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Entry from December 31, 2006
“Beat like a rented mule”

"Beat like a rented mule” sounds like it’s a Texas phrase. It appears on lists of Texas phrases, and Texas speakers recently have used the phrase. The meaning of the phrase is to beat badly. A mule is a servile animal—and less care is applied to a rented mule.

However, the earliest “beat like a rented mule” citations all appear to come from Pittsburgh Penguin hockey announcer Mike Lange, from 1991. Lange’s colorful language is well-known in Pittsburgh and has been collected on several web pages.

Who in Pittsburgh in 1990 rented and beat a mule? It sounds like an old Texas phrase. But citations are citations, and they all point to Mike Lange.


Texas Talkin’ Page
He beat him like a rented mule. (Ouch!)

Dan Ratherisms
Quotes from CBS Anchor Dan Rather on Election Night 2004
“In southern states they beat him like a rented mule.”

Urban Dictionary
Beat it like a rented mule
To beat someone, as you would a mule that did not belong to you. Without hesitancey.
Bitch, I’m gonna beat you like a rented Mule.
by Philip Sep 12, 2003

Wikipedia: Mike Lange
Mike Lange is the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2001, he received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for his outstanding work as an NHL broadcaster.

A native of Sacramento, California, Lange joined the Penguins as a radio announcer in 1974 after spending time as a commentator for the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League
(...)
Expressions
Like fellow Pittsburgh sports announcers, Steelers announcer Myron Cope and the late Pirates announcer Bob Prince, Lange uses a repertoire of distinctive colorful expressions, sometimes called “Lange-isms” by his fans.

“I’ll be cow-kicked!”
(...)
“He beat him like a rented mule!”

Google Groups: rec.sport.hockey
From:  GaRY NEweLl
Date:  Sat, May 4 1991 2:44 pm

> P.S.  The two times Mario beat Moog like a rented mule were the most
> satisfying parts of the night

Google Groups: rec.sport.hockey
From:  Viktor Gotz
Date:  Thurs, Jan 2 1992 1:25 pm

Chicago fans: how is Belfour doing? last I heard his record wasn’t too good, and Capt’n Hook treated him like “a rented mule”. (Borrowed from Mike Lang)

Google Groups: rec.sport.hockey
From:  Lori Iannamico
Date:  Fri, Jan 24 1992 10:53 am

Dale Andreychuk(LaFontaine, Wood 13:19), to use the words of Mike Lange, beat Young like a rented mule. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 31, 2006 • Permalink