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A Little Bird Told Me – Idiom of the Day

Posted: January 13, 2021 at 1:24 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

A Little Bird Told Me – Idiom of the Day

(Also A Little Birdie Told Me)

Meaning:

This idiom is used to convey that the speaker knows something but chooses to(or has to) keep the identity of their informant secret.

Origin:

There are multiple possible origin stories for this expression. 

Some attribute it to Ecclesiastes 10:20 “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.” Another explanation is a simple allusion to carrier pigeons or other such messenger birds. 

John Heywood’s Proverbs (1562) gives an earlier expression: “I hear by one bird that in mine ear was late chanting”, and characterizes “a little bird told me” as the ‘modern’ version.”

Another origin story comes from a Norse legend, wherein  Sigurd could hear and understand the birds after he slayed the dragon Fafnir. The birds warned him that Regin would kill him. 

Usage:

  1. A little birdie told me it was your birthday today.
  2. Hey Boyd, a little bird told me you haven’t been nice to your friends lately.
  3. A little birdie told me you got caught for speeding yesterday.
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