expressions about owls

11 Interesting expressions about owls

Idioms and expressions about owls

The owl is a nocturnal raptor, a bird of prey that has been symbolic in many cultures for a very long time. It is known for its nighttime activities and big pupils that either scare or inspire folks that get to see them in real life.

The stunning look of owls with their large round eyes and the sounds that they make have led to many expressions in the English language. Here are some common and lesser-known idioms and expressions about owls along with some explanations and example sentences.


1- As wise as an owl

This simile is to say that a person is very wise and intelligent. It is one of the most common owl sayings and the idea of owls being wise dates back to at least ancient Greece. Athena was the goddess of war, strategy, and wisdom, the owl was also associated with Athena and was her patron animal.

Example – Old John knows all about the history of the world, he has studied it for years and is as wise as an owl.

2 – As smart as a tree full of owls

This owl saying is not very common but makes a lot of sense when we consider the previous expression about owls and wisdom. A lot of owls, a lot of brainpower! This probably originated amongst cowboys in the USA. Smart can also be substituted with wise or bright which have the same meanings.

Example – She was able to speak English only 3 months after arriving in London, she is as smart as a tree full of owls.

as wise as an owl expression

3 – To look like a tree full of owls

This expression about owls comes from the southern USA and means to look surprised or stunned. Again this one most likely comes from the big wide eyes of owls that can give them the look of being dumbfounded.

Example – When she heard the news about her lottery ticket, she looked like a tree full of owls.

4 -To be owled

This means to be drunk or heavily intoxicated after drinking too much alcohol. The big wide eyes of an owl can be associated with those of a person who looks out of their mind. There are many variations of this expression about owls, some of them include –

As stewed as an owl

As full as a boiled owl

To be like an owl in an ivy bush

Drunker than a hoot owl

Example – When he came home from the party he looked as stewed as a boiled owl!

as stewed as an owl expression

5 – I wasn’t brought up in the woods to be scared by owls

This owl expression is used to say that you are not easily afraid or intimidated by something. The most likely logic behind it is that if you grew up in the woods, you would be used to owls and not scared of them and their spooky sounds at night. Somebody who was brought up in the city would be much more fearful. In short, you are not afraid of things that would scare other people.

Understandably, the sounds that owls make are considered unnerving and have been so for a very long time. In ancient Rome, to hear the hoot of an owl was thought to signify imminent death. In the old testament of the bible, owls are also linked with negative things and uncleanliness.

Example – I’m not worried about walking around this city at night, I wasn’t brought up in the woods to be scared by owls.

6 – To bring or send owls to Athens

This means doing something that is a waste of time or just completely pointless. Back in the day, owl images were minted on coins in Athens, to bring them there, to the place they came from and could be found in abundance, would be a futile exercise. It would be like taking ice to the North Pole!

Example – Why would you give your rich sister money for her birthday? It’s like bringing owls to Athens!

send owls to Athens expression

7 – Crazier than a hoot owl

This is another owl saying from the USA. A hoot owl is a common name for the barred owl and the great horned owl, both of which live in North America. Both of these birds make bizarre sounds, especially at the time of year when they mate. Their strange sounds are probably why they became associated with craziness.

Example – I am about worried about old Tom, he’s been acting crazier than a hoot owl lately.

8 – A night owl

This owl expression is used to describe a person who stays up late at night. They usually spend a lot of their waking hours in the evening and do not wake up early in the morning. The opposite of this idiom is an early bird, a person who generally goes to bed and wakes up early.

Example – Suzy sleeps all day and spends all night on her computer, she is such a night owl!

a night owl idiom

9 – I don’t give a hoot

This is said to say that you do not care about something. A hoot is the English name for the noise an owl makes.

Example – My friend is angry at me for not lending her money, I don’t give a hoot because she doesn’t really need it!

10 – To be a hoot

This expression about an owl sound means to be a lot of fun or hilarious. It can be used to describe things, situations, and people. Another way it is said is a hoot and a half.

Example – We went to see a band downtown last weekend, it was such a hoot.

11 – To hoot someone down

This means to boo somebody by shouting because you don’t like them or what they are doing. It is most commonly used to say that people complain about people who are performing on a stage.

Example – The comedian’s jokes were not very funny and the crowd hooted him down.

to hoot someone down expression
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