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August 26, 2011


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Clams can be happy around me, as they are truly safe even dripping butter.

Camille Minichino

Love the post, Peggy. I'll never look at (or eat) a clam the same way again.

I'm green with envy at your Cape trip!

Susan C Shea

Clever riff on the topic, Peggy! Well done. I have happy memories of childhood spent clam digging in that area. Lucky you.


It was probably a cliche when it hit print, since the saying's been around since the 1630s...

I've read sources that claim it's an Americanism, but we don't have the expression "high water," it's fallen out of use...

This "happy as" phrase always seems to contain an element of mockery or self-contradiction. The phrase we learned in the central valley was "happy as a pig in s*&%," which of course doesn't sound very appetizing.

Like hoi polloi, which is used ironically so often that some people think it means its opposites.

turning a cliche on its head (hey, that's a cliche!) is fun, but I can only think of unworksafe ones :)


er, "opposite"


The Luck of the Irish were with you on your trip (pardon the cliche...)! Great timing and it sounds lovely. As for clams, they can be as happy as they want to be around me since I almost never eat them...but butter doesn't sound bad!

Margaret Lucke

Thanks, everyone! Mysti, I appreciate the 1630s date. I knew the phrase was much older than 1830, but I couldn't find a date.

After coming upon "happy as a clam in butter sauce," I was surprised not to see "happy as a clam in chowder." That's the kind of clam that makes me happy. :-)


Thanks, Peggy, for a fun look at a common phrase and another great reference to add to my collection! Checked out Google books and downloaded a free pdf of "Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States" (1848). I'm as happy as a ... oh, never mind. ;-)

rita lakin

Peg delightful as always.

Cape Cod rental

Love the post. I love "clam watching" when I am on Cape Cod. Just seeing everyone digging away. Thanks to this post, I will be laughing the next time I am there and watching people go clamming.

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