feel one's oats



An allusion to the behavior of a horse that has been well fed on oats.


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feel one's oats

  1. (idiomatic) To feel energetic or frisky; to behave in a vigorous or bold manner.
    • 1853, Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street,"
      In fact, precisely as a rash, restive horse is said to feel his oats, so Turkey felt his coat.
    • 2006, Candace Rondeaux, "Forming Families, One Adoption at a Time," Washington Post, 16 Nov. (retrieved 5 Nov. 2008),
      "It's a tough road because kids at that time are developmentally feeling their oats," Beverage said.
  2. (idiomatic) To feel important; to be empowered.
    • 1906, Andy Adams, "The Double Trail" in Cattle Brands,
      The old man feeling his oats, as he leaned with his back against the bar, said to us with a noticeable degree of pride, "Lads, I'm proud of every one of you. Men who will fight to protect my interests has my purse at their command."
    • 2004, Michelle Grattan, "Change ahead in Senate's new dawn," The Age (Australia), 29 Oct. (retrieved 5 Nov. 2008),
      The Nationals gave the Coalition its Senate majority and yesterday were feeling their oats.