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Is it "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick", or "better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick"?

I suspect that some sort of metaphor testing facility in the Discworld concluded that virtually anything was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but apart from that I'm not 100% certain.

Side question: is there a term for when a metaphor or cliche gets mutated?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Shorter dictionary of catch phrases (Rosalind Fergusson, 1994) has the blunt version.

book screenshot

A dictionary of slang and unconventional English: colloquialisms and catch phrases, fossilised jokes and puns, general nicknames, vulgarisms and such Americanisms as have been naturalised (E. Partridge and P. Beale, 2002) has both:

book shot

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The only way I've ever heard the expression is better than a sharp stick in the eye. Mileage will doubtless vary.

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Only way I've heard this is "better than getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick." The blunt-stick version cited by Partridge above makes more logical sense, but I've never encountered it. –  The Raven May 3 '11 at 10:45
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