Saturday, March 19, 2016

English Language Sayings

What follows is a list of sayings that are as old as the hills. (“Old as the hills” is one of the sayings in question.) Some of them make sense, but many don’t make any sense at all. Tacks are sharp, but who was it that thought that buttons were cute? Some are metaphoric. Rocks can be said to be dumb; doornails can be said to be dead. I hope that this is interesting to my English learner friends, among others.  

It’s possible that sayings like these were more in fashion in the old days, like when I was a boy. Language evolves, and American English has certainly changed in the interim. Maybe I’m being nostalgic.

Here’s the list that I came up with:

Hard as nails.
Older than dirt.
Healthy as a horse.
Poor as a church mouse.
Cute as a button.
Smart as a whip.
Dumb as a rock.
Ugly as sin.
Pretty as a picture.
Blind as a bat.
Quick as a cat.
Strong as an ox.
Old as the hills.
Dead as a doornail.
Clear as a bell.
Black as coal.
Bright as the sun. (For intelligence.)
Quiet as a mouse.
Sharp as a tack. (Also for intelligence.)
Thick as a brick. (Indicating a lack of intelligence.)
Right as rain.
Clever as a fox.
Clear as mud. (If not clear at all.)
Sleep like a baby.
Sleep like a log.
Hot as a pistol.
Cool as a cucumber.

I’m sure that there are a lot more. If you remember some that I’m forgetting, maybe you could leave them in a comment. 

(Be sure to read the comment. My friend Michael seems to have a great memory for these things.) 


MichaelDooley said...

Also overheard frequently in 1950s College Point but not much since then...

fit as a fiddle.

thick as thieves.

dry as dust.

clean as a whistle.

fresh as a daisy.

busy as a bee.

proud as a peacock.

mad as a March hare.

rare as a hen’s tooth.

snug as a bug in a rug.

sick as a dog.

fighting like cats and dogs.

looking like something the cat dragged in.

looking like the cat that ate the canary.

eating like a horse.

sounding like a broken record.

running like a bat out of hell.


Next up: complete this sentence with as many vanishing idioms as possible:

“You’re about as useful as...”


fred c said...

Or, "as cold as a witch's . . ."

Some of them are not so polite.

Like, "(do something) like a bunny."

Thanks for the contribution, Michael.