Tough Like a Toad

I have always had an interest in the etymology of words and phrases.  Whether they are well documented and straightforward like “flavor of the month,” used in ice cream company advertisements in the 1930s and 1940s, or obscure and ambiguous like “hunky dory,” first used in print in 1862 with various explanations for its possible origin, the metamorphosis of language is fascinating.  That’s why I want to document for future generations where the phrase “tough like a toad” originated because I’m sure it will catch on and become an integral part of our lexicon.

When she was about 3 years old, our granddaughter, Azbey, visited us one weekend, and she found a toad just outside the back door.  She asked John to pick it up so she could get a closer look.  The toad kicked and squirmed vigorously in an effort to get free and Azbey said, “Stop, Grandpa.  You’re hurting him.”  John replied, “I’m not hurting him.  He just doesn’t want to be held.  Toads are actually pretty tough.”

Later that day, Azbey skinned her knees when she fell down in the driveway.  As John picked her up, he asked if she was okay.  She answered, “I’m fine, Grandpa.  I’m tough like a toad.”  Since she coined that phrase 3 years ago, several members of our family now use it to describe individuals showing courage and fortitude in the face of adversity.  I’m sure the expression “tough like a toad” will catch on, and if it doesn’t, then people are just crazy like a caterpillar!

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