The idiom one-trick pony is not as old as you may think. We will examine the definition of the expression one-trick pony, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
A one-trick pony is someone or something that only has one talent or trick they are capable of performing. The idiom one-trick pony is usually said derisively, implying that the person or thing in question has little to offer. Someone who is a one-trick pony is not considered well-rounded. One-Trick Pony is also the name of an album and movie released by singer-songwriter Paul Simon in 1980. The album featured the songs Ace in the Hole, Late in the Evening and God Bless the Absentee. Usually a musician, songwriter and performer, Simon turned his hand to acting in the movie One-Trick Pony. Other actors in the lineup included Mare Winningham and Blair Brown. One Trick Pony is a graphic novel by Nathan Hale, as well as the name of a beer brewery in Illinois. The idiom one-trick pony is derived from the circus. A circus featuring a pony that has only been trained to perform one trick is not very entertaining. An old joke claims that a certain circus was so bad, the trick that the one-trick pony performed was to play dead. The term one-trick pony to describe a circus horse act featuring an animal with a small repertoire of talents first appeared around the turn of the twentieth century. By the mid-twentieth century, the term one-trick pony was being used as an idiom. The plural form is one-trick ponies. Note that one-trick is hyphenated.
ExamplesWith Pakistan expected to take up the Kashmir issue during the high-level UN General Assembly session this week, India said a “one-trick pony” can “regurgitate” the same act but “single act plays” have no resonance on multi-lateral platforms like the United Nations. (The Economic Times)
Although Cal’s budding star is primarily known for his breaststroke, he is far from a one-trick pony, as he happens to be the best 200-yard medley swimmer in the 2018 recruiting class, with a national high school record time of 1:43.55. (The Daily Californian)
The study authors told the Harvard Business Review that experienced hiring managers “said things like, ‘Someone who has accomplished a lot of things is better than a one-trick-pony who just keeps doing the same thing and isn’t taking advantage of what the MBA has to offer.”’ (The Business Insider)“I am basically trying to show the world that I am no one-trick pony,” said Lawrence, who tied for second in the NFL with 14 sacks last year. (The Austin American Statesman)