When did you last have a field day?

This entry is part 5 of the series Common Sayings


Each Monday, I’m posting on my blog about a phrase or common saying, what they mean and how they came about.

I’m working through the alphabet and choosing one saying for each letter.

Have you ever heard or used the expression, “He’s having a real field day” . . .  or “The kids had a field day when their teacher wasn’t around to keep them quiet?”

That’s what we’re looking at this week. What does it mean to have a Field Day? And where did the expression come from?

Having a field day (Pexelst)

What does it mean to have a Field Day?

Most of you probably know this expression means to have a wonderful time, usually a great time of freedom from the usual routine. For example: “The teacher was away from school that day and so the children enjoyed a field day with very little supervision.”


I first thought this would have originated with time spent in the fields, so perhaps an agricultural background. But that is not the case. The phrase actually stems from the military. During the 18th century, it meant a time when officers would spend time “in the field” working with their soldiers, practicing their military maneuvers.

During the 19th century:

the phrase began to be used to refer to any event that might happen in a field. For example, during scientific expeditions: “We had a delightful field-day in the abbey.” Sir George Gilbert Scott in Recollections, 1878.

It then began to be used for any exciting, out-of-routine event. And example of this could be: “Saturday was a considerable field day in Arlington Street” written in Thomas Creevey’s Letters in 1827.

Today’s usage:

Nowadays it can mean any sort of excitement or an opportunity to make the most of a situation. It is often used in connection with the media. For example, In Jonah Lomu’s My Story: Revised Edition,” while talking about the breakup of his marriage Jonah says, “It was hard. The media had a field day. It certainly didn’t make our split any easier.”

A short while ago I read, “Social media had a field day calling out a spelling error in a video that was posted to President Trump’s Facebook page.” It seems he was promoting the need to put the miners back to work. But the post read, they intended to put their “minors” back to work.

Yeah . . . I bet the Social media had a field day!

Now over to you.

Can you share an example of a time when you had a field day? Please share in the comment box below. I love reading your comments!


12 comments on “When did you last have a field day?

  1. That was really wonderful. I did wonder how this phrase originated . Now I know . I last had a field day when I went gallivanting with my friends so long ago that I can’t put a date to it .

    • Thanks for your visit. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m planning to have a field day on Saturday when a group of us are getting together to learn a new card-making technique! YAY!

  2. I liked the pic of the girl sitting in the field and contemplating life – I think that’s more my kind of field day – finding time to spend in the fresh air and escaping from the 9-5 is always a field day for me 🙂

  3. Covfefe was legendary!

    I had a field day recently when my dietician was so impressed with my progress that I binged on all my favourites the entire day 🙂

    Very informative post!

  4. I had once tried to search the origin of “it rained cats and dogs” and was amused to find it literally had connection to cats and dogs falling from the roof. This post was very informative. Looking forward to more.

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