one-horse town



The term "one-horse" originated as an agricultural phrase, meaning 'to be drawn/worked by a single horse.' This led to the use of this phrase in a metaphorical sense as something that is small or insignificant. Charles Dickens explained in his publication All the Year Round (1871):

'One horse' is an agricultural phrase, applied to anything small or insignificant, or to any inconsiderable or contemptible person: as a 'one-horse town,' a 'one- horse bank,' a 'one-horse hotel,' a 'one-horse lawyer',  [etc.]


one-horse town ‎(plural one-horse towns)

  1. (US, idiomatic) A very small town.
    It's surrounded by beautiful wilderness, but otherwise it's just a one-horse town.



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