Where Did the Phrase “Happy As a Clam” Come From and What Does the Expression Mean?

“Happy as a clam” seems to assume that the mollusk is indeed happy.

This notion was probably inspired by the observation that if a clam is held sideways and looked at straight on it appears to be smiling.

However, the expression is incomplete.

It began as “happy as a clam at high tide.”

High tide is, of course, the time when clams can feed.

High tide is also a time when clams are safe from clam diggers which, obviously, would make them very happy.

The word clam is derived from the same Scottish word that means “vise” or “clamp.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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