Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I remember several of these little phrases!!!!

I have used many of them.......... how many do you remember?


'I'll just give this a lick and a promise,' my

mother said as she quickly mopped up a spill on the floor

without moving any of the furniture.

'What is that supposed to mean?' I asked as in my

young mind I envisioned someone licking the floor with his

or her tongue.

'It means that I'm in a hurry and I'm busy

canning tomatoes so I am going to just give it a lick with

the mop and promise to come back and do the job right later.

'A lick and a promise' was just one of the many old

phrases that our mothers, grandmothers, and others used that

they probably heard from the generations before them. With

the passing of time, many old phrases become obsolete or

even disappear. This is unfortunate because some of them are

very appropriate and humorous. Here is a list of some of

those memorable old phrases:

1. A Bone to Pick (someone who wants to discuss a


2. An Axe to Grind (Someone who has a hidden motive. This

phrase is said to have originated from Benjamin Franklin who

told a story about a devious man who asked how a grinding

wheel worked. He ended up walking away with his axe

sharpened free of charge)

3. One bad apple spoils the whole barrel (one corrupt

person can cause all the others to go bad if you don't

remove the bad one)

4. At sea (lost or not understanding something)

5. Bad Egg (Someone who was not a good person)

6. Barking at a knot (meaning that your efforts were as

useless as a dog barking at a knot.)

7. Barking up the wrong tree (talking about something that

was completely the wrong issue with the wrong person)

8. Bee in your bonnet (To have an idea that won't let

loose )

9. Been through the mill (had a rough time of it)

10. Between hay and grass (Not a child or an adult)

11. Blinky (Between sweet and sour as in milk)





12. Calaboose (a jail)

13. Catawampus (Something that sits crooked such as a piece

of furniture sitting at an angle)

14. Dicker (To barter or trade)

15. Feather in Your Cap (to accomplish a goal. This came

from years ago in wartime when warriors might receive a

feather they would put in their cap for defeating an enemy)

16. Hold your horses (Be patient!)

17. Hoosegow ( a jail)

18. I reckon (I suppose)

19. Jawing/Jawboning (Talking or arguing)

20. Kit and caboodle (The whole thing)

21. Madder than an old wet hen (really angry)

22. Needs taken down a notch or two (like notches in a belt

Usually a young person who thinks too highly of himself and

needs a lesson)

23. No Spring Chicken (Not young anymore)

24. Persnickety (overly particular or snobbish)

25. Pert-near (short for pretty near)

26. Pretty is as pretty does (your actions are more

important than your looks)

27. Red up (clean the house)

28. Scalawag (a rascal or unprincipled person)

29. Scarce as hen's teeth (something difficult to


30. Skedaddle (Get out of here quickly)

31. Sparking (courting) NOW I LOVE THAT!

32. Straight From the Horse's Mouth (privileged

information from the one concerned)

33. Stringing around, gallivanting around, or piddling (Not

doing anything of value) My Grandmother used to say "just Piddling, now my Mom says it all the time.

34. Sunday go to meetin' dress (The best dress you had)

35. We wash up real fine (is another goodie)

36. Tie the Knot (to get married)

37. Too many irons in the fire (to be involved in too many


38. Plum tuckered out (tired and all worn out)

39. Under the weather (not feeling well this term came from

going below deck on ships due to sea sickness thus you go

below or under the weather)

40. Wearing your 'best bib and tucker' (Being all

dressed up) NEVER HEARD THAT ONE...

41. You ain't the only duck in the pond (It's not

all about you)

42.....Now I need to add one.

My grandmother was not a cussing woman, never heard her say too many bad words.

Her favorite when things would go wrong was Flidder Dick.

I can still hear her say that today. Where did she get that?

Anyone else ever hear that?

Well, if you hold your horses, I reckon I'll get this

whole kit and caboodle done and sent off to you. Please

don't be too persnickety and get a bee in your bonnet

because I've been pretty tuckered out and at sea lately

because I'm no spring chicken. I haven't been just

stringin' around and I know I'm not the only duck in

the pond, but I do have too many irons in the fire. I might

just be barking at a knot, but I have tried to give this

article more than just

A lick and a promise


valerie said...

I always loved to hear my Nannie's sayings. You came up with a bunch!

One time a teacher I knew did something fun with her third grade class. She'd start a phrase like...."You can lead a horse to water, but ____________" and they'd have to finish. It was so much fun to read their responses because the kids had never heard of half these phrases. I wish I had a copy of that.

I ate a lot over the weekend.
A friend made us a coconut cream pie!!!!
I wasn't very good over the weekend, but was back to it yesterday. I got on the treadmill this morning for 20 min. !!
How about you? I think of you often & keep you in my prayers.
Take care of yourself!
P.S. I'd love your thoughts on the question on my blog. It's been interesting.

Annette said...

I can remember some of those...my Dad when he was alive would say "His or Her elevator don't go to the top floor" meaning they where just a little unstable mentally, now when I get upset and would like to say a curse word, the sweet holy spirit wont allow it I say "Sugar" instead of...well you know, I remember once I told my daughter when she was very little "You better stop, or I'll put the fear of God in you" and her sweet innocence response was "O.k., I don't fear God, he's nice"
Thank you for the remembrance.
Love ya

Shirley said...

Hi Denise,
Loved the post. I remember a lot of those sayings. Brought back memories of grandma. Some are still said around here, like "I reckon" and "a lick and a promise". I'm the guilty one. Trouble is.....I don't always keep my promise. lol

katie said...

Loved your post, I do remember alot of those. One I remember my mother using was. antegogglin. being not exactly straight.
You made me smile with memories.

Linda said...

Denise, it was fun reading these oldies. I still use some of them and I remember all of them except #6 and #10....cause I no #23.....lol. Hugs, Linda

Donetta said...

Goodness, my mother was from the hills of Tenn. I still use so many of these. It was so fun to read it like this. I had not really thought of my manner of speech so. I use 28 of the 41 on my I held on to the past Ha!
Today at Bible Study a beautiful gray haired rosy eyed elder said to me...Now may I just pray that God even heals that...
Asking for the simple things to God that seam a hard thing to us.
His will be done.
I hope I did not offend before

Tracy said...

Wonderful memories are brought to me when i read some of these sayings. It is so amazing that just a simple saying our grandparents, or even parents said will bring us back such feelings of love and memory for these people. Hugsssss

JC said...

Great post. Brought back memories and a smile to my face. Thanks.

Mary said...


I still say some of these things and the boys tell me I'm old fashioned. Some that I say are:

No spring chicken.
Plum tuckered out.
Feeling the weather.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
Little rascals.
Madder than a wet hen.
Ants in your pants.
Hold your horses.
Hold onto your pants.
Bee in your bonnet.

And more... the boys have told me no one talks like that anymore and I've told them, "Well, your Grandma does." LOL

Thanks for the memories. My Dad and grandparents said many of these also.


Just Joni said...

I love these! My mom was and is famous for saying her fair share of these idioms. I hope these old sayings don't ever completely fade away...they have so much meaning in history...thanks for sharing so many, I really enjoyed this!

With A Grateful Prayer And A Thankful Heart said...

Good Morning! My first visit to your place and I found this fun list of sayings ~ many of which I heard growing up. I enjoyed reading your post.

Kindly, ldh

Angie said...

Denise--that WAS FUN! I needed those sweet reminders of some of the things my mamo and granny used to say.!! LOVED it!

When I said a few of those to a sweet northern friend she was lost as a goose!

Yesterday I told my baby girl, April I was "broker than a haint". I probably misspelled "haint"...but do you know that one??