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What’s the Real Story Behind the Phrase ‘Frog in Your Throat?’

Jeff J Mitchell, Getty Images

When someone tells you that you have a frog in your throat, that person is letting you know that you sound terrible. Your voice is raspy and dry, and you’re probably having a hard time speaking.

So, is there some magical tale about how this expression came about?

Humble Origins

Actually, no, this phrase doesn’t really have a colorful beginning as to how it entered the English language. It probably got its start in the US, rather than England, but it means just what you think it means. When an individual with a hoarse throat tries to speak, he or she can often sound like a croaking frog. That seems simple enough. But wait, there’s more…

Frogs and Advertising

The story becomes a bit more interesting when we look at how this expression was popularized. In the late 19th century, the phrase gained some traction in America due to a book for boys. So much so, in fact, that it actually became the name of a popular throat remedy. If it hurt for you to swallow back then, you could simply pop in a ‘Frog in Your Throat’ lozenge, and that pesky amphibian ruining your day would scamper away.

Throat lozenge
bredgur, flickr

Frogs In The Dark Ages

In medieval times, people were a lot more superstitious than they are now. Things were often taken much more literally, too. Doctors believed that if a living frog were place inside the mouth of someone suffering from throat problems, that frog would somehow alleviate the patient’s cough and sore throat.

Frog Juice

Some people doubt living frogs were ever really used as a cure for throat aliments, while others believe you had to actually swallow the poor little frog. Perhaps only a little less gruesome is the school of thought that once suggested that our fellow human beings should ingest frog ‘secretions,’ whatever that is (you don’t want to know), in order to soothe their aching throats. If you doubt the validity of these claims, you can always give it a try yourself, just in case you’re curious. Let us know if it works.


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