Wisp of Straw
(A). Sign of danger. Often hung under the
arch of a bridge undergoing repairs, to warn watermen; sometimes in
streets to warn passengers that the roof of a house is under repair.
The Romans used to twist straw round the horns of a tossing ox or
bull, to warn passers-by to beware, hence the phrase foenum
habet in cornu, the man is crochety or dangerous. The
reason why straw (or hay) is used is because it is readily
come-at-able, cheap, and easily wisped into a bundle visible some long
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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