Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by The Wonder Team. The Wonder Team Wonders, “What does it mean to be 'Sly as a Fox'?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, The Wonder Team!

Have you ever been tricked by someone? Of course you have! Who hasn’t? Some people are just good at pulling the wool over others’ eyes. Sometimes you may hear people say such tricksters are “sly as a fox.”

But what exactly does that mean? “Sly as a fox” is a simile. That’s a type of figurative language. It uses the words “like" or “as“ to compare two normally unlike things. In this example, “sly as a fox” means that a person is very crafty or dishonest. If you’re as sly as a fox, you are experienced and cunning. You can usually get whatever you want, sometimes by underhanded means.

But are foxes really sly? And, if so, how did people find out? Were they tricked by foxes? How did foxes get this reputation?

Sly as a fox” has been a traditional saying for hundreds of years. Fables, such as Aesop’s “The Fox and the Crow,” painted the fox as a very crafty and cunning hunter. Although there are plenty of other animals that are cunning hunters, the fox became associated with trickery.

For example, many medieval stories include a character called Reynard the Fox. Reynard the Fox is a red fox who acts like a human. He is the central character of many fables from France, England, and Germany. Reynard is known as a trickster. He always gets into trouble, yet can always talk his way out of it!

Most fables with Reynard the Fox also had other animals that also act like humans. Reynard is often portrayed as being captured, only to trick the other animals in the end. He usually gets his revenge in a cunning and crafty way.

How common is the image of the sly fox? Very common! For example, the sly fox is referred to over and over again in many of Shakespeare’s plays. 

Do you know anyone who is sly as a fox? If so, don’t let them trick you! What other similes can you think of that include animals? Maybe you’re as brave as a lion or as busy as a bee. You may find that people compare each other to animals pretty often!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.4, CCRA.W.4

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