Sent by Nancy H
An offer or deal that is foolishly accepted without being examined first.
'Don't buy a pig in a poke' might seem odd and archaic language. It's true that the phrase is very old, but actually it can be taken quite literally and remains good advice.
The advice being given is 'don't buy a pig until you have seen it'. This is enshrined in British commercial law as 'caveat emptor' - Latin for 'let the buyer beware'. This remains the guiding principle of commerce in many countries and, in essence, supports the view that if you buy something you take responsibility to make sure it is what you intended to buy.
A poke is a sack or bag. It has a French origin as 'poque' and, like several other French words, its diminutive is formed by adding 'ette' or 'et' - hence 'pocket' began life with the meaning 'small bag'. Poke is still in use in several English-speaking countries, notably Scotland and the USA, and describes just the sort of bag that would be useful for carrying a piglet to market.
Continue reading on Phrasefinder.
Copyright © Gary Martin, 1996 - 2016