by Marinka on August 27, 2012

I’m in the midst of an obsession that is threatening to take over my life.

I’ll back up and tell you about it so that we can share the psychosis.

So the other day I’m minding my own business, reading a Ruth Rendell mystery, Adam and Eve and Pinch Me (which despite this being an Amazon affiliate link, I do not recommend) when all of a sudden I come upon this sentence:

His almost uncanny success on the racecourse owed more to instinct and serendipity than knowledge of horseflesh.

Let me ask you, do you know what horseflesh is?

Because I didn’t, so I pressed the word on my Kindle and this popped up:

n. horses considered collectively.

Which incidentally is the problem with Kindles. Because if you are reading a paper book and see a word you don’t know, you’re all what the fuck, what is this a vocabulary lesson? Let me just go on to the next word that I DO know! Because that’s the American way.

But since I opened that Pandora’s dictionary box and sweet ignorance wasn’t an option, let me just say: seriously?

Why have I never heard of this? You’d think with all the pride of lions, murder of crows bullshit going around, someone would mention horseflesh.

But no.
It’s like there’s some kind of horseflesh conspiracy of silence. I blame the GOP.

So over the next few days, I asked people if they knew what a group of horses was called. And you know what? No one did. I got “a group of horses” “a bunch of horses” and, bizarrely, “troika.” But no one knew. No one. (Admittedly, I asked like 5 people, but it’s not like people are willing to stop and talk to me, you know. This isn’t my fault.)

And now I can’t stop trying to work horseflesh into conversation.

For example, “Sure, I’d go to the races, but I’m not that fond of horseflesh” and “wild horseflesh couldn’t drag me away.”

I’m determined to work horseflesh into the vernacular.

Hey, we all have our callings.

One year ago ...

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie Smirnov
August 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Horseflesh = snack for my husband. Though not a troika. Troikas are not bite-sized.


August 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

It’s not exactly a group of horses, though. “Horses considered collectively” doesn’t mean a collection of horses. That’s a herd. Horseflesh is used to indicate the category of horse-related dealings. As in, “that auctioneer sure knows his horseflesh.” If you know horseflesh, you know how to evaluate a horse expertly.

Don’t ask me how I know this. I actually know precious little about horseflesh.


Roshni August 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm

You consulted Wikipedia, didn’t you?!! 😛


Marinka August 28, 2012 at 7:22 am

Waitaminute! Hold your horseflesh! I’m not sure I see the difference between those two definitions. It’s the cures of being ESL, I guess. By the way, is anyone else getting hungry?


August 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I laughed. Out loud. Received my first horse at six years old, showed horses for over ten years, have been around them more years of my life than I haven’t, and I’ve never heard the term horseflesh. Why didn’t I know about this word back then? I could have made a real impression on the horse folk.


August 28, 2012 at 12:47 am

And here I thought Horseflesh was a new nickname for one of the Kardashians.


annie August 28, 2012 at 12:54 am

I think that’s horseFACE


August 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

I thought the word had been banned by the Beef lobby.

ALso, I had an English professor who on the first day of classes told us “One of the secrets to success in life is to USE A FUCKING DICTIONARY.”

I think he had some word-related issues.


magpie August 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

and i thought horseflesh was something they eat in france.


Phoenix Rising
August 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I have a meeting at work tonight. I’ll try to work horseflesh in… but I should tell you I’m more apt to use in it place of a cuss word because I’m not allowed to say those in public meetings anymore (especially the ones where reporters come and write down direct quotes to be printed in the local papers). Anyway, it’ll probably come out as “What a bunch of horseflesh!” or “What the horseflesh are you talking about?!” When used in this way, I believe your dream of working horseflesh into the vernacular can be easily achieved.


awesome dude August 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm

There is a super-modern and super avantgard Russian writer named Vladimir Sorokin.

One of his stories is called “Horse meat soup” where the hero hires prostitutes to eat the soup made of horse meat and so forth……

I feel that he is approaching the true understanding of this linguistic puzzle.


Deborah J August 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm

In France boucheries chevalines sell horseflesh…literally.

There, if you throw that in a conversation you are achieving your aim of being a linguistic expansionist, and will impress everyone as a nascent francophile.


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