When Pigs Fly

The phrase When pigs fly! is an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility.

When I was growing up, When pigs fly! was my mom’s way of saying “no.” The quirky way she said it took the edge off of her denial to my request. And trust me, it was always for my own good.

When pigs fly! implies that there’s no chance of something ever happening [again]. I’m looking forward to the day when the following examples occur only When pigs fly!:

  • War
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Hunger

What When pigs fly! example would you add?

© lauriebuchanan.com

52 thoughts on “When Pigs Fly

  1. Hi Laurie,

    I look forward to the day that war, injustice and hunger are found only in history books.

    I think it is achievable, and it will require some delicate balances.
    People are generally on their best behaviour when they are being observed, and we all make mistakes from time to time. So we need systems that hold us to account, but don’t expect impossible standards of zero failures.
    Having total public visibility is fine is governance is distributed and benign, but becomes a real danger if governance becomes totalitarian and exploitative.

    Finding a balance in there that maximises both individual freedom (which means the ability to make and relatively easily recover from mistakes) and ensures individual responsibility (in both social and ecological contexts) is an extremely complex problems, particularly when multiple levels of awareness and understanding are present simultaneously. Communication can be very difficult, particularly if there are concepts present that simply have no equivalent at other levels.

    So yes – I look forward to an age of universal freedom and universal responsibility supported by advanced fully automated systems.

    It wont be like anything that has existed before, and it will take some people a while to adjust to, and it will be amazing!

  2. We could add hatred, prejudice and intolerance. But being humans, I’m afraid these things will always be around. But perhaps if we truly believe that pigs will fly one day, we can believe that we will see the end of these things.

  3. Darlene and Bonnie hit the nail on the head for me. I love this expression, Laurie, and even have a small collection of pigs with wings. I think they are the cutest things!

  4. Hi Laurie

    I recall When pigs fly! from my youth too. And yes, it was a softer, more lighthearted version of Over my dead body! or the equally chilling When hell freezes over!

    What would I like to see less of? Racism, that insidious cancer of the mind that pits the USes against the THEMs for no other reason than it makes us feel superior. Yes, “when pigs fly” is wholly inadequate.

    Once again you’ve gotten me thinking. I thank you.

  5. Laurie, I love the expression too. I recently found a pig with wings on a weather vane in my area. I have a small statue of a pig with wings on a bird bath pedestal in my yard. It’s an old expression, but what is old usually comes around again. I guess my answer is DECEPTIONS, both large and small. We are all constantly the victims of deception.

  6. Economic injustice; poverty. Inequities for women. Separation of children at U.S. borders from their parents, when families are fleeing from untenable conditions in their countries (better immigration policies). The list is so long.

    Early in my childhood, if we wanted something out of reach of our large family’s budget, we were just told to save up for it. We didn’t have any regular money for chores, so the message was clear.

  7. I think what I was going to say has already been covered. Intolerance, reactionary thinking instead of sense and logic – there are many things I wish happened only when pigs fly.

  8. A professor down the hall from my office had a pig with wings on her desk. All she had to do was point when a indolent student pled for a passing grade with F work.

    The commenters listed many of my pet peeves. I would add a variant of hatred, bullying.

  9. Poverty and War… by the way, we use the same expression in Spanish. Except that we use Cows instead of pigs 🐷💕 quite curious, right?… sending love, dear Laurie

  10. Unkindness to each other …I had a fetish for pigs …they were everywhere in my last house …but I had to give some to the charity shop …it was madness 🐖 🐷 🐽

  11. Living without health insurance – Medicare, Social Security, or Medicaid Never again and I do not mean massively reduced services either.

    Women’s healthcare included in that statement….CHIP, SNAP….
    Justice I could go on and on
    We used to use a Swedish exercise tape with my youngest daughter…It featured the nicest stuffed, happy pig and he was used to help her move her legs and roll over and stand up, sit up and catch. The songs were lovely and we thought the physical therapist grand for having found this CD. Our daughter loved that pig The pig is the symbol for abundance and pigs make her smile and smile.

    • Patricia — Thank you for the excellent additions to the ever-growing list.

      I love the Swedish exercise tape that you described. It sounds like it made a huge, positive impoact on your daughter 🙂

  12. What a good question! Narrowing my thoughts down to one area is tough, however. I think right now I’d add general unkindness. It takes so little, in my mind, just to be kind, but it seems to be an elusive virtue. i’ll leave it at that! I’m sure you can think of a zillion ways kindness could ameliorate a host of other problems. And thanks for the humor of “When pigs fly.” I hadn’t heard that in a while and it’s such a goody! 🙂

  13. Laurie, ditto! Agree wholeheartedly…I’ve just read a post on ‘Gosnell’ a film about abortion (controversial I know) , guess that would be what I’d add to the list today of ‘when pigs fly’ (abortion)… Got me thinking of many other things too. Thanks Laurie.

  14. Laurie, I would like to see equality. That would cover a whole lot of isms and make the world a better place. I would like to see less suicide, despair and gun violence particularly in the US. Male youth suicide is a big concern to me.
    Best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.