From My Idiom Attic

Raining Cats and Dogs - OpenClipart-Vectors ( (i-dē-ə-ˈma-tik)  adjective  1. Of or relating to idioms. 2. Peculiar to a particular group or person. 3. Place in Mitch’s head where he stores old idioms.

Idiom (ˈɪdɪəm)  n  A phrase which cannot be understood from the meaning of the individual words it contains, for example, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

My mom introduced me to idioms when I was a kid by using them frequently. When I was misbehaving (roughly 23 hours per day), she would warn me that she had eyes in the back of her head. The-Shining-Jack-Nicholson-Through-Door-394x394I can still picture them peering out at me. And in the evenings, she would ask me to go “stick your head through the door and tell your father dinner’s ready.”

Years later, my circle of friends included a roommate from the Netherlands named Constant who knew very little English. But that didn’t hinder him; he’d just transliterate colorful Dutch idioms. In the midst of a conversation he’d say something like, “Yeah, that’s like handing your uncle a fish while he’s riding a bicycle.”

Another foreign-born friend, an adorable woman from Bulgaria named Yolly, was fluent in English, but used delightfully quirky imported idioms. For example, she would often tug below her eye and say, “See any boats?” I finally asked her what it meant. She said the phrase and accompanying action were used whenever anyone over-explained something. In fact, the idiom was so common in her country that the eye-tug was usually all that was needed.

She didn’t know the idiom’s derivation, but we figured it must mean something like, “Do you think there’s no brain in my head, just a lake with boats floating around in it?” For years after that, I’d tug on my eye when anyone over-explained something. Just so I could tell them about my wonderfully idiomatic friend Yolly.

What are some of your favorite idioms?


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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43 Responses to From My Idiom Attic

  1. As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
    So skinny he could hide behind a picket fence.
    Attic light’s on, but nobody home.
    Pointing to head, nodding and saying, “Kidneys!”

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Bosnians call someone “tikva” (their word for gourd) for someone who’s empty-headed.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Biting off more than I can chew. Back to the drawing board… the ball is in your court!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pastor Randy says:

    Like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest

    Liked by 3 people

  6. anitashope says:

    How about “His elevator doesn’t go all the way up”

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Todd R says:

    Lancelot: I will send help as soon as I have accomplished a daring and heroic rescue in my own particular…
    Concorde: Idiom, sir?
    Lancelot: Idiom!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This post was fun, but I’m a little confused by the title. From My Idom Attic — is the spell check disabled on your computer?

    My favorite idiom:
    A Woman’s Work is Never Done . . . So Why Bother? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I remember a few my dad used to say:
    That’d be a wild goose chase.
    Kill two birds with one stone.
    Make hay while the sun shines.
    You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My favorite is “You can’t have a battle of wits with an unarmed man.” My dad had a friend who used to say, “He’s so crooked, he’d steal [poop] from a lame chicken.”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A few from downunder:
    Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick
    Flat out as a lizard drinking
    Mad as a cut snake
    Don’t spit the dummy / He spat the dummy
    Take my/your bat and ball and go home
    The shit hit the fan
    May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door down

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Tim Harlow says:

    That was great! I was laughing about you misbehaving 23 hours per day. One of my old favorites is “ants in your pants.” Another idiom I use frequently to describe someone who isn’t too bright is “the elevator doesn’t go all the way up.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve thought this: A picture is worth a thousand words
    I’ve felt this: There’s no rest for the wicked
    I’ve seen this: Blind leading the blind

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thotaramani says:

    Break a leg.
    It’s a piece of cake dear

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Daniel Kemp says:

    Don’t jump your fences before you get to them.
    Never argue with a fool. They will never understand when they’re wrong.
    And one that is probably a bit on the obtuse side— You can’t pull your socks up if you’re not wearing any!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. We have an eye tug idiom in Italian. Using the correct finger to perform the tug is imperative as the gesture takes on a whole new meaning. It’s wonderfully subtle and physically natural while being as direct as one can get.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Pam Webb says:

    This is why I run my “How Cliche” posts—why do we say what we say? Stay tuned for “I” sayings…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thotaramani says:

    It’s nice to shoot the breeze with you…

    Liked by 2 people

  20. In the Uk if you think someone is messing you around or trying to wind you up then we say “Stop pulling my chain” 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ann Coleman says:

    It’s not an idiom, but I remember my grandmother’s favorite saying (to misbehaving grandchildren) was, “Stop those monkeyshines or I’ll get the yardstick!” In all the years I new her, she never once “got the yardstick.”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I can almost hear my dad saying (as I was standing in front of the tv), “You make a better door than a window!”

    Liked by 1 person

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