See a man about a horse and see a man about a dog are popular idiomatic phrases, used when one wants to end the conversation and leave, while concealing the true purpose of their departure.
While both variations are mostly used to imply one is going to the toilet, “see a man about a horse” can also be a euphemism for illegal activity.
“See a man about a dog” is often a hint for going to the pub.
The expression comes from the 1866 play of Dion Boucicault, titled Flying Stud.
One of the scenes in the play involve a man getting past a sticky situation by saying “I’ve got to see a man about a dog”.
It was from “see a man about a dog” that “see a man about a horse” would later develop from.
“See a man about a horse” would turn into the more popular variation of the expression, spreading all over the Anglosphere.
The expression would turn into many people’s choice of words when it comes to announcing that they have to go squirt some drops out.
It was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003, with several other entries written since.
- Phrases.org.uk – Going to see a man about a horse