Frog in one’s throat

The phrase a frog in one’s throat is an idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beating around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the definition of the phrase a frog in one’s throat, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To have a frog in one’s throat means to be temporarily hoarse due to phlegm collecting in one’s throat. Having a frog in one’s throat is temporary, it is not an ongoing condition or a serious medical malady. Usually, one may clear one’s throat by affecting a slight cough. The expression to have a frog in one’s throat first appeared in the United States during the 1800s, and comes from the fact that a person so afflicted sounds as if he is croaking like a frog. All other stories floating around the internet about frogs being a medieval cure for various maladies is apocryphal.


John Prine had a frog in his throat which marred the vocal quality of his solo acoustic performances but it was more than made up for by the power of his songwriting – ‘Angel from Montgomery’ being a prime example – there are few greater American songwriters than Prine. (Forbes Magazine)

His vocal performance on You Wear It Well produced more grimaces than grins, and he was forced to re-start his version of the Sutherland Brothers’s Sailing because of “a frog in his throat.”  (The Times Colonist)

Morrell found a frog in his throat as he spoke about his time with Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart.  (The Citizen Times)

Nothing like testing hands-free while sick in bed: I discovered that voice recognition is great with all three devices, even with a frog in your throat, and am now equipped with useless trivia. (The New Daily)

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