4.08.2013

Family Sayings


I've been collecting family sayings for several years now. I know what I have so far is far from comprehensive let alone complete. But if I wait any longer, I will never get this entry published, so I'm going ahead, and will add more as they are remembered.

My family used other sayings too, as many of us do.  What I tried to do here was to collect those that I had either not heard outside my family, or at the very most, outside my hometown area (regional). There are always variations of sayings, and you may recognize some but know them a bit differently.  I provide meaning where I think meaning is not obvious, or unclear.  For those that should be clear, I do not.
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THE SAYINGS
Wiggle wart (can't sit still)
Doesn't have a pot to piss in (poor) 
Put (or stick) that in your pipe and smoke it (derives from the very widely held, not entirely erroneous, belief that pipe-smoking and meditation go together; used after stating something surprising or undesired, to emphasize its truth - also used after refuting an argument....)
You can't squeeze blood from (or out of) a turnip (in other words, you can't get something out of nothing)
I don't know whether to shit or go blind (slang for confusion in the face of too many options) 
Hell bent for election (or leather) (in a hurry)
Deader than a door nail (for sure dead)
Deader than a door knob (see above!)
That's all she wrote (done, finished, and/or dead)
It puts hair on your chest (good for you)
It doesn't rain but it pours (trouble coming in batches)
The cat's out of the bag now (meaning you have revealed a secret)
Dropping like flies (failing, quitting, etc. quickly and/or in bunches)
Doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground OR doesn't know shit from Shinola (a shoe polish) (ignorant know-it-all)
From pillar to post (being moved around a lot, feeling unwanted or lost)
Going to hell in a handbasket (or hand basket) (well on your way to ruin)
In one fell swoop (all at once)
A fox smells his own hole first (flatulence)
If it isn't one thing, it's another (consistent problems arising)
My get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went (no motivation)
That's like a pot calling a kettle black (being a hypocrite)
I don't know him from Adam's off ox!  (meaning someone is not known to the speaker in any capacity)
Another day, another dollar (working hard for hardly nothing)
Snug as a bug in a rug (comfortable)
I need that like I need another hole in my head! (unwanted problem or unnecessary purchase)
You do what you have to do, and you find a way (Mom and Grandma)
It's a hard row (or road) to hoe (dealing with something difficult)
That's the nigger in the woodpile (meaning that's what the problem is...) - NOT politically correct, but it WAS a real saying of our family! Also defined as "some fact of considerable importance that is not disclosed - something suspicious or wrong"
It's a corker (hot outside)
He doesn't miss a trick(if someone is quick thinking, inventive, or can think on his feet - especially if it's where he or she makes a buck from it or finds some other advantage - you say he or she doesn't miss a trick)
Takes to it like a duck to water (quick learner)
He's full of piss and vinegar
He doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground (someone who thinks he knows, but doesn't)
He doesn't know shit from Shinola - that's why his shoes are always brown (see above)
He (or she) thinks her shit don't stink (thinks they are better than others)
Colder than a witch's tit (VERY cold)
Fiddlesticks (frustration expletive)
Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth (someone who thinks they are better than others; superior attitude)
Slower than molasses in January (very slow  or lazy person; a procrastinator)
...cat covering a hardwood floor
..fart in a mitt hunting for a thumb hole
...fart in a whirlwind
The more you stir a turd the more they stink.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder---for someone else. (Grandpa Fitzpatrick said this)
Let dead (or sleeping) dogs lay (Why bring that up)
Too pooped to pop!
Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. 
That boat has sailed! (it is too late)
Shit or get off the pot! (make a decision!)
Don't piss into the wind.
My get up and go has got up and went
She has a hitch in her getalong
They were talking so non-stop, each interrupting the other but neither minding, that you couldn't get a word in edge-wise (or edge-ways)!! 
 From my cousin Delphine come these:
My Mom (my Aunt Pat) used to say, "In Minnesota you have 8 months of winter and 4 months of tough sledding"  (meaning the summers aren't always all that good either - rain, more rain and cool...) 
Mom used to say when she wanted someone to do something and it wasn't done right away, "They always wait til the last dog is hung" or in trying to get someone to do something period "It’s like pulling teeth from a chicken to get him to do it." 
"They are so poor they don't have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of." Mom used that one a lot. Also "they are so dumb they don't know where the bear shit in the buck wheat". I went to say this one time and I messed it up and said "where the bear shit in the wheat bucket so from then on they all used that. 
"Why don't you quit running around like a chicken with its head cut off?" 
Mom seemed to take a good fall about once a year and fell down steps or tripped and went right on her face. I think my dad made this one up as he used to tell Mom "Well if you would quit taking off like a big-assed bird" Mom and I never did figure out what a big-assed bird was. 
Remembered one both our Moms use to say - "A watched pot never boils." I remember your mom making fudge whenever us kids were all there and she wouldn't let us stand and watch the fudge as she always said "A watched pot never boils and we will never have fudge it you keep standing there waiting for it to boil." LOL 
Also your mom if the kitchen was messy would clean it up before she would start to cook anything as she would say, "I can't work in a hand basket." 
Some particularly interesting ones:

Stay until the last dog is hung is at least as old as the Civil War and was very common in the postwar West. It meant to stay until the bitter end. In recent times, the phrase usually refers to overstaying one's welcome at a party. The origins of this expression are obscure, but some etymologists speculate that it may refer to an actual activity. In medieval and early modern Europe, animals were sometimes hanged for "crimes" such as killing livestock or biting someone. Both dogs and cats were publicly hanged. What dog is hanging was a seventeenth-century way of asking what all the excitement was about, and Give a dog a bad name and hang him has been a familiar maxim since at least the 1700s. Whether dog hangings happened in nineteenth-century America is unclear. Another possibility is that the dogs referred to were human. Rustlers, gun slingers, and other such "dirty dogs" were routinely strung up from the nearest tree in frontier days, often without benefit of finicky refinements such as trials.
http://www.vintage-vocabulary.com/lastdog.html

If you haven't seen someone in a long time, you say, I haven't seen him in donkey's ears (or years)
http://everything2.com/title/donkey%2527s+years - Donkey's Ears is rhyming slang for years

And finally...Our family would say we were unthawing meat, not thawing meat