Old Fashioned Phrases From My Youth

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."

"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.



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. One saying I heard from my grandmother a few times is "S/he looks like s/he was dragged through a knothole backwards"
    I enjoyed reading all yours!

  5. Older woman dressing in clothes meant for younger gals: mutton passing for lamb.

  6. We must have grown up in the same area. I know all of these and still say most of them.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.....

  9. "Well let me pour you a saucer of milk" ... when someone is being catty. I enjoyed reading these!!

  10. Thanks for the good laugh this morning!

  11. "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.

  12. When we'd arrive home from school disheveled & dirty: "You look like something that cat dragged in."

  13. My favorite, I use it at least once a day...
    Instead of,"you're not making any sense",
    That's just crazy talk!

  14. These are so funny! I have heard many of them before, use some and have learned something new! I hope that you are feeling better.

  15. Well, I didn't just jump off the turnip truck..in reference to hearing something new fangled. Like one has not had any experience in life :)

  16. Heavens to Betsey! I've got the little ones saying that too!

  17. Isn't that just the cat's meow? something neat.
    As Mad as a wet hen.
    .........and I also heard many of the sayings you mentioned!

  18. "S/he was on it like a chicken on a June bug." or..
    "s/he was lookin' at it like a bull at a new gate."

  19. 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.

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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 : )

  23. Thanks to all for bringing back good memories.

  24. I love "Don't sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff"

  25. 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.

  26. My Granny used to say, "you kids get out of my hair", when we were driving her crazy!

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. My favorite when something vexing happens... that would make a preacher cuss!

  30. When you want someone you disagree with to leave; "don't let the door hit you on your a$$"

  31. 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.


  32. 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!

  33. 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.



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