The word "leather" has not only made it in our dictionaries... it invaded our language!

Main Reaction - The TFL Blog | May 2019

"Leather-lunged"? "Hell for leather"?

Leather has played such a significant role for humans and their daily lives for such a long time, that it has even managed to invade our language. We’ve found a few idioms containing leather that we want to share with you. Ready? Here we go!


Having an extremely or inordinately loud or strong voice, as of someone with very robust lungs

Despite being only 6 years old, the leather-lunged girl managed to fill the entire room with her amazingly strong voice.

"as ever trod shoe-leather"

As ever walked the earth; as ever lived

Freddy Mercury was as talented a singer as ever trod shoe-leather.

"go hell for leather" or "hell for leather"

To move, act or do something very quickly or as quickly as possible

I went hell for leather to get home after work but I still missed dinner.

"(as) tough as shoe leather"

1st meaning: To be physically strong and/or rarely sick or injured; to be very tough

John has won the Iron Man three times in a row – he’s as tough as shoe leather.

2nd meaning: To have a tough, leathery skin (as of meat).

This meat is as tough as shoe leather – I can’t even cut it.

"(as) tough as leather"

Having great strength of body, mind, or will; not susceptible to sickness or injury

Jenny is as tough as leather – she raised three kids on her own and founded her own company on top of that.

"hell-bent for leather"

Very quickly or as quickly as possible. The “leather” in the phrase is thought to refer to a horse’s saddle or whip.

When her ex-boyfriend walked into the party, Patty went hell-bent for leather to get out of there.

Informal use: moving or behaving recklessly; riding a horse fast and recklessly.

The thief drove away hell-bent for leather to escape the police.


Manuela, Switzerland

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