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...Stick Together

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Hey, Little Birdies!

Certain species of birds remain for the snow-covered months of winter, however, we all know it well that most birds fly south this time of year. We see it rather frequently in nature: birds of a single species forming in flocks. In fact, they often form in such dense clusters that they create these morphing sort of sinuous shapes when seen from a distance. We refer to these beautiful, flowing shapes as ‘murmurations’. 

There are countless turns of phrases and old sayings for us to look into to find out why we say things like ‘Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth’ and ‘Dead as a Doornail’. These sayings are deeply embedded into our everyday speech; you probably don’t even know it when you’re using one. Today we’re taking a look at the phrase ‘Birds of a Feather Flock Together’.

Whether the Feather…
While borrowed from a fact of nature, we’re typically not talking about birds when we use this phrase, but people. It’s a sort of catchy way of saying that people with similar interests tend to hang out together. For instance, fans of Harry Potter tend to hang out with other fans of Harry Potter. It makes sense—similarities give us something to talk about.

Phrase Origin:
A similar statement can be found in a translation of ‘The Republic’—the ancient Greek work from Plato. Some people questioned if this phrase originated back then when Plato was alive, however, the phrase was almost assuredly used in the translation—not the original work. The first use of the phrase seems to come from about 500 years back when one William Turner put down in a written work from 1545, “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”

Phrase Popularization:
No one knows how popular this phrase was before the 16th Century, but since its coining, it’s skyrocketed in popularity. Of course, it always helps a phrase when it’s used in a Christmas Song. Such a launching pad was set in place for this phrase in 1947 when the song Sleigh Ride was written, putting together in the lyrics:

“Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy and cozy are we
We're snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be”

This has been our last Adage Origin Blog post for the year. Come on back next year when we return to continue our Blog series of Adage Origins. As always, thanks for reading, Folks!


- John

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