Tag Archives: Shanks’s pony

Cantering Through Cant (2)

Dipping into Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), here are a couple of variants of popular idioms that have, sadly, fallen out of favour.

One of the benefits of the Covid-19 pandemic is that it has encouraged many more of us to explore the benefits and delights of travelling by Shanks’s pony. To ride bayard on ten toes, according to Grose, is to walk on foot. Bayard, he suggests, was a horse famous in old romances.

Someone who has an unlimited fund of stories, shaggy dog or otherwise, or who talks ten to the dozen might be described as beating Banaghan. It is an Irish saying, Grose notes, of one who tells wonderful stories. Perhaps Banaghan was a minstrel famous for dealing in the marvellous, he surmises.