Family Sayings, or Idioms for Idiots


Last week, I was reading a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Pam at Catching My Drift. Read her blog for her beautifully lyrical take on life. She wrote about the origin of phrases, and in particular, the saying “staying until the last dog dies.”

I was surprised that I had never heard that saying before. When I was growing up, expressions like this were tossed around by my parents – especially Mom – on a regular basis.

My family is a brood of goofballs, with a rich history of silliness and sarcasm. My Mom had a sharp, irreverent wit. I can picture the little smirk on her lips when she’d pull one of the saltier maxims out of her repertoire. Reflecting on her favorite sayings, she cussed more than I realized.

There’s that mischievous look! If there was something funny to say, you could count on Mom to say it.

Thanks to Pam, I’m now curious about where some of these phrases come from. I’ve got some research to do.

Here are some of my favorites, brought to you by fond memories of my cheeky Mom:

In response to our whining or wishing for the unattainable:

“Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up first.”

Commenting on hypocrites:

“People living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Talking about people who come out okay no matter how stupid their actions:

“She falls in shit and comes out smelling like a rose.”

Describing somewhere far away or hard to get to:

“Three miles from where Christ lost his sandals.”

Commenting on some of our relatives’ most prominent features:

“Noses run in our family.”

Regarding arrogant individuals:

“He acts like his shit don’t stink.”

When I was arguing with my brother or sister (said deadpan, while not looking up from what she was doing):

“Fight nice, kids.”

Whenever a buzzer or alarm would sound:

“Don’t give your right name, it’s a raid!”

If she was afraid children would overhear something they shouldn’t:

“Shhh. Little pitchers have big ears.”

When someone wouldn’t shut up about something she felt was BS:

“You talk like you’ve got shit in your hat.”


“Rave on cat shit. Somebody’ll come cover you up.”

There is one that is by far my favorite. We often joked about who among the family was the biggest martyr. Trivial things, like getting stuck eating the bruised apple or the piece of cake that had fallen over would illicit our feigned martyrdom. The one forced to sacrifice would let out a heavy sigh and say facetiously:

“It doesn’t martyr… I mean matter.”

These were all part of our day-to-day language. I still catch myself using some of them on occasion. Not only do they bring back fond memories of my childhood and my parents, but I like the idea of keeping this linguistic history alive.

Have you heard these expressions? Share some of your own!

13 thoughts on “Family Sayings, or Idioms for Idiots

  1. I have heard quite a few of these! 🙂
    I love “It doesn’t martyr… I mean matter.” I’ve never heard that one before!

    “Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up first.” is awesome too! Although a little sad…

    My mum used a lot of the old boring ones “a stitch in time saves nine” or “too many cooks spoils the broth.” There is a lot of truth in them though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are great! I’ve heard some of them. My father used to say, “he/she flew off like a big-assed bird” or “off in a pile of canary dust” – I wish I could remember more of them, because there were quite a few!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never heard those! I think some are very regional in nature. I just love the variety and creativity of stuff like this. I find the origins fascinating. I just thought of one that a coworker used to say when she’d stumble over her words: “My tongue got tied around my eye teeth and I couldn’t see what I was saying.” haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These are all great – some I’ve heard – but not all. Your mother sounds like she was a lot of fun, and not much got past her. My mother used to say, “Everyone is a bit odd except you and me, and sometimes I wonder about you.” It made me laugh every time she said it.

    Liked by 2 people

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