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figure 1


lick one's chops. Anticipate eagerly.

I think it is somewhat questionable to classify this as a dog expression, since cats seem just as prone this behavior as dogs. However, an article in the somewhat authoritative American Speech is quite specific—and I do mean specific—on this point.reference 1

This one is used metaphorically quite regularly. In the press, the context is almost always one of competition, whether it is politics, sports, or even chess. Hard as it may be to imagine the world of chess tolerating lip licking, columnist Robert Byrne describes strategies this way: “ grandmaster will revel in the chance off...defensive play, his opponent will lick his chops at the prospect of...a crushing attack.”reference 2 New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said that “council members 'can lick their chops all they want' over the prospect of an additional $200 million in tax revenues...but added...”reference 3 Well, I don't think it really matters too much what he added. What matters is that even the staid Mr. Bloomberg made good use of the colorful expression.

1. Bond, Richmond P. 1926. Animal Comparisons in Indiana. American Speech 2 (1):44.

2. Byrne, Robert. 1985. Chess: Better to Attack or Defend? Result Provides the Answer. New York Times, Nov 12. Accessed Jun 4 2008 1985 from http:// gst/ fullpage.html? res= 9C0DE2D71238 F931A25752 C1A963948260.

3. McIntire, Mike. 2004. Mayor Says No Backtracking on $400 Property Tax Rebates. New York Times, May 26. Accessed 2004 from http:// gst/ fullpage.html? res= 9F04E5DA 153EF935A 15756C0A 9629C8B6.

About the illustration: The woman in Figure 1 is licking her lips in anticipation. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
cf: lick one's wounds Last updated: July 5, 2008
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