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Meaning of “Feather His Own Nest” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Feather His Own Nest

“By this means . . . they feather their nests well enough.” -SSUBBES: The Anatomy of Abuse (1583).

Human creatures are not alone, in the great family of living things, in their seeking after comfort. Since time began, or, at least since the coming of life on our planet, it has been very natural that “the brute creation” should seek to make their surroundings as cheerful as possible, albeit at the expense of one another. This is the meaning of our phrase. Certain species of birds will line their nests with any soft material: grasses, mosses, and especially feathers, in order that their progeny shall not find life too hard at the start. If the offspring cannot have exactly a “bed of roses,” it can, it seems, have the next best thing—a bed of feathers.

Whether or not a bed of roses—or of feathers—is a- good thing with which to pamper any offspring, may be left to philosophic speculation. That which is more important, perhaps, is the source of the feathers. Few of these feathers are from their own bodies. More probably they are gathered from other nests: the stray leavings from the daily preening’s. Smaller members of the species, also, watch their opportunity to do a little burgling, even from the bodies of the larger ones, when considering setting up house, to provide the necessary furnishings. Indeed, sparrows have been observed to sidle furtively toward a group of pigeons on the ground in a public place, and, while the latter were feeding, the wily favorites would pluck out from the underside of a pigeon’s body a soft feather—and fly away in triumph.

Rabelais may have been the first to use the phrase; or, he may have obtained it from the tongue of a simple peasant who had often studied nest-building at close quarters. The human species has never been slow to copy the example set by “the lower creation”; indeed, to improve on it betimes, to feather the egoistic nest.


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