Poorly licked bear, where does this expression come from?

In your environment, you are sure badly licked bear, such a person, a little rude, unfriendly and stingy with courtesy. The neighbor who never says hello, the colleague who is annoyed by your presence, the grouchy old uncle at family gatherings… you can even dress them up in this unflattering bear look! But do you know expression origin ?

Discover everything around metaphor for a badly licked bear and replace your knowledge at your next family dinner!

Badly licked bear: an expression from four centuries ago!

The phrase, as we know it today, denotes an “uncouth” person, not very sociable, even impolite. It goes back to the 18the century.
But a century agoimage of a badly licked bear already existed to summon an ugly child, a man with an ungrateful physique.

Both meanings have the same source: a legend from the 17th century.e century. This one tells that the she-bear, licking her cubs, still formless at birth, allows them to become real “finished” cubs.

Thus, initially a poorly licked bear was a physically “poorly completed” person, then, over time, he became boorish person whose education is not completed.

Poorly licked bears are not only French-speaking!

French not the only one who can handle the comparison. Let’s look at other countries.

If the Spaniards rather call the pig with the expression “badly eaten pig” (ser un cerdo mal cenado), then the Italians, like us, use the analogy between a rude man and a badly licked bear (essere un orso mal leccato).

The Dutch are satisfied with the image of a bear, not to mention licking, thanks to the formula “be a bad bear” (een ongeliktebeer zijn). Similarly, among the English we sometimes call “old big bear” (translation of old big bear) or simply “big bear”.

What about bears with cubs? Is the expression correct?

Yes and no ! It’s true that babies are born incomplete : naked, blind and toothless. They are completely dependent on their mother, like a human baby. At around 350 grams, the teddy bear doesn’t really have the shape of… a teddy bear!

This also applies to many baby animals, such as dogs, foxes, lions … Even kittens go through the stage of “shrimp” or “hamster”, which only remotely resembles a cat!

Therefore, we can consider that this plantigrade is born incomplete.
But this is not a lick it takes shape. This is with time and growth. Allusion to the character “poorly licked” therefore comes from the belief not reality.

Did you know ? To the middle IT HASe., the bear was the king of beasts before it was supplanted by the lion. He personified strength, invincibility and courage. Even today it is a totem animal among Native Americans, it is perceived as a healer.

Various French expressions associated with a bear

The bear is an animal that is generally perceived as friendly, just go to the plush section of a toy store to see one!

Various expressions therefore dedicated to him in French, they are more or less favorable to the animal.

  • Be like a caged bear: walk in circles both physically and mentally. We also say “like a lion in a cage”.
  • Selling a bear skin before it was killed: to assume that a person successfully completed his work before he was confident in it and actually finished.
  • Send to the bear: send for a walk, ask to be quiet.
  • Rely: discard.
  • The man who saw the man saw the bear: always beware of rumors. The origin cannot be verified.
  • Strong as a bear: be strong, physically impressive.
  • i would eat a bear : I am so hungry that I can swallow a huge amount of food (we also sometimes mention horse meat and beef in this context).

Some literature about a heavily licked bear

The expression does not age! It is found in both classics and modern writers. Some examples.

  • Jean de La Fontaine Danubian peasantXVIIe With. : “ His whole furry figure was like a bear, but poorly licked bear. »
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau confessions, XVIIIe With. : “We bonded by preference among the badly licked bears that surrounded us. »
  • Lev Tolstoy, War and PeaceXIXe With. : “I could never understand Natalie! Deciding to marry this terribly licked bear… »
  • Valentin Stergann, XXIe With. : Poorly licked bears tame each other at Christmas novel.

We rarely use the expression “badly licked bear” for a woman, we prefer to focus on more specific characteristics, denoting, for example, the fact that she has a snake tongue!

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