Volume V, No. 2, Winter 1977

This Speech of Outs

People used to say that kissing a man without a moustache was like drinking milk without the cream. I've heard many descriptive expressions like this to explain unhappiness, "I'm down in the mouth," or growing older, "I can't turn off the work like I used to." These expressions put in a little shake of sugar and a tiny dab of spice to our way of speaking.

Do things up in brown rags. (nice)

Have no truck with. (nothing to do with)

I'll put the big pot in the little one. (make a good dinner)

I'd have to have a step ladder to kick a duck in the hiney. (down in the dumps)

If you have a loop hole. (if you have room)

Pack her around. (carry her)

Now you're cooking with gas. (doing things right)

Where hoot owls roost with the chickens and the women cut wood. (backwoods)

There's a bug in the meal. (something's wrong)

We love homespun comparisons. Why not emphasize stinginess by saying, "He's so tight he would skin a flea for its tallow"? or--

Sneaky as a snake in the grass.

Shiny as a pewter nickel.

Right as rain.

Bark like a pup at a root.

Good as the day is long.

Tough enough to plow forty acres with a mule and go coon hunting that night.

Bleeding like a gut shot Commanche.

Cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey.

So big you couldn't throw a fly line around her.

Thick as crows at a hog killing.

Crooked as a barrel of snakes.

Takes to you like a hog after persimmons.

Our speech is full of front porch philosophies. After a good meal on a lazy Sunday afternoon, someone is likely to yawn and comment, "I'd stretch a mile if I didn't have to walk back," or--

That's life. If it isn't chickens, it's feathers. (good times or bad ones)

He hasn't got quitting sense.

What crosses the Devil's back lands on his belly. (meanness will catch up with You)

It's the squeaky door that gets the oil. (those that complain get attention)

You better toe the line or walk the chalk. (do what you're supposed to)

He's got enough money to burn a wet mule.

A blind horse can't see any troubles. (like an ostrich with his head in the sand)

I've had many a sack the string busted on me. (comment about someone who thought he had something in the bag, like an election, but didn't)

I'd be pleased as punch if you would send me expressions you have heard or use. Caryn Rader


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