The saying, “A pig in a poke” quoted in Maureen Dowd's article in New York Times (August 10) referring to Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks in Presidential campaign debate (See https://english.stackexchange.com/users/3119/yoichi-oishi?) reminded me of a popular Japanese proverb – Yoto kuniku, which is a direct translation of Chinese proverb, gua yan tou mai gourou-“sell dog meat by displaying the head of lamb at the store-front,” meaning a crooked business practice.

I think “A pig in a poke” and “sell dog meat by displaying the head of lamb” are similar in spirit, however, the former hides the pig, the latter on the contrary shows off a false bait, namely false description of contents in legal terms.

Are there any English counterparts to Japanese / Chinese saying, “Sell dog meat by displaying the head of lamb”?

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    This practice is called bait and switch but I can’t think of a saying that advises someone on how to do it. – Jim Aug 11 '15 at 2:45
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  • "Sell a bill of goods" word-detective.com/2013/05/bill-of-goods – user662852 Aug 17 '15 at 15:55
  • I always suspected things about the local Chinese takeaway, but I never knew they had an expression about it! :) – Wolfie Inu Nov 17 '15 at 12:50
  • The point about the pig in the poke is that it might not be a pig at all. The seller tells the buyer it's a pig and he buys it without checking. – RedSonja Apr 11 '17 at 7:56

Bait-and-switch is a common expression for appearing to offer one thing yet selling another.


The nearest I can think of is window dressing, the second meaning:

the act of decorating and arranging products to display in a store window

something that is intended to make a person or thing seem better or more attractive but that does not have any real importance or effect

Merriam Webster


This reminds me a little of mutton dressed as lamb which can result in a slap in the face if said within earshot of any number of 'older' females.

protected by tchrist Feb 5 '17 at 0:11

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