Idiom – A Little Bird Told Me
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A Little Bird Told Me – Idiom of the Day
(Also A Little Birdie Told Me)
This idiom is used to convey that the speaker knows something but chooses to(or has to) keep the identity of their informant secret.
There are multiple possible origin stories for this expression.
Some attribute it to Ecclesiastes 10:20 “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.” Another explanation is a simple allusion to carrier pigeons or other such messenger birds.
John Heywood’s Proverbs (1562) gives an earlier expression: “I hear by one bird that in mine ear was late chanting”, and characterizes “a little bird told me” as the ‘modern’ version.”
Another origin story comes from a Norse legend, wherein Sigurd could hear and understand the birds after he slayed the dragon Fafnir. The birds warned him that Regin would kill him.
- A little birdie told me it was your birthday today.
- Hey Boyd, a little bird told me you haven’t been nice to your friends lately.
- A little birdie told me you got caught for speeding yesterday.