high on the hog


Definition: doing something extravagantly 

Example: After a small win on the lottery, the Johnsons have been living high on the hog. They eat out at Burger King now rather than McDonalds.


High on the hog‘ is usually preceded by  ‘living‘ or more rarely ‘eating‘. There are a few of theories as to its origin, but one seems more widely accepted than the others.

  1. Meat was not eaten as often as it is in recent times. It was expensive, and for working families, a treat rather than an everyday meal. So, somebody who was ‘high‘ on the ‘hog‘ was eating a lot of pork, and by deduction, must have money to spend.
  2. Piglets that suckle from the upper row of teats generally grow bigger and stronger than their lower row brethren. Apparently this is true, something to do with milk flow. Ask a vet if you want to know more. So, those thriving piglets are ‘high on the hog‘.
  3. The most widely accepted genesis is to do with the cuts of pork. The choicest ones come from the upper parts of the pig. These were the most expensive, and eaten by the middle and upper classes. The lower cuts; the belly, legs, and trotters were cheaper and eaten by the working classes.

Apparently there is an opposite phrase: living ‘low on the hog‘, but Iddy’s never heard it used before. He certainly wouldn’t want to be enacting that one.

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