I find that at my age, and especially when I’m not feeling up to snuff, I resort more and more to the vernacular of my youth.

Below I’ll write what someone would say nowadays, and then what we might have said in the old days…

“Stop having a tantrum.”
“Stop having yourself a hissy fit.”

“Please come back and visit us again.”
“Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?”

“What’s done is done.”
“Ain’t no point beating a dead horse.” 

“You’re being irrational.”
“Your too hard-headed to mess with.”

“Oh really!
“I declare!”

“I’m really angry.”
“I’m so mad I could spit.”

“You don’t sing well.”
“You couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

“Oh, yuck.”
“That would gag a maggot.”

“You missed the target.”
“You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”

“I’m really surprised by that.”
“If that don’t take the cake.”

“Is that right?”
“You don’t say!”

“I’m really frustrated with you.”
“You’re about to worry me to death.” 

“That poor man is not handsome.”
“He looks like he’s been beat with an ugly stick.”

“Really?”
“Oh, my stars!”

“I don’t think that’s worth it.”
“That ain’t worth diddly-squat.”

“I haven’t offered you a refreshment.”
“Where’s my manners?”

“I’d like that.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”

“You seem unhappy.”
“You look about as happy as a tick on a fat dog.”

“What is that noise out there?”
“What’s that racket out yonder?”

“I don’t care.”
“I don’t give a hoot.”

“You’re going too slow.”
“Quit poking around and come on.”

“I’m really tired.”
“I’m just tuckered out.”

For fun, please add your own favorite sayings in the comments.


 


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  1. Old phrases have been coming back to me for about a year now. And I write them all down in a little book so I don’t forget them. Because I like to use them. So, I’ll write some more down that I have remembered. This one came to me a year ago, the very first one and I just love it!
    “Time to pay the piper” — to bear the unfavorable consequences of one’s actions
    “As thin as a rail” — very very skinny
    “Mellowing out” — to relax
    “He’ll just flake out on my couch” — fall asleep
    “I found the Motherlode” — a great prize or fortune
    “You trying to wake the dead??” — to be extremely noisy or disruptive
    These are just some of them…and I have more
    From the very far North in Canada…

    1. I was “mellowing out” on my friend’s new couch, it was so comfortable.
      I was “as thin as a rail” when I got back from India in 1996. Got dysentry and lost 30 lbs!! He told me later that he was shocked when he seen me.
      “All dressed up to meet your Maker.” means you want to be dressed in your finest clothes when you meet god. When you die. I was at a funeral in W. Africa and the man in the open coffin was dressed like a king!!!! All dressed up to meet his Maker.
      “A brush with death” means a near accidental encounter with death; an incident in which one comes very close to dying. My guy friend recently got covid…didn’t have it too very long…and then suddenly, he was covid free!! So, he had “a brush with death.”

  2. “Hold your horses, man!” meaning wait a goddam minute.
    “I put a hex on you” and make a cross with one finger of both hands. To curse someone. I remember doing that in my high school days.
    You “Indian giver!” when you give someone a gift and then ask them to give it back. I think I’ve done that quite a few times.
    The “c-u-r-s-e” You know what that is!!!!
    “Don’t throw your pearls before swine” Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. They will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
    Witchy Woman

    1. I’ve had lots of fun reading all your old expressions. Lots I remember and lots that are new to me. Hilarious!!! These are a few I remember that I wrote out. From the very far North in Canada!!!!

  3. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
    “Quicker than you could say, ‘Jack Robinson.'”
    “What in the Sam Hill are you doing?”
    “Tain’t funny, McGee!”
    “What in tarnation are you doing?”

    I got most of these from my mom, who passed away (many years ago). I’m now nearing my 70s and try to remember them so they don’t die out. A simpler time and place. I have many more, they just won’t come to this old brain right now. Sigh.

  4. All phrases I grew up with and still use:

    Let's cut a rug. (Let's dance)
    She's so ugly she could scare a buzzard off a shit house.
    Uglier than a mud fence.
    Nuttier than a fruit cake.
    Rode hard and put away wet.
    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
    You've got more problems than a pay toilet in a diarrhea ward.
    You're got more problem's than Carter's got pills. (After hearing this for years, my mom finally explained who Carter was lol)
    I'm sweating like a whore in church.
    It's colder than a well digger's butt.
    You're slower than molasses in winter.
    He doesn't know his butt from a hole in the ground.
    Dead as a door nail.
    You catch more flies with honey.

    That's all I can remember at the moment, but I sure do get some odd looks when they come out of my mouth LOL

    I hope you're feeling better, my friend. I'm obviously catching up with you at the moment.

    xo,
    rue

  5. I laughed till I cried! I had my husband laughing too. This was a great post. Laughter is good medicine. My grandpa used to say,"Eat your spinach. It will grow hair on your chest." I wondered why being a girl that I would need chest hairs! My mom said if she had a brain she'd be dangerous. Also, if she had a brain it would rattle. I'd forget my head if it weren't attached. Referring to forgetfulness. My mother in law would say, If you get hit with a bucket of crap, make sure you close both eyes. That was reference to when the chamber pots were being dumped out the window. Oh my goodness what fun! Thank you, Brenda!

  6. I love your blog! I have a few old country sayings.

    Whoop off over there meaning turn there.
    Tender as a mans eyeball used to refer to tender meat. Don't know why but I've heard it all my life.
    Crookeder than a dog's hind leg.
    I ain't seen him in a coon's age. – long time
    Prettier than a speckled pup under a red wagon.

    I have a ton of these sayings. Thanks for letting me share.

    Sheila

  7. As mentioned by another commenter, bless your heart has different meanings based on context and tone. Here are a few I heard growing up in the deep South…he ain't got the sense God gave a billy goat…Lord willing and the creek don't rise…she is so ugly she could sit on a tombstone and hatch a haint…his face would make a train take a dirt road…
    Thanks for the memories.

  8. What a fun post, Brenda. I've heard most of the ones above, but I know there are some other ones that I used to hear growing up, but do you think I can remember them? Although one I remember is "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear", when someone or something was shabby or beyond help. I remember my grandma saying that. She also said about someone she tho't was uncouth, incompetent or lazy, etc. "He's/She's a horse's patoot." Or there's "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" when someone is focussing on only one source of an outcome for a particular situation. Or,"Don't count your chickens before they hatch" if you're assuming something will turn out a certain way when it may not. Can't think of any more right now but I sure did enjoy reading all the ones submitted.

    Oh, I know one more if someone has visited you or met you on the street and they are leaving, one of you might say, "Don't be a stranger, now," meaning "come back to see me."
    I hope you are feeling tons better. Laughter is healing, you know, and some of these sayings sure made me laugh! And I guess I did remember some after all!

  9. One that made me laugh when I was a kid (somewhat from embarrassment and somewhat from the visualization) was the saying that something or someone was as useless as "teats"–(only teats wasn't the word they said) on a boar hog. I didn't grow up on a farm, but my parents did.

  10. Most of these are not familiar…I think that every region in the USA must have their own! 🙂 Now, HISSY FIT is familiar to here ( southwestern PA ) and TAKE THE CAKE , and Tuckered Out ( usually referred to a tired child ) but that's about it! 🙂 This was fun : )

  11. Oh, I just thought of one, my great grandma would say , "you want to be sure your house is clean before you go to bed, you never know when you will need to call the doctor or the undertaker during the night." Heaven forbid if you had a messy house!

  12. I have heard all these. I just love the little saying that have been carried from generation to generation. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I grew up in southern Ohio, which is a mostly rural area that has been settled by people from eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. So there is a rather old-fashioned twist to the language. I heard the following sayings when I was a child in the 1960s, but still hear most of these sayings when I visit in this area nowadays:

    There were – and still are – a lot of exclamations of Lawdy lawdy, and Lawd have mercy, and Law-zee, which are all based on the word Lord.

    If someone didn't have money, they were as poor as Job's turkey. If someone could move fast, they were as fast as Chester's cat. They also might be as mean as a snake, as crazy as a June bug, and as pretty as a red hen.

    If someone stopped by to visit, they'd be invited to sit a spell and take a load off their feet. When the visitor said they needed to leave, they'd be told, “Now don't rush off.” I was puzzled by that saying when I was young. I thought the visitor was being told, “Now don't brush off.” I wondered if they were dirty, and were being told not to brush the dirt off in the house.

    If someone was going to go out for a ride in their car with no real destination in mind, they would say they were going to go loafing, or go loaf around. I was puzzled by that saying too. The only other time I heard the word loaf it was about a loaf of bread. So if someone was going loafing, I wondered if they were going to get some bread at the store.

    Here's the best example of modern versus old-time language I have — once I was talking to my maternal grandmother about a relative who drank too much alcohol. I referred to this person as an alcoholic. My grandmother got indignant and said, "He's not an alcoholic! He's what we used to call an old drunk!" Frankly, I thought the latter description sounded just as bad as the former, but I guess they had different meanings to her.

  14. "You're in the dog house now" when you've done something to be ashamed of.
    "No use crying over spilt milk".
    "It cost and arm and a leg". Very expensive.
    "Mutton dressed as lamb." A culinary play on words ( dressed) referring to older woman.
    "I've got a bone to pick with you" when you're going to hear a complaint.
    "Bless your/his/her heart. " Can mean different things. Must refer to the context in which it is used.

  15. Ha ha, well with both my parents being from Ireland we had some unusual expressions growing up, also.
    It's not off the grass she licked it or anything.
    Where would you be going with no bell on your bike and your drawers ringing?
    Lady muck from clobber hill.
    A galloping horse won't notice.

    I could go on and on…..

  16. My dad loved thrift stores, I guess that is where I got my love for them, following him around on his jaunts. When the sales clerk would ask him if he needed help, he would just say: "Oh, I am just browsing around" and now I find myself saying the same thing.

  17. when something is shocking … "land o mercy!"
    when welcoming a guest … "come on in and set a spell" never sit. always set!
    both from my Southern grandmother.
    and from my New England grandmother … especially when I was complaining about my hair or some other vain thing (in her opinion!)
    she would say "oh tammy. that would never be noticed from a passing horse!"
    I used to think… "well for pete's sake gram… WHO will be riding on a passing horse!!!"
    she's the one too who taught me what everyone knows … "use it up. wear it out. make it do or do without" pure yankee philosophy! I pretty much live with it to this day. and I still don't like stuff just for stuff sake.
    this was a fun post. I hope you're feeling better!

  18. There's more than one way to skin a cat. I said this when I was teaching and it always horrified my students. Tuesday, while working at the polls, another poll worker used that same expression. It tickled me so much.

  19. Its so cold outside that it would freeze the balls off a pool table. LOL
    I wished I would have had my mother write down many of the old sayings. Thanks Brenda for bringing them back. I have heard most of the ones you have written down.

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