Etymology
Advertisement
horse sense (n.)
1832, American English colloquial, from horse (n.), perhaps in referfence to the animal's qualities, or to the abilities of hostlers and coachmen with the animals, perhaps from the same association of "strong, large, coarse" found in horseradish.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
high horse (n.)
originally (late 14c.) "fine, tall horse; war horse, charger" (high steed is from c. 1300), also, like high hall, used in the sense "status symbol;" figurative sense of "airs, easily wounded dignity" in mount (one's) high horse "affect airs of superiority" is from 1782 (Addison has to ride the great horse in the same sense, 1716). Compare French monter sur ses grands chevaux. "The simile is common to most languages" [Farmer].
Related entries & more 
charley horse (n.)
1887, sporting slang, origin obscure, probably from somebody's long-forgotten lame racehorse. Charley horse seems to have been a name for a horse or a type of horse (perhaps especially a lame one) around that time.
Related entries & more 
cheval de frise (n.)

1680s, from French, literally "horse of Frisia," supposedly because it was first employed there as a defense against cavalry (at the siege of Groningen); from French cheval "horse" (see cavalier (n.)). Plural chevaux de frise.

Related entries & more 
aurora borealis (n.)

1620s, "Northern Lights," literally "northern dawn," said to have been coined by French philosopher Petrus Gassendus (1592-1655) after a spectacular display seen in France Sept. 2, 1621; see aurora + boreal. In northern Scotland and among sailors, sometimes called the dancers, pretty dancers, or merry dancers. Related: Aurora australis (1741).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
soap opera (n.)
"melodramatic radio serial" (later extended to television), 1939; so-called because sponsors often were soap manufacturers, from earlier horse opera "a Western" (1927). Shortened form soap for this first attested 1943.
Related entries & more 
grand prix 
1863, French, literally "great prize," originally in English in reference to the Grand Prix de Paris, international horse race for three-year-olds, run every June at Longchamps beginning in 1863.
Related entries & more 
rough-rider (n.)

1733, "horse-breaker, one who breaks young or wild horses for the saddle;" see rough (adj.) + rider. Of horses, rough (adj.) meaning "not properly broken in" is from 1590s. The meaning "irregular cavalryman" is attested by 1884. Related: Rough-riding.

Related entries & more 
Hobson's choice (n.)
English university slang term, supposedly a reference to Thomas Hobson (c. 1544-1631), Cambridge stable manager who let horses and gave customers a choice of the horse next in line or none at all. Phrase popularized c. 1660 by Milton, who was at Cambridge from 1625-29.
Related entries & more 
hands down (adv.)

to win something hands down (1855) is from horse racing, from a jockey's gesture of letting the reins go loose in an easy victory.

The Two Thousand Guinea Stakes was not the best contested one that it has been our fortune to assist at. ... [T]hey were won by Meteor, with Scott for his rider; who went by the post with his hands down, the easiest of all easy half-lengths. Wiseacre certainly did the best in his power to spoil his position, and Misdeal was at one time a little vexatious. [The Sportsman, report from April 26, 1840]

Ancient Greek had akoniti "without a struggle, easily," from akonitos (adj.), literally "without dust," specifically "without the dust of the arena."

Related entries & more