Pig in a poke

A pig in a poke is something that is obtained without first getting a good look at it, literally or figuratively. The phrase dates back to the Middle Ages, when meat was a rare victual for the common person. A poke is a bag or sack. A common practice for flim-flam artists in the Middle Ages was to claim to possess a suckling piglet in a tied bag and induce the victim to buy the piglet sight-unseen. Once the victim bought the poke, he would untie the bag to find not a pig, but a dog or cat. The French have a phrase: acheter (un) chat en poche, which literally translates to buy a cat in a bag, a reference to the same crime.



Michael Byers: Careful, the TPP could yet be a ‘pig in a poke’: it’s too early to fret, or to celebrate (The National Post)

Canadians thinking of voting for Trudeau should remember that when it comes to what is likely the biggest new cost he is about to impose on them, they will be buying a pig in a poke. (The Toronto Sun)

“At least they’re not asking you to vote for a pig in a poke”, he said, in a clear allusion to Lord Ashcroft’s allegations about the youthful hijinks of Prime Minister David Cameron (The Scotland Herald)

But that may be insufficient for VW owners who find they’re now driving a four-wheel pig in a poke with a resale value that’s tumbled alongside VW’s stock price. (The Los Angeles Times)

The third economic package is not clear yet, and investors don’t want to buy pig in a poke although there are indications that the package will help purchasing power,”‎ Lana said as quoted by (The Jakarta Post)



Check Your Text


  1. Stan Smith says:

    And if you were to open the bag to find the cat instead of the piglet, you’d let the cat out of the bag.

  2. jmsullivan says:

    As with so many other areas of human achievement, con artistry has… evolved considerably since the middle ages.

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