Here is the phrase:

I'm going to get on a high horse here and say that it worries me that developers think client-side rendering is faster.

I think I can understand the meaning of the whole phrase, but I would like to know the specific meaning of this expression so as not to misuse it.

closed as off-topic by Dan Bron, Janus Bahs Jacquet, FumbleFingers, Drew, Chenmunka Nov 19 '14 at 15:02

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  • It's an idiom; you should Google for "high-horse" idiom. Here's one definition that search returns. Bear in mind that in general it's not possible to deduce the meaning of an idiom (a fixed phrase) from its component words. You must recognize you're dealing with an idiom and look up the phrase as a unit. – Dan Bron Nov 18 '14 at 17:19
  • The idiom means that the speaker, at the risk of sounding arrogant, snooty, highfaluting, hoity toity, and so on, will venture to state his humble opinion anyway. Another way of saying the same thing is the idiom "In my humble opinion . . .." In other words, one's opinion may seem to others to be anything but humble. It may even give others the impression that you're getting on your high horse! – rhetorician Nov 18 '14 at 17:35
  • Somewhat related: "Where do you get off...?" Origin – Sven Yargs Nov 18 '14 at 17:38
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    As no-one else seems to have mentioned it, I feel I should point out that idiomatically it's almost always get on your (my, his, etc.) high horse. It's far from unknown, but the indefinite article get on a high horse sounds at least slightly odd to me (that's just a UK perspective - I don't know about AmE). – FumbleFingers Nov 18 '14 at 17:47
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    Just be sure you don't confuse get on a high horse with get high on a horse or, worse yet, get high on a high horse. In the last case, both you and the horse are taking a chance (though perhaps having a good time). – Drew Nov 18 '14 at 21:50

As Dan Bron's comment points to, the basic definition of "getting on one's high horse" is:

Behaving arrogantly and pompously

(from Dictionary.com)

However, sometimes understanding meaning does not necessarily translate into wise or effective usage, and the example deserves some explanation.

In fact, the instance quoted in the question (from http://openmymind.net/2012/5/30/Client-Side-vs-Server-Side-Rendering/) should not be taken as the most common application, for two reasons:

1) we most commonly see this expression phrased as to get on one's high horse, not "get on a high horse"

2) almost all of the instances of this idiom that you will find (in speech and writing) come in critical reference to the behavior, attitude, assertions, soap-boxisms, etc. of another person, as opposed to oneself

In the quotation in question, it is used (atypically) to preempt accusations of arrogance or pedantry.


I'm assuming your usage is from here; I wanted to get a little more context. The author is recognizing that his comments may be perceived as conceited, since he is accusing web developers of not understanding a basic aspect of their work.

The basic high horse idiom has been linked in comments above, but I thought it would be beneficial to parse it as the author used it.

(This question might also benefit from moving to ELL.)

  • I understand why many perceive questions like this to be more suitable for ELL, but I think they provide fertile ground for an exploration not just of meaning (ascertainable to a certain extent through common dictionary sources), but of usage, currency, context, register, and syntax. – Rusty Tuba Nov 18 '14 at 17:40
  • @Rusty: Those considerations are equally if not more relevant to ELL. The base assumption on ELU is usually that querants already know how English is actually used, so it's not necessarily worth bothering to point out that some usage is dated, formal, or whatever. But it's implicit in the site scope that learners on ELL don't know such things, even though they're obviously important. – FumbleFingers Nov 18 '14 at 17:52
  • I find it problematic to divide users into those who know how English is "actually used" and those who don't know. There are many active non-native English-speaking contributors who have much greater insight into the language (and provide better scholarship) than many native English-speaking contributors. The mere existence of this site demonstrates lack of consensus among those who apparently "know." – Rusty Tuba Nov 18 '14 at 18:01

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