The word pig probably comes from the Old English picg and once only meant ‘young pig’. Adult pigs were called swine. A hog was a castrated male. A boar is the tusked, Eurasian wild pig from which our domestic pigs are descended.
To go the whole hog means to do something as completely as possible, and comes from the purchase at the butcher’s of a whole slaughtered animal.
Pearls before swine is from Matthew’s book in the Bible: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet”. It is now often used as a humorous way of saying, “After you.”
Don’t buy a pig in a poke means don’t buy something you haven’t seen. A poke is a bag, and would sometimes be sold by unscrupulous dealers with a cat inside instead of a pig.
To make a pig’s ear of something is to handle it ineptly. Pigs might fly is an expression of disbelief. On the pig’s back means living a life of ease and luxury.
Many of our expressions put the pig in a bad light. To pig out or to make a pig of yourself is to eat too much. To hog the limelight is to make yourself the centre of attention and hog heaven is a place of foolish or idle bliss.
Yet pigs, according to recent research, have been found to be more intelligent than dogs or dolphins and on a par with our closest relatives the chimpanzees. They love to play, are inquisitive and fast learners. They have excellent memories and are whizzes at mazes. What a pity they end up getting eaten.