When Pigs Fly: Meaning, Usage, and Origin

when pigs fly

When someone uses the phrase “when pigs fly”, they mean that something is highly unlikely to happen. This idiom, also known as “pigs might fly”, is often used humorously to express disbelief or skepticism toward a statement or idea.

Examples of how to use “when pigs fly” in a sentence

  • My daughter will tidy up her room without my reminder when pigs fly.
  • My boss will give me a bonus when pigs fly.
  • The government will reduce taxes when pigs fly.
  • He is handsome and talented, but he will win an Oscar for acting when pigs fly.
  • She’ll admit that she was wrong when pigs fly.
  • You’ll retire and travel the world when pigs fly because you’re a workaholic.
  • She’ll go on a date with him when pigs will fly.

It is important to note that “when pigs fly” is an informal idiom and is not appropriate for formal or professional settings. It is mainly used in casual conversations, jokes, and other informal situations.

Synonyms for the idiom “when pigs fly”

  • When hell freezes over
  • In a million years
  • That will be the day


The phrase “when pigs fly” was first recorded in 1616 by English lexicographer John Withals in his Latin-English dictionary, where he wrote “pigs fly in the ayre with their tayles forward” to convey the idea of impossibility.

This idiom gained further popularity in the 19th century with its inclusion in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Despite some debate about its origin, the phrase continues to be used in modern language and popular culture to this day.

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