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The question " Past tense of "to wing"? " got me thinking about terms we use in the English language that derive from parts of an animal, especially verbs or verb phrases, like 'wing it' or 'hoof it'.

There are many noun and adjective phrases that use animal parts, like 'on the horns of a dilemma', so I'm more curious about verbs and verb phrases, but all entries are welcome.

(-1 to anyone who proffers 'udder despair'!)

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    Pretty much anything an animal does? Root, fly, caw, screech, scamper, molt. I guess I don't understand what qualifications you are using. – MrHen Mar 28 '11 at 20:07
  • Not what an animal does that a human can mimic, I'm looking for animal parts (nouns), 'wing', 'hoof', 'feather', etc., that are used as verbs (or other parts of speech) to describe what humans do. – oosterwal Mar 28 '11 at 20:21
  • Ah, okay. Are these better: Feather, claw, tail (including hightail)? – MrHen Mar 28 '11 at 20:28
  • @MrHen: Yes, those are all great examples (although one might argue that 'claw' is an action that animals do that humans mimic.) – oosterwal Mar 28 '11 at 20:30
  • Udder despair, udder despair, udder despair. Now try to downvote this comment thrice. I'll wait. :P – RegDwigнt Mar 29 '11 at 11:28
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Some of these are pushing the definition, I'm sure, but... You can:

  • hightail it out of here.
  • beef something up (or have a beef with someone).
  • nose around.
  • feather your nest.
  • shank a ball.
  • paw someone.
  • go into hock.
  • ham it up.
  • keep abreast of something.
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A detective may tail a suspect.

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