I'm reading "A Day No Pigs Would Die."

I’d just wound up running away from Edward Thatcher and running away from the schoolhouse. I was feathered if I was going to run away from one darn more thing.

what does the expression "I was feathered" mean? It seems that the word feather/feathering has a verb usage, but can I think that this is the verbalization of a noun?

I guess the context is that the character were inspiring himself to look back and confront something that he has been running away from. 'I ran away from Edward and school. If I ran further, I was ____."

this character may have a Vermont dialect, he also grew up on a farm, so he often use animals in his expressions, such as "bleeding like a stuck pig."

I would rather know the nuance of what impression the author wants to give the readers by writing so, than whether it is grammatically correct or not. The novel was written in 1928, so there is a possibility that it is an old expression, and since the author was 40 years old at the time, it is assumed that he understood that it was not a grammatically rigid expression and dared to use it. in addition, this character, Robert, was the worst in English class in this novel.

As a non-native English speaker, this is quite a difficult problem for me, but since this is my favorite novel, I would appreciate it if you could give me some nuances that I can visualize along with the etymology of the word.

thank you.

  • 1
    Look up “tar and feather”
    – Jim
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 2:31
  • 1
    I didn't know that there was such a kind of lynching, thanks. Is it close to "I'll be damned" in terms of nuance? Commented May 27, 2022 at 2:34
  • Yes. That’s exactly right.
    – Jim
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 2:36
  • Thank you so much! It was very useful. Commented May 27, 2022 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


It's what is known as a minced oath.

A minced oath is a euphemistic expression formed by deliberately misspelling, mispronouncing, or replacing a part of a profane, blasphemous, or taboo word or phrase to reduce the original term's objectionable characteristics. An example is "gosh" for "God".1

Examples of this include

  • "for crying out loud" instead of "for Christ's sake"
  • "Go fly a kite" instead of "go f*** yourself"
  • "darn it" instead of "damn it"

"I was feathered " is a substitution for "I was f*cked"

  • "I was fuc*ed if I was going to run away from one darn more thing" This does not sound right, the speaker was not heading for trouble or doomed, he made a promise not to run away from anything else. I feel it's closer to “I was damned if...”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 13:08
  • Thank you two! It helped me understand more. I will take into account the opinions of the three who answered my questions. Commented May 29, 2022 at 3:01

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