from SANDY GARSON with thanks to Reader’s Digest

Of all the animals to idiomatically refer to as “happy,” why a faceless, shell-concealed, blobby clam? If this phrase strikes you as strange for this reason, you’re not alone. And you’re totally right to be confused, because “happy as a clam” is only half of the expression, making it one of the everyday idioms you’re getting wrong.

The original expression, which dates back to the early 19th century, was “happy as a clam at high tide” or “at high water.” And when you learn that clams can only be dug up or harvested at low tide, when water isn’t covering them, you understand why they could be considered very happy at high tide.

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