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"Prettier than a blue-nosed mule."
"slicker (or cleaner) than a hounds tooth."
"Slipperier than snot on a glass doorknob"
"Colder than a well-digger's feet in Alaska"
"dead as a doornail"
"poor as a churchmouse"
"fit as a fiddle"
"quiet as a mouse"
"looks like the cat that a swallowed the canary"
"Uglier than the east end of a horse headed west."
"like a fish out of water"
"can't put a square peg in a round hole"
""The cow is out of the barn."
"slower than molasses in January"
"as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs"
"scarce as hen's teeth"
"as busy as a one-armed barber with the hives"
"knee high to a grasshopper"
"thigh high to a mule"
"cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"
"Runnin' around like a chicken with its head cut off."
"Lying like a snake in the grass"
"jumping from the frying pan into the fire"
"like the kettle calling the pot black"
"lies like an old rug"
"tough as shoe leather"
"cuter than a speckled pup"
"dumb as a load of coal"
"can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear"
"may be small but he's wound tight"
"shaking the dew off the lily"
"It takes a big boy to whip a little man"
"smell bad enough to stink a dog off a gut wagon"
"a wit of the nit type"
"don't let your mouth run off til your brain's in gear"
"finer than frog hair"
"shinier than a new penny"
"grinning like a Cheshire (Chessy) cat"
"a knife so dull you could ride it to New York"
"a chip off the old block"

RE: Colloquialisms

"He may be dumb, but he's ugly."
"Busy as a whore on Friday night."
"Busy as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest."
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."
"The whole nine yards."
"Don't take any wooden nickels."
"Looks like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down"
"Her face could stop a clock"
"dumber than a bucket of rocks"
"Two tacos short of the special"
"Elevator doesn't go to the top floor"
"Lights are on but nobodys home"
"Not the sharpest knife in the drawer"
"One sandwich short of a picnic"
"Don't have both oars in the water"
"Couldn't pour piss out of a boot without instructions on the heel"
"So old he farts dust"
"He'd be late for his own funeral"
"He's got a little hitch in his gitalong"
"More fun than a barrel of monkeys"
"As exciting as watching grass grow"
"More boring than watching paint dry"
"He could mess up a wet dream"
"Milked that project so long that its turned to cheese"

RE: Colloquialisms

Many of them are obvious ("ugly as the west end of an east bound horse"), but some represent very specialised language moving into the mainstream.

"The whole 9 yards" is a reference to a very good coal miner being able to fill a mine cart by himself in one shift (the cart was of course 9 cubic yards in volume).

"Runnin' around like a chicken with its head cut off."  When I was a kid on an Arkansas farm we used a hatchet to harvest chickens and they really do run quite some distance without their heads.

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."  You really can tell the age of a horse by the condition of his teeth - it is ungrateful to try to determine the age of a gift horse.

Any others with non-obvious meaings?


RE: Colloquialisms

Quote (zdas04):

"The whole 9 yards" is a reference to a very good coal miner being able to fill a mine cart by himself in one shift (the cart was of course 9 cubic yards in volume).

Hadn't heard that one, but I have heard the following:

"It goes back to the construction industry who bought concrete by the cubic
yard. A concrete truck held 9 yards and, if you bought the entire truck load, you got the whole 9 yards.

"The argument is that a three-masted ship had three yards on each mast for the square sails, making nine in all. So that a ship with all sail set would be using the whole nine yards."

"It is said the .50 calibre machine gun ammunition belts in Supermarine Spitfires measured exactly 27 feet. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, they would say that it got “the whole nine yards”."

There are also stories about how it takes 9 yards to make a man's 3 piece suit, or a proper Scottish kilt, the size of the B-52 bomb bay, and many, many others.  I'll bet we can devote an entire thread to just stories of where "the whole 9 yards" came from.  I don't think anyone knows for sure.

RE: Colloquialisms

"One too many forks in the toaster"

RE: Colloquialisms

"He would lose his head if it wasn't attached"

RE: Colloquialisms

"Not playing with a full deck"
"The light's on, but nobody's home"
"Elevator doesn't go to the top floor"
"Not the sharpest knife in the drawer"
"A few fries short of a Happy Meal"

RE: Colloquialisms

Holy cow!
I had heard that the whole nine yards came from medieval times when tailors needed a 9 yard roll of cloth to make a frock for a franciscan monk.
Maybe someone was just pulling the wool over my eyes!

RE: Colloquialisms

One brick shy of a full load

Handier than a pocket on a T-shirt

Finer than a frog hair split three ways (this works for toolmakers)

But please please tell me how a doornail gets dead!  I have been dying to know this for years.   

Jesus is THE life,

RE: Colloquialisms

I have heard two explanations of "dead as a doornail".

The first one goes back to the days when doors were equipped with knockers and the nails use to hold the knocker would be beat on the head so many time during the life of the knocker that the nail would be dead several times over.

The second is from the carpentry term "clinching", which is involves flattening out the sharp end of the nail after being nailed into place.  It prevents the nail from being pulled out, thus killing the nail as it can never be used again.  It is believed that doornails were often given this treatment to strengthen them as this was done before screws became available.

Which, if either, is correct is anybody's guess.

RE: Colloquialisms

Picking up on the headless chicken (zdas04), it's not just that the chicken runs for quite some time - it actually runs round in completely random directions, getting nowhere and achieving nothing.

Hence this saying is frequently directed towards management.

RE: Colloquialisms

Good one, I especially like the "random directions, getting nowhere and ahcieving nothing" part of the description of management.

I just did a Google search on "the whole 9 yards" and found a good write-up at http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/nineyards.htm
the long and short of it is that the first documented use of the term was in the 1960's and the the timing is wrong for any of our explainations to carry much weight.

This view is supported at http://www.yaelf.com/nineyards.shtml
and other sites all say about the same thing - this phrase is very recent (late-1950's, early 1960's) and came from the U.S.  Beyond that it is simply conjecture.


RE: Colloquialisms

Just a slight reality check on one of the possible sources for "the whole nine yards" was supposedly the ammo load on fighter planes from WWII.  

Based on a rather crude guess from a photo I ran across, the 400 round load on the Mustang primary gun looks to cover slight less than 24 ft of ammo belt, not quite even 8 yds.  

To top that off, the Corsair is famous for its ammo capacity, which was around 2400 rounds for its 6 guns.  But that works out to around 140 ft of ammo.


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