Buy a pig in a poke: exchange excluded

Who wants to buy a pig in a poke? With regard to this old saying, you should test or at least look at almost everything nowadays before you buy it. If you don't do this and later get annoyed about the ill-considered purchase, it is often said: You probably bought the pig in a poke! But why actually? Buy a pig in a poke: exchange excluded - Image: Shutterstock / Lena Lir

Buy a pig in a poke - this term refers to acquiring an item without having examined it closely. Sometimes it is simply not possible to inspect the object of desire yourself before buying - for example, when hunting for bargains on the Internet.

If the desire then defeats reason, some are tempted to order something unseen. If the result is disappointing, you inevitably think of the proverbial pig in a poke.

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The saying "buy a pig in a poke" must be very old, because it is mentioned in Till Eulenspiegel's tails - and, as is well known, he only took up such proverbs that had been around for a long time. The saying has its origins in the old marketplaces. If someone bought a rabbit, a rabbit or a piglet to serve as a roast at lunchtime, the animals were often put in a sack so that they did not run away.

Sometimes the animals were already bagged before they were sold. When the blue-eyed buyer opened the bag he had bought at home to prepare a tasty roast rabbit, a cat would sometimes jump out to meet him because he had just bought it in the bag - and not just proverbially.

Cats used to be of little value to farmers

The deception was of course a bad deal for the good-faith buyer. He was probably expecting a laying hen in the sack or a piglet for the Sunday roast. Instead, he was sold a little useful cat. The animals could only be used for mouse hunting and not for food supply. Most of the time it didn't stay with a mouse hunter because the stray animals were not neutered.

For example, a flock of wild catches usually roamed around on farms - unless there were people who adopted the farm cats. Unfortunately, this is still partly the case today.