In the foreword for a knitting book there's this passage:

Knitting has become as ubiquitous as the humble sheep.

Which is followed by a couple more sentences on how great it would be to learn how to knit etc. I've googled "the humble sheep", and haven't had any success.

Is the phrase roughly equivalent to "Wool is everywhere nowadays, and wherever there's wool, there's knitting"?


There are many sheep in the world, and sheep are meek and serve humans by giving us lots of good things, so we call them humble. The expression simply means that knitting is now very common, just like the sheep. Sheep are mentioned here because this book is about knitting and we get wool for knitting from them, and it's nice to juxtapose them in the expression; there is really nothing more to the interpretation.

  • Alright then, thank you. I'm just fuzzy on this particular meaning of the word humble. – Francis Drake Oct 20 '16 at 0:11
  • @FrancisDrake low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly .... is the relevant humble definition I think – k1eran Oct 20 '16 at 0:41
  • @k1eran sheep give us lots of good things, so we call them (low in rank, importance, status, quality),— imo, this substitution shows that this is not the case. It rather seems that humble here is a non-meaning word. LIke, when you say "it is worth nothing, that ...", you're not really saying anything about worth. It's just a rhytmical filler. Humble seems that way here. – Francis Drake Oct 20 '16 at 1:06
  • @FrancisDrake Knitting has become as ubiquitous as the lowly sheep. That sounds ok to my ears. – k1eran Oct 20 '16 at 1:15
  • @k1eran doesn't change anything, though. The non-meaning remains. Does "common sheep" sound natural? Different? – Francis Drake Oct 20 '16 at 19:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.