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Say what?

l''ll go to the bottom of our garden... er well duh! Where do these weird and wonderful phrases come from?? I stopped myself about to say this today as it made no sense. Contextually or otherwise. Got me thinking. It doesn't make sense, though l think l remember the context in which it was often used; gobsmacked or surprised.

you could blow me down with a feather! you could, well that's a sires. get it?

Well l'll go to the top of our stairs - why where else would go on stairways?

I get philosophical quotations and literary quotations... not because l'm particularly clever, or that I paid attention in lessons. Cos l didn't. It's that their meaning is hidden within the text. Usually. But in these colloquial type of quotes or sayings, the meaning is a tad more difficult to burp.

Being, as oft mentioned here, that I am a list maker of Antarctic proportions- no not cold, but vast expanses of nothingness, might well apply here. I have a book where I collect phrases, potential blog ideas and titles, great words or metaphors and similes. Useful. But some old sayings are nonsensical.

Life is just a bowl of cherries! - not if cherries gives you diarrhea ? Or an ideal? Mine would be raspberries, but it doesnt have the same ring to it!

Heavens to Betsy- what gives there then? Betsy was our old dog, but who was the original Betsy? Boop?

It will be in the last place you look. - the place I looked before I lost it? or the last place I will look in, cos then I'll find it... if l knew where that was, how is that?

At bedtime l have heard Mums and myself say to our toddlers, ' up the stairs to Gregory' now that is weird or worse! Who is Gregory and why is a stranger upstairs in my kids room? A sinister edge here?

Don't pull that face, cos if the wind changes you'll stay like that.' Scare mongering? Bribery?

and these few are more obscure in origin, that  l daren't try and work them out in contempoary times

...a bums rush'- used in the context of getting a raw deal

..going to wet my whistle - often heard on the way to the lavatory! WTF?

.. mind your P's and Q's...! - watch your language

There must me hundreds of them. Come on do share!


  1. My Kentucky-raised mother liked to say, "Goodness gracious sakes alive!" Even she didn't know what it meant.

  2. I quite like 'Tell it to the marines!' What gives them special privileges?

  3. Funny post! I've never heard the saying about the garden - that's a new one for me.

  4. how about-

    Between me,you and the gatepost

  5. Funny Sazzie, and got the old memory box going...actually what I used to say was 'up the stairs to Bedfordshire' which makes a tad more sense, though Bedfordshire doesn't exist, does it?

    How about: the hair of the dog. Shanks'pony,Going to hell in a handbasket, Best foot forward, All over bar the shouting,Forty winks, keep your hair on, Taking the Mickey [who he?] All fingers and thumbs[of course we are] and so many more.

  6. "Heavens to Betsy" was later replaced by "Heavens to Murgatroyd". Apparently Murgatroyd and Betsy had it out in an alley in the back of some bar and Betsy lost.
    The meaning of these expressions are quite clear, if you speak these words you are old, very old, and will no doubt embarrass your children.
    Gotta run, I have to see a man about a horse!
    X David

  7. I've only head "wet my whistle" in reference to getting a drink .. which makes enough sense to me. The visit to the lavatory was always coupled with David McGreivey's comment.. last line.

    My Granny used to tell me that she'd fix my horse and wagon. That's when I knew I was in trouble.

  8. It's raining cats and dogs! Where did that come from? I do know about the 'swinging a cat' thingy, but it still sounds bad.

    To make it even better: how about this Dutch saying (translated into English of course): The monkey comes out of the sleeve now. No idea where it comes from, but it means something like: the truth is out now!

  9. One of my dad's faves is " rare as rocking horse shit" - love it. Or how about " up before sparrow fart " I think I might be lowering the tone here....

  10. my mother says "yee gads" to exclaim surprise about something not nice - it "drives me round the bend". Hubby says "flat out like a lizard Drinking". "Black o'er Bills Mother's" is my favourite or possibly "we'll be holidaying at Ourgate this year"


  11. Wet your whistle means going for a drink....... doesn't it?

    The bowl of cherries should be....... Life is just like a bowl of ...chocolate!
    Well, strike me down.
    Its late..... G/night!

    Nuts in May

  12. I was reading about "I'll go to the foot of our stairs" recently. It has an origin but I'm buggered if I can remember it now!

  13. Within the US there are words and phrases that are unique to an area (a drinking fountain is a "bubbler" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), as many of the phrases you list must be British, as I have never heard them. With the internet and television, the uniqueness may be lost as we will all speak alike-a real loss. Here, there are those who say, "Good Gravy!", or my mother's favorite, "Oh, piffle!"

  14. hahaha, i feel the same way about cherries. don't give me the runs but not my favorite fruit.

    now, when i had my library references course i learned there is such a thing as a dictionary of idiomatic speech. i daresay i spent a fair amount of time in that particular volume just for curiosity's sake. i bet your local library has one as well.

  15. Funny, I have never heard several of these :)! West coast American... Bleh!

  16. You could knock me over with a feather is how I have heard it, and my late friend Raymond abhorred the 'you'll find it in the last place you look' he'd say of course you will because once you find it you stop looking! 'Wet your whistle' was always in having a drink context here .. but 'see a man about a horse' ref'd to going to the loo ...

    And my late mom often said 'if your face freezes like that it will be something only a mother could love'

  17. "Well l'll go to the top of our stairs - why where else would go on stairways?"

    I suppose it's going back for a another bite at the cherie. Michael Quinion's website is de rigueur for answers to these sorts of questions. My own favorites:

    She was all over me like a rash.

    He was sitting alone, just drearing his weird.

  18. Great stuff, Saz. I love phrases like these, and I especially got a kick out of many I had never heard before (being a bumpkin from America and all.) "Up the stairs to Gregory"? Perhaps it goes back to one of the Popes, Gregory The Great? Not too sure of his timeline, whether before or after the break from the Catholics in your country.

  19. "It will be in the last place you look."

    I always thought that it meant "the place you'd last think of looking" - because things that get lost usually hide in some forsaken spot. Like keys in the fridge. My kids still get a laugh out of that one. ;-)

  20. I always liked "fit as a fiddle," "dead as a doornail," and "fine as frog hair!"

  21. Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs, I could have sworn it was Heavens to Murgatroyd!!!

    Thinking of you,

  22. Oh, Saz, I am Queen of The Cliche, but would you Adam and Eve it, I can't think of any just now!

    And incredible to think that so many of these I've never heard!

    Loved this, looovvve you! Fhi x

  23. Oh, such fun, Saz!!! Haven't heard some of these in ages!! I love them! Let's see...the only thing that comes to mind at present is something my Dad always Polish...roughly translated, it was this: "Where you put it, that's where you'll find it." Used to really aggravate me...stating the obvious like that...Now, I probably say similar irritating things to my son...LOL...Loved this post! You're wonderful! Love, Janine XO

  24. Love this post. And that bowl of cherries is gorgeous!! Amy (my daughter) takes every literally and would be waiting patiently for me to actually go to the bottom of our garden. I'm not sure where the bottom would be though!

    CJ xx

  25. Just thought of one my Mom always said to me when I was a child and had messed up my clothes and become dirty. "You look like the wreck of the Hesperus!" I have no idea if I've spelled it correctly, or what the Hesperus may nave been :-)

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. mind your p's and q's is an old bar maids saying. it means to mind your "p"ints and "q"uarts- like a warning to behave as if you can handle your liquor.

    a few from my neck o the woods...

    "he was all over me like a duck on a june bug"


    "the roads are slick as frog snot"

  28. Can't find your singledom post. It's on my dashboard but Blogger says it doesn't exist. Can you post it again please, I think I may need to read it!

  29. sorry folks...I withdrew it, thought it was too er direct and personal in its current form...will repost when feel it can reach all readers and not be inflammatory...if you get my cautious drift....

    saz x

  30. I really enjoyed this post... and your blog! I recently wrote a reflection on colloquialisms... a topic which endlessly fascinates me. Was thrilled to find a couple of new (to me) gems here. :) I'm sure I'll be back for more... have a lovely week.

  31. I love browsing your website because you can always get us fresh and awesome things, I feel that I should at least say a thank you for your hard work.

    - Henry


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Thanks for stopping by!

Take the weight of your feet, draw up a chair and pour yourself a cuppa. Leave your troubles at the door and together we shall ride out the storms.
I will walk a while in your shoes...

Saz x

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