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  • ChicagoBoyz “Saying or Adage” Contest

    Posted by Dan from Madison on June 13th, 2009 (All posts by )

    I absolutely love sayings.  One of the most universal ones is “when pigs fly”.  Another is “look before you leap”.  Also “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

    Maybe “saying” that isn’t the best term for them.  Are they adages?

    Lets see.  Per Mirriam Webster an adage is:

     a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation

    And a saying is:

    something said ; especially : adage

    So maybe they are adages.  Anyway, I love them and find many of  them very entertaining.  Here are some that I use practically every day:

    Dumber than a box of rocks.

    Not the brightest light bulb in the marquee.

    Busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

    Busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

    Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

    If you have a good saying, adage, cliche or other type of quip you would like to share, please drop it in the comments.  The most colorful and funny ones will win  hearty congratulations from me personally. 


    35 Responses to “ChicagoBoyz “Saying or Adage” Contest”

    1. Socal Bill Says:

      He’s about as sharp as a dull knife.
      He’s a half a bubble off center.
      Well tie me to an ant hill and slap my belly with jam.
      So pretty the boys will be flockin round her like chickens
      round a June bug.

    2. Ginny Says:

      then there’s James Rummel’s: Not making eye contact doesn’t make you invisible.

    3. Tatyana Says:

      I, too, am interested in the subject. What’s the difference between proverb and adage?
      That “no free lunch” one always make me think of another one; it sounds something like “free [government?] cheese could only be in a mousetrap”.

    4. Magycian Says:

      My mom had one that has been in the family for a while. Still use it at times.
      “No hill for a stepper”

    5. Paul von und zu St. Paul Says:

      Two sandwiches shy of a full picnic basket.
      Hot as a jackass in a pepper patch.
      Mad as a hatter.
      Mean as a snake.
      Cool as a cucumber.

    6. Dan from Madison Says:

      When pointing out something obvious: “Does a bear sh1t in the woods?”

    7. capitano Says:

      Some people would complain if they were hung with a new rope.

      (A favorite of Texans commenting on chronic whiners and the irony of complaining about a rough, scratchy new hangman’s rope given the circumstances.)

    8. Dan from Madison Says:

      That person’s elevator doesn’t quite go to the top floor.

    9. capitano Says:

      “That’ll break him from sucking eggs.”

      Characterizing a hard lesson learned, as in putting cayenne pepper on freshly hatched chicken eggs to discourage “egg sucking dogs” from making a meal of them.

    10. capitano Says:

      “freshly laid chicken eggs” (chicks probably wouldn’t appreciate the cayenne pepper either).

    11. tyouth Says:

      Time is money (although, IMO, time may be undervalued in this general equivalency).

    12. Jimbino Says:

      I call the new ones aphorisms and the old ones clichés.

    13. John Burgess Says:

      He’s smiling like a fox eating sh*t off a wire brush

      C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre

      To defend everything is to defend nothing

      The best terrain for armored warfare is the one with the fewest anti-armor weapons

      OMG, WTF!?

    14. david foster Says:

      “When ideas fail, words come in very handy”


    15. James R. Rummel Says:

      Ginny was kind enough to quote me above. But there is one that I like to use around people who support more nanny-statism.

      “The world is a whore. You gotta pay.”


    16. Mitch Says:

      “She’s as plain as the back of a tool shed.” This usually has “bless her heart” appended to take the sting out.
      “A blind man running for his life would never notice it.” (This was a favorite of my grandfather’s.)
      “He’d be in over his head in a moist towelette.”

      Variants on other sayings:
      the yogurt of human kindness
      Give the EU an inch and they’ll take a kilometer.
      Money is the root of all.

    17. Laura(southernxyl) Says:

      You could have an entire subset of sayings of mothers who are angry at their children.

      My mother: “I’m about to cloud up and rain all over you!” or after a spanking, “That’s not a drop in the bucket to what you’re gonna get!” Or the ever-popular “Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about!”

    18. Shannon Love Says:

      I’ve always been partial to, “about as independent as a hog on ice.” I especially like that one because no one seems to know exactly what it means.

    19. setbit Says:

      I’m not sure if we’re talking about adages in the proper sense — sayings that contain advice or an observation about life — or just colorful turns of phrase, but here’s some of both


      “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”
      “Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.” (Extra nerd points if you recognize the two sayings that this comes from.)
      “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16b, NKJV)
      “Marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.” (Obviously a minority viewpoint these days)
      “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” (This was the unofficial motto of my college choir.)
      “First Rule of Holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.”

      Turns of phrase:

      “Slicker’n deer guts on a doorknob”
      “Flatter’n p*ss on a plate”
      “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”
      “Dude, you’re harshing my mellow.”
      “Does the Pope sh*t in the woods?” (Another conflation of two sayings, from an old Steve Martin album)
      “Everything is either mandatory or forbidden, and sometimes both.” (I’m not sure if I heard this somewhere or if I made it up myself. In either case it describes pretty much all bureaucracies.)

    20. Dan from Madison Says:

      Setbit – your pig saying reminded me of one – You can put lipstick on a pig, but it still a pig.

    21. setbit Says:

      Dan – that, in turn, reminds me of another animal metaphor:

      “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

      This is generally attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but I’ve never seen the quote properly sourced. It’s very handy because it can be invoked to support almost any position you’d care to take. It’s most effective with people who already know the adage, because you can just quote the first part to make your point.

      Another one I just remembered. Use it in response to any comment that begins “If only…”:

      “If I had four wheels and a bell I could be a trolley car.”

    22. Dan from Madison Says:

      Heh Setbit, the “if only” reminded me of an old one my grandfather used to lay on me when I was little.

      If I wanted something and said “I hope we can go here, or I hope we can get this” he would reply “Put hope in one hand and sh1t in the other and see which one fills up first”.

    23. MisterBixby Says:

      Some of my favorite turns of phrase:
      “I’m sweatin’ like a whore in church.”
      “as welcome as a fart in an elevator”
      (I’m proud of having coined this one): “I’d be on that like a white tiger on a gay magician!” Of course, it’s thoroughly insensitive, and the shock value will wear off if it ever gets beyond my usage…

      As an engineer, I get to use this one quite a bit:
      “Ok, you want it done? I can get it done. I can do it quickly, cheaply and right. You get to pick any two out of the three.”

      Attributed to Thomas A. Edison: “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb” I misremembered this one’s phrasing.

      “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

      And there isn’t room enough in all of cyberspace for Lincoln’s wisdom.

      “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

    24. David Avera Says:

      You seldom get in trouble for something you didn’t say.

    25. Stan Says:

      My wife’s old Computer Science Prof. on fancy software tools, but is generally useful.

      “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

      Mark Twain?
      “Never argue with a fool. People might not notice the difference.”

    26. Stan Says:

      “A closed mouth gathers no foot”

    27. Stan Says:

      “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment.

    28. Lexington Green Says:

      Any fool can learn from his mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

      (attributed to Bismarck)

    29. Laura(southernxyl) Says:

      Patton paraphrase: A good plan, executed today, beats a perfect plan executed at some indefinite point in the future.

      Or as my mother put it, Do something, even if it’s wrong.

      Also, Yogi Berra (I think): If you see a fork in the road, take it.


      In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.

      I use this one ALL the time.

      Me: Don’t tell me “should” and don’t tell me “ought”! (in response to “this ought to work” or “that shouldn’t be happening”.)

    30. lordsomber Says:

      “‘Good intentions’ are no excuse for bad results.”

    31. Jack Diederich Says:

      “The difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is two weeks.”

      “Does the water ripple when a duck farts?” [auto-mechanic, he had a thousand more I wish I could remember]

      “There is a fine line between being The Man and being That Guy” [my personal motto in college]

    32. setbit Says:

      Actual conversation between me and my wife.

      Me: Some of these sayings are hilarious. Listen to this one: “I’d be all over that like a white tiger on a gay magician.”

      Her: That’s awful!

      Me: Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to be offensive: “Illusionist”.

    33. Dan from Madison Says:

      There are a lot of good ones here, but the tiger/illusionist seems to be the best so far. So hearty congratulations go to Mister Bixby.

    34. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      I’ll offer a couple:

      “Everyone has freedom of choice. No one has freedom from consequences, regardless of how much they want it.”

      From Sniper School:
      “Don’t Run, you’ll only die tired.”

      From working for the government for too bloody long:

      “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, administrate. Those who cannot administrate, legislate. Those who cannot legislate, adjudicate.”

      Subotai Bahadur

    35. Dan from Madison Says:

      I used another one today, “hitting on all cylinders”.