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Calling all idiom savants.
March 5, 2013 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for variants of idioms, so that I can put 'em in a bracket to determine the overall winner and champion of idioms.

This is based off the fact that I work with someone who says "the cat's whiskers" where I would say "the cat's pajamas" and others might say "the cat's meow".
Can you help me think of other idiom variants? Not of the cat's various, but of any other idiom which has fairly divergent wording.
For example, taking someone down a notch vs. a peg is not sufficiently distinct, but falling into a tub of butter vs. honey is.
posted by Cold Lurkey to Writing & Language (38 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
"That takes the cake" vs "That takes the biscuit".
posted by pompomtom at 6:36 PM on March 5, 2013


The greatest thing since frozen pizza (instead of sliced bread).
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:42 PM on March 5, 2013


Of course, there's always the old 'One X short of a Y'

One stubby short of a slab.
One sheep short of a flock. etc..

and the related:

Not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
posted by pompomtom at 6:56 PM on March 5, 2013


"the cat's whiskers" where I would say "the cat's pajamas" and others might say "the cat's meow".

...when obviously you all mean 'the dog's bollocks'.
posted by pompomtom at 7:02 PM on March 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Would "six of one" be considered a good variant of "same difference"?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:09 PM on March 5, 2013


Growing up I heard "Not the sharpest crayon in the box," "Not the brightest bulb in the box," and "Not sharpest tack in the box," with "Not the sharpest bulb" used in jest to refer to someone who is really extra stupid.
posted by coppermoss at 7:09 PM on March 5, 2013


That really chaps my hide.
That really frosts my balls.

These were said equally often in my house growing up. One was my mom's preferred idiom, the other was my dad's. I will leave it to the reader to suss out which was which.
posted by phunniemee at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2013


Well, you are just the cat's potatoes.
posted by serena15221 at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Not the sharpest bulb"

Which reminds me...

It's not rocket science.
It's not brain surgery.
It's not rocket surgery.
posted by phunniemee at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2013


don't get your knickers in a twist / undies in a bunch / panties in a wad / bloomers in a knot / ??? / profit!
posted by drlith at 7:19 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That takes the cake" vs "That takes the biscuit".

In my preliminary research on this question, I discovered that those actually can mean opposite things.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:27 PM on March 5, 2013


A few bricks shy of a hod.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2013


Does a bear shit in the woods? / Is the Pope a Catholic?
posted by Prof Iterole at 7:35 PM on March 5, 2013


Oh, also: colder than a witch's tit/ well-digger's ass.
posted by coppermoss at 7:35 PM on March 5, 2013


Does a bear shit in the woods? / Is the Pope a Catholic?

I think it's more often "does the Pope wear a funny hat" prompting such gems as, "does the pope shit in his hat?" and "does the pope shit in the woods?"
posted by phunniemee at 7:39 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


>Does a bear shit in the woods? / Is the Pope a Catholic?

Does the Pope wear a funny hat?
Is Humpty Dumpty fat?
IS WRESTLING FIXED?
posted by pompomtom at 7:40 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Polishing a turd" vs. "Putting lipstick on a pig"

"Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick" vs. "Better than a hole in the head" vs. "Better than kick in the pants"
posted by a dangerous ruin at 7:40 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


>In my preliminary research on this question, I discovered that those actually can mean opposite things.

I dunno. I reckon they're both "this is the ne plus ultra of the set", it's just the the Poms would rarely use that to enthuse about things, what with them being Poms. 'X takes the biscuit' doesn't have to be a negative thing, it's just very very likely to.
posted by pompomtom at 7:44 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd pay good money to see a "dumber than a box of hammers" vs. "dumber than a box of hair" showdown.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:47 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sex on legs / sex on a stick
posted by Prof Iterole at 7:50 PM on March 5, 2013


Dumber than a bump on a log/box of rocks
posted by greta simone at 8:14 PM on March 5, 2013


One card shy of a full deck/not playing with a full deck
posted by greta simone at 8:16 PM on March 5, 2013


I'd pay good money to see a "dumber than a box of hammers" vs. "dumber than a box of hair" showdown.

Dumber than a box of rocks
About as sharp as a sack of wet mice


ALSO: The whole...

nine yards
kits and caboodle
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:38 PM on March 5, 2013


When pigs fly vs when hell freezes over.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:41 PM on March 5, 2013


ugly as sin / ugly as all get-out

...and this may not be the form you're thinking of, but "another [thing | think] coming"

(IT'S OBVIOUSLY "THING," WHY IS THIS EVEN DEBATED)
posted by psoas at 8:58 PM on March 5, 2013


You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
(I have heard people substitute "sugar" for honey)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:15 PM on March 5, 2013


same shit, different day / same shit, different pile
posted by Crane Shot at 10:18 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also would like to see a deathmatch between a box of hair and a box of rocks... but generally, I'm not looking for the more subtle permutations or conflagrations of idioms. e.g. Does the pope shit in the woods? But rather more distantly related words cobbled into the same basic concept.

Sorry to threadsit, but if this turd is ever going to get gilded...
posted by Cold Lurkey at 11:21 PM on March 5, 2013


Do misunderstandings/mistakes count? When my daughter was about 5 years old she once declared that it was "raining ducks and chickens" rather than "cats and dogs".
posted by she's not there at 3:18 AM on March 6, 2013


Easy as pie/piece of cake?
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:22 AM on March 6, 2013


...when obviously you all mean 'the dog's bollocks'.

Surely that should be "the mutt's nuts".
posted by dirm at 10:35 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If wishes were fishes.../if wishes were wings.../if if was a skiff
posted by sleepingcbw at 1:59 PM on March 6, 2013


fish or cut bait vs. shit or get off the pot.
posted by Breav at 2:40 PM on March 6, 2013


Hit the hay vs. hit the sack
posted by afton at 8:34 PM on March 6, 2013


To describe someone a bit crazy / unusual:

As mad as a box of frogs Vs As mad as a bag of snakes.
posted by billiebee at 3:12 AM on March 7, 2013


Get hold of "In a Pig's Eye: The Dictionary of Country Jawing," which is packed with idioms and their variants.

For example:

Ain't got the brains God gave a squirrel
Ain't got the brains God gave geese


All hat and no cattle
All vine and no taters


My momma didn't raise no fools
My momma didn't raise no stupid child


Not on your Nellie
Not on your tintype

posted by MonkeyToes at 2:10 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sharp as a bowling ball.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:00 PM on March 8, 2013


It's a pity, however it doesn't seem like there's enough true varient idioms abroad to make even a real "idiom madness" style bracket.
In the course of thinking about this question, however, "gilding the turd" vs. "putting lipstick on a pig" seemed to be a kind of variance that would be pittable against the other.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:32 PM on March 23, 2013


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