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Welcome to the Greenwood.Net Curiosity Corner

Going whole hogg

Feb 20, 2018

Curiosity Corner
Dr. Jerry D. Wilson,
Emeritus Professor of Physics
Lander University

QUESTION: We use the expression "going whole hog" to mean doing something completely or thoroughly. What does this have to do with pigs?

REPLY: Well, this is why I like writing the Curiosity Corner – I learn a lot in the process. While looking into this question, I found a difference in the definitions of pig and hog.

Both are swine (family Suidae), but the distinction is that a hog is a domesticated swine weighing 120 lbs. or more, usually raised for market; while a pig, on the other hoof, is a young domesticated swine weighing 120 lbs. or less. In Great Britain, all swine are called pigs. (Then there are boars – usually wild, with different characteristics than domestic swine.)

In any case, the phrase "going whole hog" apparently doesn't refer to pigs or hogs, but rather to sheep. In Britain, a "hogg" is a young sheep not yet shorn. In early times, some farmers chose not to shear their hoggs completely because the fleece was very short and difficult to cut. Other farmers chose to "go whole hogg" and sheared the entire sheep. It looks like a "g" got dropped from hogg over here in the Colonies at some point. Personally, I just try to live "high on the hog" as best I can.

Since that was a short one, I'll clean out my file of trivia and such. It’s very educational!

• Arctophile: a person very fond of (and usually a collector of) teddy bears.
• Semordnilap: closely related to a palindrome (in which the letters read the same backwards as forwards, for example, "Madam, I'm Adam”). But, for a semordnilap, the reverse text must make a different word: "diaper" becomes "repaid,” "desserts" becomes "stressed,” and "tums" (for the tummy) becomes "smut.”

And finally, only in America:
• do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes up front (in the stores that still sell them).
• do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries and diet cokes.
• do banks leave their safe doors open and chain the pens to the counters.
• do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our junk in the garage.
• do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten, while buns come in packages of eight.

But, I'm proud to be an American...

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): Those who fail history class are doomed to repeat it. –Anon

Curious about something? Send your questions to Dr. Jerry D. Wilson, College of Science and Mathematics, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649, or email jerry@curiosity-corner.net. Selected questions will appear in the Curiosity Corner. For Curiosity Corner background, go to www.curiosity-corner.net.

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