As Happy As A Clam | jy.catholic.org.hk

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As Happy As A Clam

刊登日期: 2016.12.24
作者: Grace Tse  

When you are happy, what would you compare yourself with by using a simile? A lot of Hong Kong people use “as happy as a fairy” to describe their happiness. However, English-speaking people use a kind of shellfish to emphasise their joyous feeling. 

The little boy is as happy as a clam(非常快樂;心滿意足)because he has received a nice Christmas present. 

Clams can be steamed, boiled or fried. They can make a lot of delicious dishes for us. Why do English-speaking people think that clams are happy? The full versions of this expression may tell us the reason : 

as happy as a clam at high tide 

as happy as a clam at high water 

At the coast, high tideor “high water” means the time when the sea reaches its highest level. When the tides are low, clams are easier to be caught. However, when the tides are high, clams are safe and “happy” because they are more difficult to be found and eaten. 

This informal expression is mainly used in conversation. Scholars found some early written evidence in the U.S.A. in the middle of the 18th century. As pointed out by The Dictionary of Americanisms (《美語詞典》) in 1848, “as happy as a clam at high water” was a very common expression in the coast of New England, a northeastern region of the U.S.A., where clams were found. 

Nowadays, the shortened version is more widely used than the full version, probably because people prefer a simpler form and are quite familiar with its meaning. 

During this festive season, I wish that each one of you will be as happy as a clam. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 


Glossary
Simile 比喻
Shellfish 貝類食物
Joyous 歡樂
Clams 蛤蜊、蚌、蜆
Full versions 完整的版本
High tide 漲潮
Evidence 證據
Festive season 節日

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