Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Flea

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
as a parasite.   1
“Hobbes clearly proves that every creature
Lives in a state of war by nature;
So naturalists observe a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller still to bite ’em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Swift: Poetry: a Rhapsody.
   Sent off with a flea in his ear. Peremptorily. A dog which has a flea in the ear is very restless, and runs off in terror and distress. In French: Mettre à quelqu’un puce à l’oreille. Probably our change of word implies a pun.   2



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