayings
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Can anyone tell me where the expression "As sick as a parrot" comes from? I have heard one explanation to do with Spurs football team in 1919 and wondered if anyone can confirm this or have any other explanations. Your help is greatly appreciated.


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Sick as a parrot means �disappointed'. In footballers' language especially, it is the direct opposite of 'over the moon'. If you click = "here," target="_blank"rel="nofollow">"> here, that will link you to a web-page which explains 'sick as a dog' and also refers to the 'parrot' and other such versions.
Oh, for crying out loud! Here's an edited version of what the site I was trying to link to says...
"There are several expressions of the form sick as a ..., that date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sick as a dog is actually the oldest of them, recorded from 1705; it is probably no more than an attempt to give force to a strongly worded statement of physical unhappiness.
At various times cats, rats and horses have been also dragged in to the expression, though an odd thing is that horses can't vomit; one nineteenth-century writer did suggest that this version was used "when a person is exceedingly sick without vomiting".
The modern sick as a parrot recorded from the 1970s � at one time much overused by British sportsmen as the opposite of over the moon � refers to a state of deep mental depression rather than physical illness."
My apologies for earlier muck-ups.
Re Spurs...
There is a claim in Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Catch Phrases that the approving words, �Nice one!' - apparently coined by the writer Peter Mayle - first appeared in a Wonderloaf TV advertisement in 1972. In that, bakers used the words 'Nice one!' to congratulate each other on their loaves and the last baker named was Cyril...hence "Nice one, Cyril!"
Tottenham Hotspur football fans then took it up as a chant in support of their player, Cyril Knowles, and that then went on to be a Top Twenty song as sung by Cockerel Chorus.
After that, it was so widespread that it came to be used to show approval in all sorts of circumstances.
Just a thought, given that you said as a parrot was mainly seventies. Could that be a play on Monty Pythons parrot sketch at all - I mean, that really was sick!
Well, the Python parrot sketch was first broadcast in October 1969, so there could conceivably be a connection. On the other hand, the earliest recorded use of 'sick as a parrot' in print was in an edition of Private Eye published in February 1979. I'm tempted, therefore, to doubt the link, but who knows?
Well parrots are never sick,that why there's no tablets in the jungle. because the paracetamol..
Sorry to flog this ex-parrot of an answer by the way, but I'd heard that the origin came from the old (possibly wives tale) story that if a parrot is ill it sheds the majority of its feathers and looks far iller than it actually is - i.e. close to death.

Therefore, if you're as sick as a parrot you feel or look close to death over something.

Incidentally, I'm all for parrots' rights and the poor little things probably did lose all their feathers due to lack of good care before the RSPCA and whatnot got involved.
If it really is an old wives' tale, NCOT, it took a heck of a long time to make a public appearance! The dog version dates to 1705 in print, horse to 1765, cat to 1915 but no sign of the parrot until 1979.
I suspect, therefore, that the involvement of a poor featherless creature is just etymythology.
The 17th century female dramatist Aphra Behn used it in 1681 in her play "The False Count" - follow this link and search for the word Parrot and you'll see


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