Years and years. A very long time. And that’s basically it!
It is believed that this expression originated from “donkey’s ears” in the early 20th century and referred to the considerable length of the animal’s ears, on top of that donkeys are believed to live a long time. Ears rhymes with years and there you have it! The word “years” is often left out in English conversation, and the phrase is shortened simply to “donkey’s”.
As with many other bizarre idioms, we can occasionally hear Americans use this expression, however the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary describes the usage as chiefly British.
Examples of use in a sentence:
- “I haven’t seen her in donkey’s years!”
- “She’s been in the same job for donkey’s years.”
- “I haven’t seen you in donkey’s! How have you been?”