What Does I’m So Hungry I Could Eat a Horse Mean?

I’m So Hungry I Could Eat a Horse Meaning

Definition: I am extremely hungry.

Sometimes elephant appears as a substitute for horse in this idiom.

Origin of So Hungry I Could Eat a Horse

This sentence is an example of a hyperbole. A hyperbolic statement is a greatly exaggerated statement that a person uses in a non-literal manner. Because a horse is a giant animal, of course it would be impossible for any human being to eat an entire horse, regardless of how hungry that person was.

The earliest examples of this expression, some of which appear as far back as the 1700s, appear as [one is] so hungry [one] could eat a horse behind the saddle. Different sources interpret this in various ways. Some believe it means that the person is so hungry he could eat the horse through his saddle. Others believe that it means he could eat the horse’s rear end, which would be distasteful. However, there is no clear consensus.

There are various examples throughout history of Western culture being averse to consuming horsemeat. Some primary sources even compare eating dogs as favorable to eating horses. It is unclear why horses are not popular as meat. Perhaps it is because they are seen as hardworking farm animals and as useful weapons on a battlefield.

Examples of So Hungry I Could Eat a Horse

so hungry could eat a horse

The first dialogue shows a brother and sister discussing what to eat for lunch.

Luke: So, I could make us some risotto or lasagna.

Ella: I love both of those types of food, but I’m starving. Right now I prefer to eat something that is fast and easy to cook, rather than something that will be extra delicious but take an hour or longer.

Luke: I could make a can of soup.

Ella: That’s not good enough either. That’s way too small. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse! Maybe we should just order two large pizzas!

Luke: Great idea! I’ll order online now.

hungry like a horseThe second example shows two friends who are getting brunch together.

Ray: I’ve never been to this place before. Is it any good?

Ricardo: Oh, yeah! It’s amazing. The food is tasty, and the best part is they give you huge portions.

Ray: Perfect! I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about weekly batch cooking.

  • And finally, there are the menus: ‘Baby shower brunch for a crowd with breast-feeding mums who could eat a horse’ and ‘dinner for four when you want to show off a bit but not stress’. –Metro

This excerpt is from an article about ways to measure spaghetti.

  • We’ve all whined this particular whine to a parent or loved one before, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” Setting aside for a moment the fact that you absolutely could not (first, it’s nearly impossible to get horse meat in the US and second, you have no idea how much meat is on a horse), we understand the feeling. –Huffington Post

Summary

The phrase I’m so hungry I could eat a horse is a hyperbolic expression much like I’m starving. It means to be ravenous.

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