a pig in a poke

a business trick


poke = Beutel, Sack —— to buy a pig in a poke = die Katze im Sack kaufen



“Genetic engineering soon to be A PIG IN A POKE? Consumer advice center sample: Genetically modified food available in supermarkets.”

Yumda News — (4th July 2023)

“EU will not accept 'PIG IN A POKE' Brexit deal from Boris Johnson, Council president warns.”

Andrew Woodcock — The Independent (15th June 2020)

Did you

a pig in a poke

- something that you have bought without seeing it first

MacMillan Dictionary


“Poke" is an old English word meaning “sack” or “bag”. So, buying a "pig in a poke" would mean buying a sealed bag containing a pig without opening it to check the quality of the animal. Sometimes sellers would cheat by putting a less valuable animal, like a cat or a dog in the sack. If the sack was purchased sight unseen, the buyer could end up with something worth much less than a pig, having been "sold a pup" or even "letting the cat out of the bag" when they discover the deception.

The idiom has been widely used in many languages and cultures, often with slight variations but with the same warning about unwise purchases or decisions. Its origin dates back to a time when market transactions involving livestock were common and it served as a cautionary metaphor for unwise or hasty buying decisions.

The expression has stood the test of time and is still used today to warn against unverified or risky purchases or investments. It serves as a reminder that it's always better to "look before you leap" in business and personal matters alike.

Perhaps the earliest written mention of the expression was in the Common-place Book, 1530: "When ye proffer the pigge open the poke.”


a blind bargain, a cat in a sack, a leap of faith, A PIG IN A POKE, a roll of the dice, a shot in the dark, betting on a longshot, black box, blind investment, buying a lottery ticket, buying blind, drawing straws, flying blind, gamble, leap into the unknown, potluck, risky business, Russian nesting doll, sight unseen, taking a stab in the dark, unknown quantity, venturing into the unknown

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation, say something like:

“Thirsty? Let me make you our favourite cocktail… I call it PIG IN A POKE because you don’t know what’s in it!”

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