English : wet behind the ears

What is the meaning and origin of the expression wet behind the ears?

By Mr. Ralph, Saudi Arabia – 7th May-2007.

When you say that someone is wet behind his/her ears, it means that he/she is young and immature. The person is green.

Here are a few examples.

• You can easily fool Anand. He is still wet behind the ears.

• I don't know how Jana got promoted. If you ask me, she is still wet behind the ears.

• I can't give the assignment to you. You're still wet behind the ears.

Before we entered this beautiful world of ours, all of us were floating around in our mother's tummy. When we came out of the womb, we came out with the amniotic fluid that was surrounding us. In other words, we entered this world soaking wet. Doctors and nurses used towels to dry us off before handing us over to our mothers.

In the case of newborn animals however, the mother has to lick the baby dry. It takes quite some time for the mother to do this. And one of the last places to become dry, I understand, is the area behind the ears. So if an animal is still wet behind its ears, it implies it has come into this world recently. It is still green.

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