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Descriptive Phrases
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Descriptive Phrases

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By Bill Frazer

Our southern expressions are often looked down on by the so-called intellectuals as a lack of understanding of the progressive world. They are partially correct as us “hicks” lack the understanding of the liberal viewpoints of some of our leaders.

Look at some the terms used today in the higher echelons of our society. We hear nightly on the news the phrase “boots on the ground”. We know that it means that US Armed Ground Forces being moved to foreign soils. However that is not exactly the words that the framers of English grammar would consider acceptable communication.

Another interesting term in use in daily breaking news is “drain the swamp”. We know what that means but my LaFayette High School English teacher would classify this as questionable use of a metaphor. My class mate TaTa Robinson, sister to the noted journalist Billy Bob Robinson, was Mrs. Willingham’s star student. However, her younger brother Billy Bob who later had the same teacher somehow trashed all of her good English grammar instruction. I hated TaTa as she made the rest of us look like Gomer Pyle. Speaking of “drain the swamp”, it is akin to draining the Okefenokee Swamp. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!

I mulled over the proper use of good English and came to the realization that the past generation had a vocabulary that most of today’s population would not understand. Consider such phrases: “Step on it!”, “He is a slow leak!”, “The pot calling the kettle black!”, “Slow as molasses!”, “Laid by!”, “Better than snuff but not nearly as dusty!”, “Pig in a poke!”, “Whistling Dixie!”, It ain’t worth doodley squat!”, “Once in a blue moon!” “Going south!”, “Tuckered out!”, “Living it up!”, “Over the hill!”, “Sorry as gully dirt!”, “Slap dab funny!”, “Up a tree!”, “ Beat around the bush!”, “Belly up!”, “He got shucked!”, “Phoney baloney!”, “You got to pay the piper!”, “Lickety split!” and “Don’t throw the baby out with the wash water!”.

Other outdated phrases are readily understood as they are self -explanatory. Commonly understood phrases include: “Laid to rest!”, Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”, “Hot as Hades!”, You don’t know unless you have walked in my shoes!”, “Used up”, “Stubborn as mule!”, “It is a no brainer!”, “Thinking out of the box!”, “A fool and his money are soon parted!”, “Making hay while the sun shines!”, “Making do with what you got!”, “Played the fool!”, “Acting up!”, “He wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him in the face!”, Up the creek without a paddle!”, “You can lead the horse to water but you can’t make him drink!” and the list goes on and on.

These priceless phrases are older than my lifetime. Will Rogers nailed it down in the early 1900’s with these sayings:

1.Never squat with your spurs on
2.Never slap a man who is chewing tobacco
3.There are two theories relative to arguing with a woman and neither work
4.Never kick a cow chip on a hot day (Today’s crowd does not understand this one)
5.Always drink upstream from the herd
6.If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging
7.The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it in your pocket
8.There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them who have to urinate on the electric fence to find out for themselves
9.Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment
10.If you are riding ahead of the herd, look back every now and then to see if it is still there
11.Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back
12.After eating the bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came by and shot him. The morale of the story, when you are full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
13.Eventually you will stop lying about your age and start bragging about it
14.The older we get the fewer things seem to be worth waiting in line for
15.Some people want to turn back the odometer, but I want people to know that I have traveled a long way on roads that were not paved

I will close with Will’s last and perhaps the most revealing truism, “NEVER MISS A GOOD CHANCE TO SHUT UP!”.