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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
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:
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:
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:
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