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augustlan's avatar

What are some common sayings that are very outdated?

Asked by augustlan (47715points) February 26th, 2012

A friend noted that the phrase “sounds like a broken record” is now archaic. I mentioned that “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” could use an update, too, since those certainly aren’t common names anymore. Is anyone still named Dick? Are there others you can think of?

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73 Answers

RareDenver's avatar

If you cannot understand my argument, and declare ``It’s Greek to me’’, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is farther to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then – to give the devil his due – if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then – by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness’ sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! – it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

Bernard Levin

lemming's avatar


If you are in rural Ireland, where I’m from, you would here people (a lot) saying ‘ye’ for the second person plural…‘are ye going to the cinema?’...I always thought it was just slang, but one of my language lecturers told us the other day that it’s actually old English and they don’t say it in England or the US. It’s like ‘here ye here ye!’

Keep_on_running's avatar

I now pronounce you Man and Wife.

Just wrong.

YoKoolAid's avatar

“Welcomed with a ticker-tape parade” – The parade itself isn’t outdated, but I’d say the term ‘ticker-tape’ is.

flutherother's avatar

@lemming We say ‘ye’ in Scotland too. We used to say ‘going to the flics’ for going to the cinema but that word seems to have died out.

LuckyGuy's avatar

“He’s so dumb he doesn’t know Sh*t from Shinola.”
Shinola was a shoe polish. A relative of mine, born in the early 1910’s, used to say that often.

ucme's avatar

Eeh, i’ll go to the foot of our stairs.

Trillian's avatar

‘Til the cows come home. Staying until the last dog is hung.(I never actually heard anyone say this, I saw it in a Peanuts cartoon, and of course I never forgot it.) The road to hell is paved with good intentions.(My mom says this all the time, and now so do I. Thanks mom.) You’ll be laughing out the other side of your face.(Another one of my mother’s frequent sayings, though I also saw it in O brother, where art thou?) Run out of town on a rail.(My mom’s friends said this about a teacher I had when I was a kid, and of course they actually did it in O brother, where art thou?...My dad’s brother is named Dick, by the way) Once in a blue moon. I have lots of old sayings in my head, I guess from reading old books. I generally keep them to myself, so thank you @augustlan, for allowing me to drain off some excess.

flutherother's avatar

“Like looking for a needle in a haystack”. – You won’t even find that haystack today.

bkcunningham's avatar

They thought it was better than sliced bread.
Do it by the book.
She has an ax to grind.
It was black as pitch.
Until the cows come home.
That and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee.

ragingloli's avatar

“the land of the free”
it is really a common joke now.

blueiiznh's avatar

“how about you kiss my ass”

kiss/suck my arse/ass—mid-16th+. One citation: Chaucer, Miller’s Tale : “But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers.” From “Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang” by Jonathon Green (Wellington House, London, 1998). Page 699.

WhiteWingDove's avatar

I love this question. There are times that I have heard some of these phrases conveyed to younger people, where if said younger person does not say “Huh?” I do call the older speaker out and say (for example) “Do you even think they know what ‘shinola’?!” It does drive me batty when people do not take their audience into consideration (I have 3 college age offspring, and have to play mediator/translator).

Some of the above phrases do have no meaning, but others like ‘Needle in a haystack’ I do think can still be visualized by most people. In general I agree, it’s always best to temper your conversation to your audience, to really ‘pack a punch’. (Oops, is this one outdated, or back in fashion due to the fad of cage fighting?)

By the way, my Father still introduces himself as ‘Dick’ (much to my chagrin).

The phrase that I find outdated/ineffective is:
“If I had a nickel for every time…...”
I think this went back to when a nickel actually bought something substantial… a sandwich or at least a cup of coffee.

jca's avatar

@Trillian: I find most men whose nickname is Dick are usually over 60. Most younger “Richards” are “Rich.”

filmfann's avatar

I call a lot of guys Dick, though that may not be their name.

To “drop a dime on someone” meant calling the police by using a payphone, which cost the dime. Payphones now are 25 cents or more, IF you can find a payphone anymore.

@augustlan Don’t be afraid to give yourself a “Question of the Day” for this!

CWOTUS's avatar

“dialing” a phone in general
“drop a dime” in reference to making a phone call (via a dime-operated pay phone) to report a crime
“all across the dial” in reference to, say, a car radio that had an analog representation of the possible tuning selections

Keep_on_running's avatar

[non-mod says] This is our question of the day!


cookieman's avatar

Recently, I said “Well, that and a dime will get you a phone call home”.

My daughter says, “Why would I need a dime to make a phone call?”

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s raining cats and dogs.

tom_g's avatar

“but at the end of the day…”

- worst phrase in the history of human speech

Hain_roo's avatar

Hold your horses
I’ll fix your wagon!
Hold the fort
Wicked pissa
An ax to grind

thorninmud's avatar

A radio story recently reminded me of a couple. These are from the days when pipe organs were a common feature of movie theaters and churches:

“Pull out all the stops” meant to open the valves that divert air to all the various sets of pipes in the organ.

“All the bells and whistles” meant an organ that came equipped, quite literally, with various bells and whistles for sound effects.

Blackberry's avatar

“I’m saving my virginity until marriage.”

filmfann's avatar

Turn the Channel on the television.
Back in the day, televisions had dials to change the station. You would actually turn the dial. These new digital jobs have no such appendage.

zensky's avatar

Once in a blue moon, over the moon, to the moon and back, ask for the moon, promise the moon, to moon about something, to think someone hung the moon (and stars), to be over the moon, many moons ago…

Hain_roo's avatar

That and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee.

linguaphile's avatar

Mind your P’s and Q’s— it is a phrase from hand-set type printing where the P’s and Q’s were mirrors of each other, were next to each other in the wooden tray and could easily be switched when set into the printing press, so to mind your P’s and Q’s meant to pay attention.

We don’t even have to go that far back. Some 80’s and 90’s phrases go way over today’s kids’ heads.

wilma's avatar

Can’t cut the mustard. Not referring to the yellow stuff you put on a sandwich, but rather the weed that was tough to hoe out of the bean field.

Jude's avatar

The word “epic”.

CWOTUS's avatar

Back to the drawing board… not since AutoCad.

CWOTUS's avatar

Clean slate / wipe the slate clean – no one uses slate (or chalkboards, or chalk) any more. Nowadays it’s all dry-erase boards.

CWOTUS's avatar

An E ticket ride.

I don’t know how long it has been since Disney graded the tickets for their attractions at their theme parks, but it has been a long time.

YoKoolAid's avatar

Riding Shotgun

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Dial 555 1212.” When was the last time you saw a phone with a dial? (We actually have one. An old, heavy black one from the 50’s. Brings back SO many memories when I spin the dial! I’m waiting for my husband to hook it up. It still works.)

dappled_leaves's avatar

In the red
Between you, me, and the lamppost
Have a field day
A clean slate
I’ll keep you posted

A lot of people have misread the question. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@CWOTUS already said it. Sorry!

linguaphile's avatar

Carte blanche (blank check)

Bounced check will be outdated really soon—very few places accept checks.

Kardamom's avatar

What in tarnation!?

Be a dear and fetch me a pop from the icebox.

Penny for your thoughts? (now you’d have to use a credit card of paypal)

That’s so easy, it will be a walk in the park. (Today, parents won’t send their kids to the park by themselves, because they’re so worried about molestors and child abductions and gang activity and even if they are in the park, they won’t just be walking or playing, they’ll be engaged in organized soccer or little league).

She looks like a dimestore hooker. (now you’d be more likely to say that she looks like a typical highschool student, if you were referring to the same look)

Ron has always gotten by, by riding on Bob’s coattails. (sounds kinky)

Ron and Alice are sleeping together. (that doesn’t sound very kinky)

That really takes the cake!

I take my hat off to you, Sir. (the only hats being worn these days, are backwards baseball caps, and skateboarding kids who wear knit ski hats in the middle of summer, and they never take their hats off, not even in church)

Dutchess_III's avatar

The rabbit died.

flutherother's avatar

I’ll save it on a floppy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Or microfiche.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

“Father knows best.”

Kardamom's avatar

You’re really gonna get it when your father comes home.

Unfortunately, father may not exist, or father might not “come home” until it’s his weekend for custody, or father’s girlfriend is the one who will punish the kid, instead of daddy.

Haleth's avatar

This thread reminds me of the Married to the Sea comics. Red sky at night Cheesed off Axe to grind

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Haleth Hah! Those are fun – and in turn, they remind me of Glen Baxter.

augustlan's avatar

Great answers! This was a lot of fun. :D

bkcunningham's avatar

It was a lot of fun, @augustlan. I love threads like this. It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

linguaphile's avatar

Just heard my mom in my head, “I’m going to have a toddy.” Does anyone still use that?

lloydbird's avatar

It’s raining Datsun cogs.

woodcutter's avatar

The word swell. Like when someone used to say “that is swell” .

cookieman's avatar

Or “Peachy Keen”.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yeah, “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry” should be changed to “Every Caden, Nolan, and Grayson.” :P

@cprevite Hey, I still like saying, “peachy keen” and “cool beans”, LOL!

cookieman's avatar

I use “cool as a moose” quite often.

lloydbird's avatar

” The world is like a box of chocolates.”

GracieT's avatar

@linguaphile, I thought that the phrase “mind your p’s and q’s was from the bars where alcohol is sold in pints and quarts. Thank you for showing me the other source!

Dutchess_III's avatar

My husband says, “Well, that’s just finer n a frog’s hair!” I find myself using it…good or bad, I don’t know!

CWOTUS's avatar

Setting the value of a photo at 1000 words. With photoshop and other image editing tools, photos aren’t worth much at all.

CWOTUS's avatar

A penny for your thoughts. Really? A penny? Someday after the penny is discontinued, pennies will be worth a lot more than “a penny”. Worthless thoughts will still be worthless.

zensky's avatar


cookieman's avatar

…with a spoon.

zensky's avatar

Ok, fine, fer sure fer sure.

CWOTUS's avatar

What ever. Dude.

cookieman's avatar

That is so grody to the max.

zensky's avatar


YoKoolAid's avatar

I triple dog dare you

linguaphile's avatar

Olly olly oxen free!

zensky's avatar

Up your nose with a rubber hose.

Twice as far with a chocolate bar.

Dutchess_III's avatar


CWOTUS's avatar

For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to… declare War”.

From the Wikipedia article about “Declaration of war”.

chemistkat58's avatar

23 skiddo
I’ll be a blue nose gopher
Your not just whistling Dixie
You can say that again
A whistling girl and a crowing hen always come to some bad end.
Cry when you need to, laugh when you can.
I don’t try to explain to people why I ride a Motorcycle.
It is better to be a little lonely than to be a whole lot miserable.

chemistkat58's avatar

Do I have to pull this car over?

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