What are the origins of the terms bull and bear?
We are, of course, all familiar with the terms “bull” and “bear” to signify rising and falling markets respectively. The origins of these phrases, as one might expect, goes back hundreds of years. It has been suggested that the expressions relate to bull and bear fighting, previously a bloodsport in parts of Europe. Bulls would gore with their horns in an upward motion, whereas bears tended to swipe in a downward motion. The metaphor is obvious, but is unlikely to have been the true origin. More likely is that the term “bear” derives from an old French proverb applied to the English market – ” ne vendez pas la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué” (“don’t sell the bear’s skin before you’ve killed the bear”). This proverb was applied to speculators in the South Sea Bubble scheme around 1720, alluding to the risky practice of bear trappers who would sell on the skins before having caught them. Incidentally, the similar bearish term of share prices “going south” also finds its roots in the
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