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My Southern Grandmother's Expressions
by Sherry Hill

Sayings for Everything Under The Sun and More from Charleston, West Virginia
[Expressions of my grandmother ~ M. L. V. W. Morgan/ 1892-1971]


A whistling girl and a crowing hen will some day come to some bad end.
We dry our hands together and we’ll be friends forever.
We were so poor I couldn’t buy the echo off of a steamship.
Might as well die for a whole sheep as well as a lamb.
You are sick; don’t get up and fan around.
She has a country mouth.
Colder than a well digger’s ankle.
A new baby: There goes yesterday’s gleam in someone’s eyes.
Youngsters should not spark on the front porch.
Woman, thy name is vanity.
If you cross your eyes, they will stay that way.
Never pretend that you are dead while playing; it will happen to you.
If the house is not clean, the health inspector will come and get us.
The television is being turned off right now; you are not going to look at Elvis Presley.
Too much rouge.
A nice girl never goes to the skating rink on a Saturday night.
I am just fixing a dirty bite to eat.
Stand still while I pin the rest of this hem on your skirt.
A good seamstress always takes little bites of thread – not big ones. And never double the thread . . . ever.
A young lady always carries a handkerchief in her pocketbook.
Vick’s Vapor Rub will make your cold better; wash it off in the morning or you’ll get pneumonia.
Better watch out: those potatoes have eyes and can see you.
You do not take food or drink with you while walking down the street.
Cats always take the best seat in the house.
Always put slipcovers on while damp or they won’t fit.
Be careful hanging clothes on the line; the neighbors will watch to see if they're hung right.
Don’t skimp on curtains; use a double width or more. Skimpy curtains make one look poor.
Shake a leg.
Shut the door on the icebox.
Don’t jump on the divan [sofa].
Your arms are so long that you have a boarding house reach.
A woman never looks good with blue or purple hair.
You sit here and help me tally up the laundry.
Music keeps you alive.
You’re my little jellyroll.
Always take in the cushions for the outdoor furniture every night.
Those bangs look like Mamie Eisenhower.
Quit plundering in the buffet drawers.
As snug as a bug in a rug.
Nice girls do not pierce their ears.
A lady never goes out without her pocketbook.
As nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.
Finding a blue robin’s egg is good luck.
Don’t bang the screen door.
You are letting the flies in the house.
Never wash dishes in cold water.
The Gold Dust twins have been in this house.
Always put in a pinch of sugar while cooking vegetables.
Jello is made from the ears of a horse.
Never put clean curtains up on dirty windows.
Use more elbow grease.
Opals are bad luck to wear if they are not your birthstone.
The more the Christmas decorations outside, the less happiness inside.
Half of a hot water tank for flowers is disgusting.
Never plant flowers in the front yard; they are for the sides of the house and the backyard.
I am P H U L.
I danced so hard my feet almost fell off.
I have shelled out too much money.
Her hair was as black as a crow.
Don’t wish your life away.
Beat the tar out of those rugs.
If you swallow watermelon seeds, you will get sick.
It’s as crooked as a dog’s leg.
Those who say that they can’t eat a bite, end up eating everything in sight.
Them that has gets.
Troubles abound if your feet aren’t on the ground.
You must have a hollow leg – you eat too much.
You must have a tapeworm – you eat too much.
Mackeral sky, mackeral sky. Not long wet, not long dry.
My ship has not come in.
Fool’s names and fool’s faces are always seen in public places.
Don’t drink from someone else’s glass; you’ll get trench mouth.
If you lie down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.
He’s as tight as the bark on a tree.
He is spit-bucket Dutch.
She’s cheap as a Cracker Jack prize.
He cusses like a drunken sailor.
Hotter than the fourth of July.
The sidewalks closed up at seven o’clock.
He’s going to the green bean store [liquor store].
The grass is a high as a cow’s ear.
The snow is as high as a cow’s ear.
The snow is peppering down.
You can’t buy class.
Beware of people with beady eyes.
He has shifty eyes.
He smoked like a furnace.
Didn’t know which end of his cigar was lit.
A woman who tells her age, tells everything.
Keep the pantry filled up.
When they run you out of town, get in front and make it a parade.
Hinton is up the river. [Hinton is a town in West Virginia.]
Little pitchers have big ears.
She’s as mad as a hornet.
If you’re going deer hunting, are you going after the two legged kind or the four legged kind?
See you in the funny papers.
They don’t put pockets in shrouds.
You can’t take it with you.
Heavens to Betsy.
He belongs in Spencer. [The name of a town but in this case it refers to a now closed mental institution.]
Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.
If you play Bridge in college, you will fail school.
Safe as a babe in arms.
There are two things in this life you can’t do anything about – high water and ignorance.
[And to add injury to insult: “You don’t look like a flood!]
A bird in the house is a sign of death.
It’s just my old house dress.
These garters are too tight.
A lady always wears a hat and gloves when going to town.
Do not chew gum in public.
Of dark eyes: Your eyes are like two black shoe buttons.
Button up your mouth.
Keep it under your hat.
Still waters run deep.
If you have measles, wear sunglasses or you will go blind.
Don't swim for an hour after eating. If you do, you'll drown.
In the summer, never sit on the piano bench with shorts on; you will leave marks on the bench.
It’s going like “Gangbusters”!
Have you been putting henna on your hair?
He was my beau.
She has legs like a piano stool.
I am having a vapor attack.
You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
When snow lies on the ground, it is waiting for more.
If the dog hadn’t stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.
Never leave dirty dishes in the sink at night.
Like two peas in a pod.
Shake, shake, shake the ketchup bottle; first will come a little, then will come a lottle.
A woman who tells her age will tell anything.
Never tell a man everything.
If you put all men in a bag and shake it up, they’ll all come out the same.
Of my grandfather: “They broke the mold when they made him.”
Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?
This place looks like Tobacco Road.
Don’t take any wooden nickels.
He keeps turning up like an old penny.
A penny for your thoughts.
Something is rotten in Denmark.
You have to wash a scruffy neck.
Never hang a picture close to the ceiling if it is over a lower object.
The day was as long as a three day rain.
Rain before seven, stops at eleven.
When you can see the backs of leaves, it is going to rain.
Another day, another dollar.
Of my cat: “She thinks she is the Queen of Sheba.”
All in a day’s work.
Don’t put the carriage before the horse.
Too little, too late.
Some days you can’t pick up a wooden nickel.
You are in a pickle. [i.e. trouble]
"Trade last" - I'll say something nice about you; then you say something nice about me.

Alice, where are you going? Upstairs to take a bath.
Alice, with legs like toothpicks, neck like a giraffe.
Oh, my goodness! Oh, my soul!
There went Alice down the hole!


Read Sherry Hill's shorter article on Southern Expressions: CLICK HERE

And read many great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.



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