Category Archives: Colloquialisms

Here you will find “old wives tales”, superstitions and famous sayings. From “Three is the Magic Number” to language “hooks” like “of the people, by the people, and for the people. Definition: an informal word or expression which is more suitable for use in speech than in writing

666 – Number of the Beast

Vicarius Filii Dei
Vicarius Filii Dei
Known as the Number of the Beast, the number 666 is associated with Satan in Christian tradition. Accordingly, it’s seen as an omen of bad luck, to the point where Ronald Reagan changed his street address from 666 to 668 after moving out of the White House.

Fear of the number 666 is based on passages in the final book of the Bible, but according to Biblical scholars, the “beast” in Revelations doesn’t actually refer to Satan. Instead, it’s used to denote Rome, Roman emperors, and Roman forms of worship at a few different points in the book. 

This has led some anthropologists to believe that the author of the text was actually referring to Emperor Nero; when the Greek spelling of “Nero Caesar” is translated to Hebrew, the letters add up numerically to 666.

I was also the number of Angels Archangel Michael had to defeat the devil. 

Superstition – walking under a ladder

Man walking under a ladderAside from being literally dangerous — what if something falls on your head? — walking under a ladder is considered bad luck for largely symbolic reasons. Early Christians believed that the number three was sacred for its connection to the Holy Trinity, and by extension, so was the triangle. When a ladder leans up against a wall, it forms that very shape, and walking underneath it “breaks” the Trinity. Not only was this blasphemous, but it might also attract the Devil himself.
Continue reading Superstition – walking under a ladder

One for the money – Blue Suede Shoes

One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat go… That was Carl Perkins with Blue Suede Shoes. But where did the phrase come from?

Elvis Presley - Blue suede shoes 1956

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes and The Phrase Finder cite a horse race poem that is likely the source of the phrase. In horse racing, the winners are termed:

  1. Win
  2. Place
  3. Show

The omission of “place” is noted in The Phrase Finder. This is likely poetic license, to make a short rhyme, used to start a race or event.
Excerpt from The Phrase Finder post:
In “The Annotated Mother Goose” p 259 the following rhyme is included:

“One to make ready

And two to prepare

good luck to the rider

And away goes the mare.”

And origins from Google Books.


I “kid you not”

Jack Paar

Jack PaarI “KID YOU NOT” – Catchphrase used by Jack Paar. Paar, host of the Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962, ‘invented the talk-show format as we know it: the ability to sit down and make small talk big,’ said Merv Griffin. ‘Even youngsters sent to bed before Mr. Paar came on parroted his jaunty catchphrase, ‘I kid you not.’ From “He invented late-night talk, then walked away,” an article in the Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., January 28, 2004.
Grammatically both your versions are correct – “kid you” and “kid with you”

Your wording of the question suggests someone is upset about a joke you’ve played on them, so it’s more common to say

“Just kidding” rather than pose it as a question.

 Herman Wouk’s Cain Mutiny 

Lt. Commander QueegIt’s quasi-archaic inversion, combined with the informal “kid” draws attention to the fact that the speaker is being definite about something.

The expression may have been used prior to 1951, but made a notable debut in print when Herman Wouk’s Cain Mutiny was published and became a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Lt. Commander Queeg said:

I am damn well responsible for anything that happens on this ship.
From here on in, I don’t expect to make a single mistake.
I won’t tolerate anybody making and mistakes for me, and I “kid you not”. And, well, I think you get the idea without my drawing you a picture.

thick as thieves

Definition: Very close friends.

For example: Those two are very close. They are as thick as thieves.

Thick As Thieves (1999) – movie

Thick as ThievesMOVIE INFO

Two self-styled criminal masterminds find themselves in a turf battle neither much cares about in this underworld story that balances comedy against drama. Alec Baldwin plays Mackin, a career thief who picks his jobs shrewdly and carefully, and prefers to spend his downtime with his collection of rare jazz LP’s and looking after his dog. Pointy (Michael Jai White) is a young upstart gangster trying to develop a taste for refinement and the good life. When Pointy sets up Mackin, Mackin is forced to retaliate, and before long both men and their associates are in the middle of a war neither is especially interested in winning, which begins to escalate in comic fashion. The skirmish eventually attracts the attention of a female cop (Rebecca De Mornay) who’s become interested in Mackin’s method of operation. Thick As Thieves received its world premiere at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


doonicky, dohicky, do-hicky

an object with an unknown name, or whose name could not be thought of at the moment it was needed. 
see also thingymabob, thingymajig
hey bob, get that dohicky that changes the channel.



    noun /ˈdo͞oˌhikē/ 
    doohickeys, plural

    1. A small object or gadget, esp. one whose name the speaker does not know or cannot recall
      • – a garage filled with electronic parts and other valuable doohickeys

    Web definitions
    • doodad: something unspecified whose name is either forgotten or not known; “she eased the ball-shaped doodad back into its socket”; “there may be some great new gizmo around the corner that you will want to use”

    • Placeholder names are words that can refer to objects or people whose names are either temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, or unknown in the context in which it is being discussed. …

    • A thing (used in a vague way to refer to something whose name one cannot recall)

    • an informal placeholder term used to identify an article, object, tool, part, gadget, device, contrivance, mechanism, technique, or process whose proper name is unknown or forgotten; including dingus, gismo / gizmo, thingy / thingee, thingamabob / thingumabob, thingamajig / thingumajig, whatsis …

three cheers

hip hip horrayThree shouts of hooray (Hoorah, Hurrah, Hurray etc…) given in unison by a group to honour someone or celebrate something.

Hip Hip Hooray

“Hip Hip Hooray” is the traditional response to “Three cheers for…” in many cultures, with the initiator calling out “Hip Hip” three times and each time the others responding “Hooray”. To this day, it is in common usage at children’s birthday parties in many parts of the English-speaking world.

The Toast – For he’s a jolly good fellow

jolly good fellowFor he’s a jolly good fellow,
For he’s a jolly good fellow,
For he’s a jolly good fellow,
Which nob’dy can deny.
Which nob’dy can deny.
Which nob’dy can deny.
For he’s a jolly good fellow,
For he’s a jolly good fellow,
For he’s a jolly good fellow,
Which nob’dy can deny.


Continue reading three cheers

every which way


Function: adverb
Etymology: probably by folk etymology from Middle English everich way every way
Date: 1824
1 : in every direction
2 : in a disorderly manner : irregularly

For example, "How do you get thing done? The papers on your desk are scattered every which way."

Every which way idiom
In all directions, as in Papers were blowing every which way. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]


Every Which Way But Loose (1978)  Directed by James Fargo. With Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis.

Title origin:
The film’s title refers to the eponymous Eddie Rabbit song from the soundtrack, in which the singer complains that his girlfriend turns him "every which way but loose", i. e. he cannot bring himself to leave her although he is more of a freewheeling character. The film title is also out of the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston where the main character Janie’s husband Tea Cake tells her about a fight he had with a man who had a knife, where in the fight Tea Cake "turned him every way but loose", i.e. fought him but did not let the man stab him.