Have you ever had a sore throat or a cough that made your voice sound funny?
If you’ve ever had a problem with your throat that made it hard to speak, don’t worry. It’s probably no big deal. Most likely, you just had a frog in your throat.
What?! A frog in the throat? That’s right! If you don’t remember swallowing a frog, that’s understandable. That would be hard to forget, wouldn’t it?
When you say someone has a frog in the throat, you’re using an idiom. An idiom is a phrase whose meaning is different from the meaning of the words themselves.
For example, if you looked up each word of an idiom in the dictionary, the expression wouldn’t make any sense — or at least not mean what the speaker intended it to mean.
If a person has a frog in the throat, it doesn’t mean that the person literally (actually) has a real frog in the throat. The phrase “frog in the throat” simply means the person is having trouble speaking due to a problem with the throat, such as hoarseness, phlegm, coughing or soreness.
“Frog in the throat” is a funny phrase, isn’t it? It’s a very vivid way of describing the fact that someone is having trouble speaking normally.
For some, the sound of a frog’s croak probably comes immediately to mind. For others, the phrase might conjure up an image of a frog sticking out of someone’s mouth!
Most likely, the phrase came about because of how a person with throat trouble sounds. Hoarseness, phlegm, coughing and soreness can cause the voice to sound much like the “croak” of a frog.
As the saying became popular, legend has it that scam artists — called “snake oil merchants“— would sell fake cures for throat problems. As these merchants advertised their wares in town squares, a helper with a sore throat would take the fake cure, pretend to cough up a live frog and suddenly regain his voice. Although it was quite deceptive, it must have been entertaining to watch!