An icelandic horse, left, and also a Shetland pony play in ~ a farm near Frankfurt, Germany, January 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)


And now, Words and also Their Stories, from VOA learning English.

You are watching: What does one trick pony mean

On today"s program, we talk about an animal idiom. What perform you think it method to be a one-trick pony?

Let"s start with a pony. The is a little horse. And one meaning of a “trick” is a special act or skill. So, pony tricks deserve to be fun to see. Yet who would desire to watch a pony the does the exact same trick over and also over?

A one-trick pony is a human being that has actually only one skill. So, the term is one insult. A one-trick pony is of low value. A one-trick pony can likewise describe a human who has had success only once.

So, for example, let’s say you understand a champion weightlifter. He is large and solid and successful in the sport. Yet it is the only thing the does: the eats, drinks, and also sleeps weightlifting. You might truthfully tell the he is a one-trick pony. But, be all set to run away as soon as the words leave her mouth. He probably won’t be an extremely happy.

Some word experts say the idiom "one-trick pony" comes from the circus. A circus pony that have the right to only do one trick is no going come entertain a crowd for really long.

The hatchet "one-trick pony" showed up around the rotate of the twenty century. Within about fifty years, the term had end up being an idiom. Keep in mind that one-trick is typically hyphenated. And also if friend have an ext than one, you have one-trick ponies.

Now, a one-trick pony usually defines a person. However sometimes that can explain other things, such together a company. If a firm only walk one point such together make ice cream cream cones, it can be referred to as a one-trick pony. However, that intake is much less common.

Now, stop hear 2 friends usage the expression in a conversation.


A: Guess who will carry out at mine outdoor party following week? Sam the Entertainer!

B: Please, no Sam the Entertainer! he is anything however entertaining.

A: What perform you mean? He has such energy!

B: He might be “energetic,” yet he’s a one-trick pony.

A: Sam is the ideal bagpipe player around.

B: yet that’s all he does. I hope her guests choose loud bagpipe music.

A: I"m sure they"ll love it! ! I"ve invited all my Ren-Fest friends!

Now, save in mental that civilization who specialization in a particular area the their job-related are not called one-trick ponies. They are specialists. For example, I would certainly never speak to a doctor specializing in children’s illnesses a one-trick pony. She is a specialist and also has many skills to execute her job.

And we right here at VOA discovering English specialization in making use of stories to teach English. Yet I expect you don’t consider us one-trick ponies.

And that’s all the time we have for this Words and also Their Stories.

Until following time...I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story because that VOA learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

idiom – n. an expression that cannot be interpreted from the meanings of its different words but that has a separate meaning of the own

insult – n. a rude or offensive act or explain : something that insults someone

champion – adj. very first among all contestants or competitors

eats, drinks, and also sleeps – idiom : to have a strong passion because that something; come think about it constantly

circus – n. a traveling display that is regularly performed in a tent and also that commonly includes trained animals, clowns, acrobats, etc.

entertain – v. to perform for (an audience) : to administer amusement for (someone) by singing, acting, etc.

hyphenated – adj. include or connected with a hyphen

conversation – n. a talk between two or much more people : the plot of talking

Ren-Fest – n.

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​short for Renaissance Festival : A festival organized to recreate the arts and background of the Renaissance. Generally held outside and on weekends and people usually dress up for it in duration clothing.