The Devil's Little-Known Cliche Dictionary


Ambrose Anthony Brimrose


There are many dictionaries available featuring definitions and origins of familiar, well-worn cliches such as "Busman's Holiday" or "Ragtag and Bobtail."  Where do you turn, however, when you run across a lesser-known phrase such as "Don't be licking the doily?"

[A] [B][C] [D] [E] [F][G] [H] [I] [J][K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [V] [W] [Y]


All in a crazy uncle's night. Just one of many acts of debauchery.


Beat a crooked path to the lion's den, Don't. If you must deal with an unpleasant task, don't put it off.

Beat a dead horse to the finish line, You don't have to. There's no use competing with individuals you've already crushed professionally.

Beat around the nookie tree, Don't. Don't bother with sexual foreplay.

Beat your own tambourine, dear. Satisfy yourself sexually.

Between an elephant and an eye pencil. Said of an individual who discovers themselves in a humorous but potentially life-threatening situation.

Bladder burster, That's a real. Referring to a joke so funny it makes you wet your pants.

Blow the big load. Spend all your money.

Boy scout troop in an Argentine brothel, like a. In the manner of a person who finds themselves in a situation ripe with wondrously depraved possibilities.

Built like a submarine. Said of a man who is extremely well-endowed sexually.

Built like a submarine sandwich. Said of a man who is extremely well-endowed sexually, but somewhat messy.

Burn the cot, not the cottage. If you're going to use unnecessarily strong measures to solve a problem at hand, try not to do any more damagethan is necessary.


Call a spade a club. Speak in a confusing and indirect manner.

Carry the bowl, I got you to. I tricked you into taking responsibility for my own ineptness.

Carry your nails to Santa Monica, Don't. Don't make such a big deal out of it.

Catch more diseases with honey than with flies, You can. Even easy women are more attracted by sweet talk than six-legged invertebrates.

Caught with your hand in another man's wife, Don't get. If you're going to practice infidelity, be careful not to be discovered during the act.

Chicken's eye short of a clean towel, A. Referring to someone who is certifiably insane.

Claim check for that baggage, Do you have. Said in response to someone who has just said something to indicate they have a lot of deep-seated emotional problems.

Clear as a kumquat. Ill-defined, but in an oddly sexual way.

Clothing-optional co-pilot. A business partner who is also a practicing nudist.

Codfish and Bulldog Story, A. A tale that isn't meant to be believed, yet still contains an important and valuable message.

Cold hands, warm thighs. Said of a person with poor circulation who is nonetheless a good sex partner.

Come to the party naked. When having a good time, leave your inhibitions at home.

Come to the party without round crackers, Don't. While you're at it, don't skimp on the snacks you bring.

Comparing potato salad to pastrami, That's like. You're making a ridiculously unbalanced comparison.

Conspiracy of invisible monkeys. Paranoid delusions.

Count your toes before your fingers, Don't. Take care of the most important tasks first.

Cows come back to Capistrano, When the. It will never happen.

Cream of the Crap, The. The best of the worst.

Cup of Lebanese donkey urine, Not worth a. Worthless.


Dead as disco. Mostly dead but not quite, due to occasional unexpected and unexplainable resurgence brought about by nostalgic movies about theseventies.

Death's stage door, At. Said of a hypochondriac who frequently and annoyingly claims to be dying.

Den of Milkmen. A gathering place for people who are menacingly innocuous.

Dodging a Ballet. Said of a husband who feigns illness or scheduling conflict to avoid participating in activities related to his wife's interests.

Doesn't have all her sandwiches packed in her picnic basket, She. She's not ready for any kind of real emotional commitment.

Dog doesn't chase it's own tail for nothing, A. When you see someone acting in an inexplicable way, perhaps they're simply getting their daily exercise.

Dressed to kill a mockingbird. Wearing bird-hunting attire.

Drop of a skirt, At the. Said of a man who is always ready to engage in any sexual activity with any woman given any opportunity, especially if she's wearing a plaid skirt.

Drunk as a drunk. Chronically intoxicated to the point of membership in The American Society of Professional Alcoholics.

Dutching the Jenny. Pretending to fall in love with a older woman so she'll pay for your meals.


Early bird buys the first round, The. The first woman in a group of drinkers is customarily expected to buy drinks for everyone.

Easy as chicken and shit pie. Said of a problem that appears simply solved at first but likely presents hidden and unpleasant complications.

Every dog has its day-glo poster. Each person has his or her own secret bad tastes.


Face the music and cry. When things get tough, sometimes it's best to face your problems head-on and then fall apart emotionally.

Fall flat on your crotch. To take a tumble -- literally or figuratively -- in such a way that is both awkward and painful.

Fat cat on a hot tin roof, A. A rich person in a frenzy of activity.

Finger your own clarinet, honey. (See "Beat your own tambourine, dear.")

Fisherman who ties his own flies goes to bed healthy, wealthy, and wise,The. There is great spiritual comfort to be found when you incorporate an attention to detail into your daily philosophy.

Fit as a flapjack. In unbelievably poor physical shape.

Fix your own fucking trumpet, Jack. (See "Beat your own tambourine, dear.")

Fly in the fondue, A. An irritating party guest.

From the horse's butt, Straight from. An irrefutable but unpleasant truth.


Gallon of Haitian goat's blood, Not worth a. Without value, except possibly to a Voodoo priest.

Gee, isn't life complex? A sarcastic saying, usually said when someone is complaining about all the difficulties they currently face.

Get it down your neck or get the boot. Drink up before they kick us out!

Grab the wolverine by its tonsils. Tackle the toughest part of the problem first, even if you may end up in the emergency room as a result.


Habitual survivor. Said of a person who just keeps living without contributing anything significant.

Hanging on by your nostrils. Surviving -- even prospering -- despite great physical pain.

Hangar Hussy. A woman of loose morals who can frequently be found at the local airport.

Hanger Hussy. A woman of loose morals who can frequently be found working at the Gap.

Hitching a ride on the Spook Express. Joining a clandestine government agency such as the CIA or NSA.

Hit the baby on the head with a ball-peen hammer, You've just. Said of a person who makes their point in an unnecessarily brutal or tactless way.

Hold you own hamster. Take responsibility for your own psychological problems.

Hooker's Holiday.Taking time off from your job in order to have sex, even though you normally get screwed at work.

Hors-d'oeuvres kind of day, It's just an. Said of a day in which sitting down to eat a "real" meal seems somehow inappropriate.


I never expected a puppet show! I wasn't anticipating all this preparation for my benefit.

It's all in the back of the book. Don't worry, everything will all work out eventually in some completely undetermined way.

It sometimes pays to wear your seat belt in the parking lot. Sometimes being overly safety-conscious to the point of paranoid pays off.


Jar of pickled beets in search of a white rug, You're just a. You are looking for trouble.

Juggler for Christ. One who attempts to win an argument by quoting the New Testament.

Just because you can read, it doesn't mean you can read between the lines. Although you may be well-educated, it doesn't necessarily follow that you have any common sense.

Just because you're on fire it doesn't mean you're allowed to smoke. Even if you're having a crisis, it doesn't necessarily follow that showing a lack of social decorum is acceptable.


Kettle of canker sores, That's a fine. A bad situation, usually one that's extremely unpleasant and messy.

King Turd on Shit Mountain. A big fish in a very small, smelly pond.

Kiss the sheriff's fifteen-year-old daughter, Don't. Don't become sexually involved with anyone who's relatives are capable of putting youin jail.

Know the difference between his ho-ho and his ding-dong, He doesn't. He's utterly clueless about sexual matters.


Leprechaun in a liquor store, Like a. In the manner of a person who is -- if you really think about it long enough - not exactly out of place.

Licking the doily, Don't be. Don't make a fool of yourself, especially in a public place such as a restaurant.

Liter of Filipino peat moss, Not worth a. Worthless, except to a gardener.

Little Miss Johnny-come-lately-to-dinner. Said of a lesbian teenage daughter who lacks dinnertime punctuality.

Liver and onions to me, It's all. It's not something I particularly want to do because it may smell and/or taste awful, but I guess I'm willingto give it a try.

Look at the bottom of the bucket, Don't. Don't probe that particular idea too deeply.


Married to his macaroni. Said of a person who got married primarily because of the quality of his or her spouse's cooking.

Mouse with wheels, Like a. This phrase refers to a problem or situation in which a suggestion has been made before a group; The suggestion is completely illogical and totally flawed but has been presented in such a way that everyone agrees that it is sound, even though everyone individually suspects that something is not quite right.


Nipple Hickey.Referring to bruises caused by excessive suction during sexual activity.

Not over open containers of food, honey. Referring to a person who belches during picnic preparations.

Nouns can't hurt you but verbs can. It's not the objects you throw at a person that causes injury; it's the speed with which you throw them.


On the knob. Drunk. In a state of general debauchery.


People who live with horses shouldn't throw horse shoes. A person should consider his or her own friends before casting aspersions.

Pint of Siamese cat piss, Not worth a. Mostly worthless.

Pony up the monkey bread. Pay the money you owe me from the last time we went to the zoo.

Popping up like pimples. Said of unpleasant guests or children who appear without warning.

Pot of pimple pus, That's a fine. (see "Kettle of canker sores, that's a fine.")

Pretty as a pudding. Ugly and misshapen, but with a tough outer skin.

Pulling a Bambi. Leaving one's lover for a musician.

Pulling a Betty and Veronica. Dating two women at the same time.

Pulling a Brenda. Leaving one's lover after setting fire to his car.

Pulling a bull terrier out of a frog's ass. Attempting to pacify an impossible situation using an elaborate lie.

Pulling a Candy. Leaving one's lover for purposes of federal income tax evasion.

Pulling a magic bag out of your back pocket. Coming up with a beautiful and elegant solution to an apparently impossible problem.

Pulling a Tiffany. Leaving one's lover for no apparent reason at all.


Quart of Caribbean chicken fat, Not worth a. Worthless, except possibly to a very creative chef.

Queer as a county assessor. Referring to a latent homosexual in a position of power, especially the power to set property taxes.


Ready to snap the big red hose. On the verge of having a stroke.


Screwed, blewed, and barbecued. A night of uninhibited sexual activity ending in self-immolation.

Siamese Pig in a Microwave, Like a. In a cramped and potentially hazardous situation.

Skin that cat when we come to it, We'll. We'll solve that problem only when it becomes absolutely necessary, but not before; in the meantime we'll keep putting it off until it becomes unavoidable.

Sock puppet solution. Instead of really solving a problem, let's create some kind of diversion and distract everyone from the fact that there was ever a problem in the first place.

Soft as a baby's brain. Extremely pliable mentally and very open to suggestion.

Squirrel doesn't fall too far from the tree, The. Even the naturally agile sometimes slip up; the trick is to minimize the damage when it happens.


Teetering on the brink of canasta. Said of a young married couple who are dangerously close to becoming their parents.

Three-martini solution. There is no obvious answer to the problem that comes to mind, but let's get drunk and maybe we'll think of something.

Throw caution to the wolves. Said of a person in an extremely dangerous situation and decides not to exercise prudence of any kind.

Throw the baby in the blender, Don't. When you're in a creative frenzy, occasionally stop and make sure no small children are getting hurt.

Throw the baby out with the boa constrictor, Don't. When dealing with a hazardous problem, be careful that your solution isn't too expensive.

Trip over the dead cat on your way out, Don't. Don't waste any time leaving.


Vat of lye with your name on it, I've got a. I'd like to kill you and destroy your lifeless body in such a way that it leaves no physical evidence.


Watch that basket. Refers to someone who has just indicated that they have all their eggs in one basket.

What do you want, a boob in your beer? Why can't you just be satisfied with what you have?

When in doubt, take a nap. If the problems you are facing get too tough, sometimes the best thing you can do is just to ignore them.


You can't make coleslaw without cutting cabbage. It's not possible to solve this particular problem without doing some damage.


  Copyright (C) 1999 Terran Boylan