Two shakes of a lamb’s tail

Origin of: Two shakes of a lamb’s tail

Two shakes of a lamb’s tail

Often shortened to ‘two shakes’, as in “I’ll be with you in two shakes”, means “I’ll be with you in a very short while.” The earliest citation appears to be British from the early 19th century, appearing in The Ingoldsby Legends c.1840 by Richard Harris Barham but some sources claim the expression is Australian and/or New Zealand from around the same time. Other animals’ tails and vulgar anatomy parts are often substituted for ‘lamb’s tail’ e.g. ‘dog’s tail’, dog’s bollocks’, ‘duck’s tail’, duck’s arse’ and so on.