Wednesday, 5 December 2012


I don't know about you but I find that 'one man's meat is another man's poison'. However, in the context of the phrase which is the subject of this piece, this should read 'One man's roquefort is another man's road kill'.

There is an archetypally British phrase used when someone has a piece of bad luck. The words of commiseration which I refer to are to say 'Hard Cheese'. 

Now I must confess that the phrase is heard less and less nowadays and perhaps only dinosaurs like me ever use it. Obviously the suggestion is that hard cheese is unpalatable and that presumably soft cheese is preferable but I know a number of people who would prefer some shavings of parmesan to a runny brie - one man's meat etc.

The earliest reference to the phrase appears to be from 1837 in a play called The Tiger at Large, which was printed in a collection of plays called The Acting National Drama, edited by Benjamin Webster.
"Jem. His wages was too low. Don't you think a pound a month, and find one's self is hard cheese?"

There is a more modern version in the form of 'hard cheddar' which has the same meaning and which dates back to 1931.

I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down the dusty  alleyways of our glorious language and if you didn't - 'hard cheese'.


1 comment:

  1. I always like a little "English" when I play pool LOL.. Hope you are staying warm