Daily Archives: May 3, 2014

101 Colloquialisms & Idioms I Grew Up Hearing…


Growing up, my dad was the “King of Colloquialism”, at least in my mind.  He had quite a repertoire of idioms and sayings that have stayed with me through the years.  He was born in 1937 and his parents just after the turn of the century.  I’m sure he heard many of them from his parents, aunts and uncles, and they became standard prose.  Many were perplexing to me as a child as I pondered their meaning.  Perhaps you may even recall others you, too, grew up hearing and wondering about.  I hope you enjoy.

Here goes:

  1. A little birdie told me.
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  3. A stitch in time is worth nine.
  4. Use a little elbow grease.
  5. Let your head save your feet.
  6. The elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top.
  7. Good enough for government work.
  8. Make hay while the sun shines.
  9. Slow as molasses in the middle of winter.
  10. Slow as day.
  11. Right as rain.
  12. You look like your last dog died.
  13. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  14. The early bird catches the worm.
  15. Red as a beet.
  16. White as rice.
  17. Black as night.
  18. Fast as lightning.
  19. Ready for Freddie, Waitin’ for Clayton
  20. I was born ready.
  21. Ready as I’ll ever be.
  22. Feed a cold, starve a fever.
  23. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  24. Pretty is as pretty does.
  25. Beets will make you beautiful.
  26. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  27. They’ll be late to their own funeral.
  28. Necessity is the mother of invention.
  29. Kick the bucket.
  30. A little thin on top.
  31. Not too bright.
  32. Better too early than late.
  33. Better too late than never.
  34. Better safe than sorry.
  35. A dime a dozen.
  36. A baker’s dozen.
  37. That’s a piece of cake.
  38. Time to hit the books.
  39. Time to hit the hay.
  40. Hit the nail on the head.
  41. Almost laid on egg.
  42. When pigs fly.
  43. You’ll be up the river without a paddle.
  44. Costs an arm and a leg.
  45. Can’t get blood out of a turnip.
  46. Bite off more than you can choose.
  47. A lazy man’s load.
  48. If your ears are burning, it means someone’s talking about you.
  49. If your nose itches, it means someone’s thinking of you.
  50. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
  51. If you want something done right, do it yourself.
  52. Do it right the first time.
  53. Haste maketh waste.
  54. Waste not, want not.
  55. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
  56. Motor mouth.
  57. Can’t see the forest for the trees.
  58. That’s for the birds.
  59. All that glitters isn’t gold.
  60. Time is money.
  61. Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  62. The money tree out back is bare.
  63. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  64. No pain, no gain.
  65.  Pearls of wisdom.
  66. Roll with the punches.
  67. Like water off a duck’s back.
  68. If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.
  69. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.
  70. Too many chefs spoil the pot.
  71. A watched pot never boils.
  72. The pot calling the kettle black.
  73. Gotta step up to the plate.
  74. Born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
  75. Don’t wear out your welcome.
  76. A silver lining in the cloud
  77. Don’t cry over spilled milk.
  78. Opinion is like a nose; everybody’s got one.
  79. Don’t be a worrywart.
  80. You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.
  81. Turn that frown upside down.
  82. Slow and steady wins the race.
  83. Persistence is the key to success.
  84. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
  85. Don’t burn the candles at both ends.
  86. Locks were made for honest people.
  87. Honesty is the best policy.
  88. Fast as lightning.
  89. Sharp as a tack.
  90. Down to earth.
  91. Under the weather.
  92. On Cloud Nine.
  93. In File Thirteen.
  94. Sly as a fox.
  95. Sit down and take a load off.
  96. My dogs are barking.
  97. Add fuel to the fire.
  98. Put the pedal to the metal.
  99. Add insult to injury.
  100. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
  101. A penny saved is a penny earned.



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