Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Catch a Tartar.

 Catch a Crab (To).Catch as Catch can. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Catch a Tartar.
The biter bit. Grose says an Irish soldier in the Imperial service, in a battle against the Turks, shouted to his comrade that he had caught a Tartar. “Bring him along, then,” said his mate. “But he won’t come,” cried Paddy. “Then come along yourself,” said his comrade. “Arrah!” replied Paddy, “I wish I could, but he won’t let me.”   1
        “We are like the man who boasted of having caught a Tartar, when the fact was that the Tartar had caught him.”—Cautions for the Times.

 Catch a Crab (To).Catch as Catch can. 


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