a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

ranking animal body part metaphors

Gooseneck (mount)

A gooseneck mount is a long, flexible metal arm that's supposed to hold its shape, the purpose of which is to precisely position whatever it is you want to mount. I know it in the context of microphone pop filters and a certain kind of desk lamp, but I'm sure they're used to hold other things, too. The way it bends is pretty evocative of how a goose's neck bends, my only issue is that it makes me a little sad to imagine a goose with such a thin, spindly neck holding up such a heavy head. But my pop filter is cheap and disappointing, so maybe that's on me. I give this one a B

Bird's eye view / Eagle eye

This one is technically accurate, it's just kind of boring. Birds are good at seeing things because they're high up. Eagles exceptionally so because of their predatory nature. Nothing about the eye itself is exceptional in appearance, and it doesn't make you think of an eagle's literal eye, it just makes you think of birds circling overhead. It gets the job done, but by now it's cliche enough that I wouldn't use it any writing I care about. C

Chicken scratch

This isn't a body part per se, but it's impossible to hear it and not picture a chicken's talons scratching lines into the dirt. Does the term make sense for bad handwriting? It does, but I think it's been watered down through overuse. People tend to use it for messy but mostly-legible handwriting, when actual chicken scratches don't resemble anything close to writing. I think it should be saved for handwriting that you literally can't begin to decipher—which, in my opinion, limits it to exceptionally sloppy cursive. I don't know if print handwriting can rise to the level of chicken scratch, no matter how messy it is. None of this is the term's fault, so it still gets a B.

Duck's ass

This is a term for a 50's greaser hairstyle used by the author S.E. Hinton in The Outsiders, which I always thought she made up, but apparently was a real term. Maybe I haven't spent enough time looking at the wrong side of a duck, but I never understood it. Does the term refer to the back of the hair or the front? The way a duck's hindquarters stick up, I always thought it was just slang for pompadour, but the pics on wikipedia seem to imply it refers to the back of the hair, which is slicked back and points down in exactly the way a duck's ass doesn't. Also, the abbreviation for this hairstyle is D.A., which is already something else in the crime community. The less-edgy alternative "ducktail" at least sounds a little better, and it reminds me of Ducktales, so this one barely squeaks by with a D.

Elephant's ear (snack)

I get that in a carnival setting, you want to exaggerate and make everything seem larger-than-life, and these are pretty big for a portable snack, but if you described it to me, I'd picture something bigger. It's basically the same as any other fry bread or funnel cake. The shape also has only a vague resemblance to the genuine article. This one gets a C+. Gotta respect the hustle.

Elephant's ear (plant)

This looks a hell of a lot like a real elephant ear, and it's impressively large enough to warrant the name. A

Houndstooth (pattern, flower)

WTF? I don't know what eldritch horror hounds you've been looking at. F

Cat tail (reed)

Because as we all know, cat tails are a few millimeters thick except for the end, which sprouts a fuzzy corn dog-like bulb. You know, cats! The famous animal! 🤦 F

Hair of the dog (that bit you)

It's believed that having a little bit of alcohol when you wake up is effective for easing hangover symptoms. I don't think this is true. I think you're just less likely to notice the symptoms if you're a little buzzed. I'm not a doctor, but I don't recommend it. Drink plenty of water between cocktails and you won't get a hangover.

The term "hair of the dog" is based on a the pseudoscientific belief that "like treats like", so when you're bitten by a rabid dog, you should eat a little bit of that dog's hair. This probably goes back to fucking Aristotle. This is the phony principle with which "homeopathic" "medicine" is still somehow allowed to scam people. None of this is anything. Please stop. F-

Ape Drape

This is one of many (maybe fictional) synonyms for "mullet" in the Vandals song I've Got An Ape Drape. At first, it didn't make much sense, because I was thinking of gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees; none of which have particularly luscious locks. But then it hit me: humans are apes, and humans are also the only only animal with a concentration of hair on its head that, when not artificially trimmed, drapes down the rest of its mostly-hairless body.1 The ape in this metaphor is us. If there were another sapient animal, or extraterrestrial scientists were describing the physical features of humans, they'd absolutely refer to human hair as an ape drape. The mullet is the hair style for which the drape effect is the most stark, so it makes sense to use it as a synecdoche for long hair in general. I've got an ape drape, yes I do. A+


  1. sorry for how white-normative this whole bit is. To be abundantly clear, I'm not suggesting that people whose hair doesn't hang like a drape aren't human, just that humans are the only animal where the drape occurs. I thought about trying to come up with a cute non-primate animal metaphor for natural black hair but that would probably not be a good idea. Not for me, anyway.