Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Did You Say?

I get so many ideas for my own blog posts from fellow bloggers! For instance Darla posted about a saying used by her family, “my top won't spin, my ball won't bounce," to describe one of those days when nothing seems to be going right.

I’m not familiar with that one, but it got me to thinking about each family having its own unique vocabulary to describe situations. I think in many cases, sayings tend to be regional. I know here in the South we have sayings that often sound odd to others. So here a few phrases heard often, with a translation in parenthesis:

Photo Credit: Etsy

Barking up the wrong tree (you are wrong).
Busy as a one-armed man in a wallpaper-hanging contest (very busy).
Caught with your pants down (surprised and unprepared).
Do go on (you must be joking).
Don't bite off more than you can chew (don’t attempt more than you can accomplish).
Don't count your chickens before they hatch (first know the results)
Don't let the tail wag the dog (the chief is in charge, not the Indians).
Either fish or cut bait (work or make way for those who will).
Fly off the handle (angry and lashing out).
Get the short end of the stick (not invited and treated wrong).
Give down the road (give someone a piece of your mind).
Go hog wild (have a good time).
Go off half-cocked (have only half the facts).
Go to bed with the chickens (in bed early)
Go whole hog (go for it all)
Got your feathers ruffled (upset and pouting).
Happy as a pig in mud (doesn't grasp or worry what's going on)
Has an axe to grind (upset about something).
I do declare. (usually means nothing)
In high cotton (rising up in society).
In a coon's age (been a long time).
Like a bump on a log (lazy and doing nothing).
Like two peas in a pod (act and think alike).
Mend fences (settle differences).
Scarce as hen's teeth (doesn’t exist).
Sight for sore eyes. (pretty or nice).
Stomping grounds (familiar territory).
That takes the cake (surprised).
Too big for one's britches (someone getting uppity).
Two shakes of a sheep's tail (done quickly).
Well, shut my mouth (shocked and speechless).

What are some of the sayings unique to your family, or to your region or country? Are any of the above sayings familiar to you? I'd love for you to add your lists in the comments section.

Thank you!


  1. I just know I'll think of one I've forgotten, but for now all I can come up with is "Two shakes of a lamb's tail" which means the same as your "sheep's tail" one.
    Until moving to Oklahoma, I'd never had grits and thought the expression about kissing them meant something completely different. I really enjoyed those grits and now don't know what to think about it.

    1. You'll be thinking of them right and left, now. My HB, who is from New Jersey, finds some of my sayings amusing. When I get hungry, I saw I'm having a "sinking spell," and he thinks that one is so funny. The other one he can't get used to: we call a watering hose a "hose pipe." Many others.

  2. what a fun and quirky list, some of the saying made me laugh!

    1. Some are even more colorful, Anna, but I thought it best not to include those!

  3. 13 of those sayings are fairly common over here.

    Approprite for today....It is raining cats & dogs.

    A liar needs a good memory.

    Early to bed makes a man healthy & wealthy.

    Don't bite off more than you can chew.
    That is just some of our quirky sayings.

    I have heard of grits but not sure what they are? Ida

    1. Just my opinion as a novice grits connoisseur, but they are like Polenta with a velvety, creamy texture, and take on the flavor of whatever you put on them. My brother likes his with honey and apples for breakfast, while I like mine with bacon and cheese with dinner.
      I can't wait to read Sanda's description!

    2. Ida, those are some good additions; interesting that some of yours and ours are the same; in some cases, common heritage if you go back far enough!

      Beryl, very true, your distinctions. Now you and Ida have given me my idea for today's post. See what I mean. One idea piggybacks on another!

  4. Ha ha...too funny! I don't have hardly any one-liners like that and the ones my husband uses would not be appropriate...he thinks he is still in college : ) and I am laughing as I review some of them in my head... Happy Wednesday Sanda!

    1. You will think of some later, I'm sure! My husband has some pretty colorful ones as well!

  5. Remember this one - He/she flew up and missed the nest. Makes me laugh!

  6. That's a very good addition I didn't think of for describing failed expectations. Cute one!


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