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Satisfaction brought it back
March 14, 2008 12:14 PM   Subscribe

What are retorts for some common sayings? For example, when people say: "The early bird gets the worm", you could retort "The second mouse gets the cheese". Which other ones are out there?
posted by markovich to Writing & Language (80 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
 
"There's always one old shoe to fit another old shoe"

Response: "Some pots are made without lids."
posted by LN at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2008


"Curiosity killed the cat."

"Satisfaction brought him back."
posted by carolr at 12:22 PM on March 14, 2008


When you tell kids off for eating with their fingers and they say, "Fingers were made before forks," I like to retort, "Yeah, but yours weren't."
posted by stenoboy at 12:23 PM on March 14, 2008


“The squeaky wheel gets the oil” / “It’s also the first one to get replaced.”


A while back I posted a comment “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”, to which someone responded “Tell that to someone who had polio as a child.”

I haven’t used that phrase since. They totally ruined it for me.
posted by bondcliff at 12:23 PM on March 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Real life is not monkey island, guys.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:24 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I had a college professor who suggested responding to "age before beauty" with "pearls before swine."
posted by theseampsgoto11 at 12:24 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Better late than never"

Retort: "Better never late"
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 12:24 PM on March 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


See you later alligator / After a while crocodile

and just in time for St. Paddy's Day...
Top o' the morning to you / And the rest of the day to yourself
posted by kitkatcathy at 12:25 PM on March 14, 2008


"Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy, but socially dead."
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:26 PM on March 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


My dad used to tell us to "Eat that, it will put hair on your chest." To which I finally learned the retort: "Hair doesn't grown on steel, dad."

Also:

The early bird gets the worm, but the early worm gets eaten.

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:27 PM on March 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


... then again, the early worm gets eaten by the bird.
posted by gmarceau at 12:28 PM on March 14, 2008


A lot of Demotivators address common cliches, by the way.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:29 PM on March 14, 2008


"Too many cooks spoil the broth" vs "Many hands make light work"
posted by Cuppatea at 12:29 PM on March 14, 2008


"There's no 'I' in 'team'!"

"There's no 'you' either."
posted by Drastic at 12:33 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


To crib Bill Cosby:

"It builds character." "Yes, but what if you're an asshole?"
posted by LN at 12:35 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Nuh uh."

"YUH HUH."
posted by baphomet at 12:36 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


My dad sometimes says "on the one hand, [blah blah blah]...and on the other hand, you have five fingers."

If someone says to a 3rd person in the conversation "I think you have a point," he'll add this: "...But if you comb your hair right you can cover it up."

We sometimes ask him "Would you mind saying grace?" so he can respond "Grace."
posted by Miko at 12:39 PM on March 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


"You're stupid."

"Um, your stupid."
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:40 PM on March 14, 2008


"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" / "Out of sight, out of mind."
posted by INTPLibrarian at 12:42 PM on March 14, 2008


[Insert any aphorism here.]
"He who dealt it smelt it."
posted by ignignokt at 12:45 PM on March 14, 2008


Nice one, Miko! My Dad's favourite is, "my opinion, and a dollar twenty-five, will get you a cup of coffee."
posted by LN at 12:48 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tend to respond to many insults/statements with "your mom"

yes, i do in fact know that I'm very clever to have come up with that one all by myself.
posted by Planet F at 12:49 PM on March 14, 2008


"He who smelled it dealt it"

"He who said the rhyme did the crime"
posted by randomstriker at 12:51 PM on March 14, 2008


"You're stupid."

"Um, your stupid."


"I know you are but what am I?"
posted by randomstriker at 12:52 PM on March 14, 2008


Oh, another!

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
"An onion a day keeps everybody away."
posted by Miko at 12:55 PM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Nobody likes a smart ass, but everybody loves a clown.
posted by kimota at 12:57 PM on March 14, 2008


"Look before you leap" vs. "Fortune favours the bold" (or "He who hesitates is lost").


What's this for, anyway?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2008


Act in haste, repent at leisure / A stitch in time saves nine.
posted by johngoren at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2008


in addition to the "there is no I in team"... "But there is a ME"
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 1:07 PM on March 14, 2008


"Keep an open mind"

"But not so open your brain falls out"
posted by kindall at 1:08 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Sweets for the sweet." "Here, have some nuts."
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:10 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


He who hesitates is lost/ look before you leap.
posted by TedW at 1:10 PM on March 14, 2008


The squeaky wheel gets the grease
but,
The nail that sticks out is the one that gets hammered.

And to steal from Catch 22:
What if everyone went around [doing X]?
Then I'd be a fool not to do X, wouldn't I?
posted by ctmf at 1:11 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Some bumper stickers I've seen:

"My football player can beat up your honor student" ("My child is an honor student at ----")

"Visualize whirled peas" ("Visualize world peace")

"Nice people swallow" ("Mean People Suck")

Bumper sticker "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" cut just right to read "Practice random and sensless acts"
posted by Melismata at 1:15 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Always be yourself / Unless you suck"

The jet engine retort was a staple of my adolescent years. My own version was "Birds who fly too high get sucked into jet engines".
posted by greenland at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life."

"Give a man a match and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."
posted by sour cream at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


At school when someone was caught with their fly down ...
     XYZ      (eXamine Your Zip)
to which, if you thought they were bluffing, you would reply ...
     ABC      (Already Been Checked)
which could be followed by ...
     DEF      (Don't Ever Forget)
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:25 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whenever someone says "I'll be right bach"
I always reply "And I'll be left beethoven!"
posted by nomisxid at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2008


“The squeaky wheel gets the oil” / “It’s also the first one to get replaced.”

Or "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down".
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:37 PM on March 14, 2008


"See ya later"

"Not if I see you first"
posted by Danf at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2008


"Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today."

"If you save everything til the last minute, it only takes a minute."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


"There is no I in team"

"but there is one in win"
posted by Max Power at 1:42 PM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I always follow "It's a small world" with "...but I wouldn't want to paint it."
posted by rocket88 at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I forget what this is from, I think a tv show:


You can catch more flies with honey that you can with vinegar...

...but only a hillbilly sits around thinking up ways to catch flies.
posted by Mr. Ugh at 2:03 PM on March 14, 2008


Remark: "I'm pissed off!"
Reply: "Better to be pissed off than pissed on."

Remark: "I'm hanging in there."
Reply: "Better than hanging out there."

Not really a reply to a remark, but when someone trips over their feet, I've always enjoyed, "Nice trip, see you next fall."
posted by NoraCharles at 2:03 PM on March 14, 2008


"Well, live and learn."

"Then die and forget it all."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2008


"Absence makes the heart grow fonder"

"Absence makes the heart go yonder!"

Dedicated to BuddhaInABucket.
posted by ersatz at 2:21 PM on March 14, 2008


The catch-all response, courtesy of Voltaire:

"A witty saying proves nothing."
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy and wealthy and dead."
        – James Thurber
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:29 PM on March 14, 2008


"There's no I in team!"
"No, but there's an m and an e."

"Two wrongs don't make a right"
"But three rights make a left"
or
"But three lefts do."
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:42 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


A:"Man, I'm overworked"
B:"C'mon, There's a light at the end of the tunnel"
A:"Yeah, but it's probably just some assh*le with a flashlight, bringing me more work"
posted by bartleby at 2:57 PM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


"... but all my friends are doing it!"
"If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it?"
"If they all came back and said it was the greatest thing ever, yes!"
posted by bonaldi at 3:00 PM on March 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


If someone holds the door and says "Age before beauty", sweep through, saying "Pearls before swine"
posted by essexjan at 3:19 PM on March 14, 2008


"Two wrongs don't make a right!"
"But two Wrights make a plane!"
posted by sephira at 3:21 PM on March 14, 2008


On someone commenting about the relative ease of doing something, my friend likes to reply "Yeah? And everything's portable with a big enough truck"
posted by quin at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2008


"Some people say cucumbers taste better pickled". Can be used to respond to almost anything.
posted by vito90 at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2008


Something this thread is reminding me of that's almost the same thing is an old timin' scripture quotes duel, the sort that two preachers might have in a public debate (or in a setting like the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?).

In some venue where Biblical quotations would be regarded as supreme authority two extremely Bible-literate intellectuals are taking opposite sides in a discussion on a topic that isn't clearly scripturally supported either way - so they can each keep pounding out quotes that can be framed as supporting their own opinion. Wish I could come up with an example of this but my Google-fu fails me and my own knowledge of the Bible is insufficient (though pretty good for an atheist in my estimation.)
posted by XMLicious at 3:59 PM on March 14, 2008


"Great minds think alike."

"Fools never differ."

's all I got.
posted by ZakDaddy at 4:09 PM on March 14, 2008


"You can't teach an old dog new tricks" and
"It's never too late to learn".
posted by schrodycat at 4:21 PM on March 14, 2008


"Great minds think alike" also gets "So do mediocre ones."
posted by kindall at 4:24 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


My response to "Age before beauty" has always been to stop in my tracks and say "oh, okay, go ahead then."
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:45 PM on March 14, 2008


I respond to "well, you can't have everything" with "yeah, where would you put it?" to which the astute reply "everywhere!"

and I don't know if this counts, but my favorite reply to a knock-knock joke is:
"Oh, that WAS funny. Want to hear my favorite knock-knock joke? Say Knock-knock"
OK, "Knock-knock"
"Who's there?" Grinning madly)
posted by penciltopper at 4:56 PM on March 14, 2008


"You catch more flies with honey than vinegar"

This is actually not true. Especially with fruit flies, leaving a bowl of vinegar on the counter is a good trap. So you could challenge someone to try it out. If you leave a bowl of vinegar and a bowl with honey on the counter overnight, you'd find dead flies in the vinegar and not the honey.
posted by winston at 6:02 PM on March 14, 2008


"There's no I in team!"

"But there are two in salary differential!"
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"If everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you?"

"Depends. Is the bridge on fire? Because if the bridge is on fire, I'm jumping. And I'd highly encourage you to join us."
posted by anitanita at 6:28 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


allkindsoftime, in response to 'That'll put hair on your checst', my room-mate says 'No grass on granite', which he says is a common phrase in Danish.
posted by StephenF at 7:00 PM on March 14, 2008


Oh, and 'Life is what happens when you're making other plans' <> 'Fail to prepare, prepare to fail'.
posted by StephenF at 7:04 PM on March 14, 2008


My personal fave for "Curiosity killed the cat" is "Yeah, but monkeys are smarter."

I'm pretty sure I invented it. :)
posted by mediareport at 7:06 PM on March 14, 2008


If someone's cleaning something out, you can use a turn on this "Office" dialogue...

"They say a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind. Well I say an empty desk means an..."
"Empty mind."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:38 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can catch more flies with honey that you can with vinegar

But you catch the most flies with bullshit.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:23 AM on March 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


"That's what she said!" (double entendre, works best for things that sound dirty)

Person 1:"Wow, that's ___(ugly, stupid, smelly, etc.)"
Person 2 "what do you think it's saying about you?"

Not quite what you're asking for, but some good, dumb (but true) sayings:
"Wherever you go, there ya are"
"I've met a lot of people in this world, and you're one of 'em"

I have a bunch more but can't think of them off the top of my head, I'll have a phone conversation with my old man and get back to you on this one.
posted by whiskey point at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2008


I get this a lot, after doing something creative or unusual.

"You have way too much time on their hands."
Response: "Oh yeah, well you're lazy."
posted by Area Control at 11:21 AM on March 15, 2008


"There's no I in team"

my response (staircase wit of course)

"But there's a U in fuck off"
posted by lalochezia at 11:31 AM on March 15, 2008


"Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like a banana." -Groucho
posted by starman at 5:01 PM on March 15, 2008


It's "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:57 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah I've seen it both ways.
posted by starman at 8:24 PM on March 15, 2008


(comment on someone) ".... oh xxx is just a has-been"

My Dad's response: "better a has-been than a never-was".
posted by flutable at 5:40 AM on March 16, 2008


To err is human

Getting revenge is divine

-- Alan Shore
posted by maggieb at 11:58 AM on March 16, 2008


From an episode of "All in the Family" - Archie (referring to his baldness): "Grass doesn't grow on a busy street." Edith: "It doesn't grow on concrete either."
posted by yqxnflld at 7:17 PM on March 16, 2008


My wife's 90 year old father would always respond to "How are you doing?" by saying "Doing all of them that I can. The easy ones twice."

Always cracked me right up.
posted by rglasmann at 8:16 PM on March 29, 2008


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