field day???

Anyone have any idea of the origin of this? As in, “he’ll have a field day!” What in the world IS a field day, anyway?


Chief Wiggum

Chief W., when I was in elementary school (lo, those many moons ago) we had a special day every year called ‘Field Day’. The entire school spent the day participating in track and field events such as 3-legged races and bunny hop races as well as more standard events.

I’m sure this has nothing at all to do with the origin of the phrase ‘have a field day’, but I just felt like reminiscing.

Too many freaks, not enough circuses.

No you knwo what, I thin you might be right Ben… f that is your real name. I also had one when i was in elementary school. It was, coincidentally, much looked forward to by all as we had no workt that day - an escape from the shackles of our educators. Simply put, it was the easiest day of school all eyar, thus making me think of it as being a possibilty for the etymology of that expression.

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

If you need a graphic solution, http:\\Piglet

I also experienced field days in grade school, but I suspect “having a field day” refers instead to a field of battle, but I don’t know why the phrase should refer particularly to a successful day at war.


From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition ©1992

“Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!” Exceptions? None!
-Doc Bronner

andros… I DID look it up. I guess I was more interested in WHY it means “a time of extraordinary pleasure or opportunity.” Given the other definitions, I’m still not clear. My dictionary says the origin is 1747… but somewhere along the line the phrase was extended to be equated with pleasure or opportunity as well as the day for military exercises, etc… I guess I don’t see the bridge between the military/sporting events and the other. But I guess we do know what a real field day is now.

Cecil is usually good with tracking down first noted uses… anyone else have any ideas?


Lol…as I recall, “field day” meant it was time to clean the hell out of everything…From top to bottom and shine the brightwork.

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

Think of the butterfly collector who has been cooped up in his study all winter.

This is by all means a WAG, but, here goes: social workers (for one) call any out of office visits field work. In college, any interviewing and practicums are called field work. So a kid’s field day would be applying what they’ve been learning in school to what they are going to observe out in “the field”. (maybe?)

…left of the end of my theory…since no one really learned anything out of class, and considered their field day a chance to go nuts, we now consider the term equivalent to a day of freedom.

I meant no slight, Wiggum. But I don’t find it much of a stretch to go from “An outdoor meeting, social event,or festivity” to “A time of great pleasure, activity, or opportunity.”

A day playing in the field = a grand old time = what the media had with “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Sorry I’m not being more helpful, but I don’t really get the confusion.