Rhyming Aphorisms
April 14, 2005 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Rhyming Aphorisms/Superstitions/Pieces of Folk Wisdom: (ie. Wind from the east, fish bite the least). I can't get enough of them. Please tell me more.

My friends and I have been trading these little zingers for a few days now, and we think they're about the coolest things ever. We're running low and have resorted to making them up and passing them off on strangers as legit (Trip on a mop, and you'll have a great crop/Trip on a broom, and nothing will bloom).

What've you got? (bonus points for things that are somewhat factual)
posted by cadastral to Writing & Language (88 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I can't imagine you haven't thought of this one already, but here it is (referring to the color of the sky at sunrise or sunset): Red at night, sailors' delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.
posted by lewistate at 2:16 PM on April 14, 2005


From my boy scout days...

Red sky in morning, sailors take warning,
Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

(on preview - doh!)

For distinguishing between coral and california king snake:
Red touch yellow, watch out fellow,
Red touch black, OK jack.


For poison ivy and poison oak - not sure about poison sumac:
Leaflets three, let it be,
Berries white, a poisonous sight.


And courtesy of Ned Flanders:
If it's clear and yella', you've got juice there, fella!
If it's tangy and brown, you're in cider town.

posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:17 PM on April 14, 2005


For faucets and such:

Lefty loosy, righty tighty.
posted by qwip at 2:25 PM on April 14, 2005


Beer then liquor, never sicker.
Liquor then beer, never fear!
posted by tristeza at 2:27 PM on April 14, 2005


Well, I know the complete version of the one you quoted:

Wind from the west, fish bite the best. Wind from the east, fish bite the least. Wind from the south, blows the bait in the fish's mouth. Wind from the north, do not set forth.

Marry in White - You've chosen right
Marry in Blue - Love will be true
Marry in Yellow - Ashamed of your fellow
Marry in Red - You'll wish yourself dead
Marry in Black - You'll wish yourself back
Marry in Grey - You'll travel far away
Marry in Pink - Of you he'll think
Marry in Green - Ashamed to be seen

A dimple on the chin, the devil within.

Advice when most needed is least heeded.

There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.
posted by Specklet at 2:29 PM on April 14, 2005


Might not be what you are looking for:
A bayberry candle burned to its socket
Brings luck to the house and gold to the pocket.
posted by Cranberry at 2:30 PM on April 14, 2005


A friend in need is a friend indeed!
posted by tristeza at 2:36 PM on April 14, 2005


He who smelt it, dealt it.
posted by Loser at 2:41 PM on April 14, 2005


If it's yellow let if mellow, if it's brown flush it down.
posted by Frank Grimes at 2:41 PM on April 14, 2005


re: welding: "A before O or up you go." (Though in class, we used to always try and mess people up by saying it was "O before A is what they say.")
posted by dobbs at 2:42 PM on April 14, 2005


Find a penny, pick it up,
All day long you'll have good luck.

(It doesn't really rhyme, but it's got a nice sing-song cadence.)

Somewhere I read this one that the author used to get over his difficulty with peeing at public urinals:
You're an ape, urinate.
I've been racking my brain for years trying to figure out where it came from.

From the Simpsons:
Leaves of three, let it be.
Leaves of four, eat some more.

posted by hydrophonic at 2:46 PM on April 14, 2005


i before e except after c or when it sounds like an a as in neighbor and weigh.
posted by puke & cry at 2:48 PM on April 14, 2005


Beware of me with leaves of three (apparently a variation on the poison ivy thing)
Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker (Willie Wonka)
posted by knave at 2:51 PM on April 14, 2005


From The Pain, a comic by Tim Kreider:

Popcorn before pie, then you die.
Pie before popcorn, sit and watch soft porn.

And, um, "The flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true."

Sorry.
posted by LionIndex at 2:53 PM on April 14, 2005


Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
posted by macadamiaranch at 2:53 PM on April 14, 2005


D'oh!

(And it's Ogden Nash, not Willy Wonka)
posted by macadamiaranch at 2:54 PM on April 14, 2005


Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.
posted by fleacircus at 2:54 PM on April 14, 2005


Mackerel sky, not three days dry. (predicts rain when the high clouds look like the scales of a mackerel)
posted by vronsky at 2:55 PM on April 14, 2005


The devil's whipping his wife. When it is raining and the sun is shining.
posted by vronsky at 2:59 PM on April 14, 2005


If the glove don't fit - you must acquit.
posted by Rumple at 3:04 PM on April 14, 2005


An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
posted by knave at 3:06 PM on April 14, 2005


i before e except after c or when it sounds like an a as in neighbor and weigh.

I heard it: I before E except after C, and neighbor and weigh are weird.

How about: If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie, wipe the seatie.
posted by Specklet at 3:10 PM on April 14, 2005


30 days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31
[and then something about February which doesn't rhyme]
posted by matildaben at 3:12 PM on April 14, 2005


re: Springfield's water:
"If it's brown, drink it down. If it's black, send it back."
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:14 PM on April 14, 2005


My Boy Scout troop taught us:
Leaves of three, let it be.
Leaves of five, let it survive.

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
posted by box at 3:15 PM on April 14, 2005


Good health is above wealth.

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. -- Ben Franklin
posted by knave at 3:17 PM on April 14, 2005


Matildaben, or as we say it in my part of the world...

30 days hath September
April, June, and the speeding offender!
posted by ramix at 3:17 PM on April 14, 2005


Red at night, sailors' delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.

The version I know is shepherd's delight/shepherd's warning. Perhaps I've heard that version being a Kentish lass with lots of local farms.
posted by floanna at 3:24 PM on April 14, 2005


if you've got a problem/yo i'll solve it/check out the hook while the dj revolves it.
posted by fishfucker at 3:25 PM on April 14, 2005


ahem
Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937),
"News Item"
US author, humorist, poet, & wit (1893 - 1967)
posted by Cranberry at 3:27 PM on April 14, 2005


birds of a feather flock together
posted by xo at 3:29 PM on April 14, 2005


"Take a bite, it goes to the right"

Medical mnemonic to help you remember that the right bronchi is wider and more vertical than the left one, so if you had a piece of food go down the wrong pipe, it will probably end up in the right bronchi (unless it's large enough to get stuck in the trachea of course).
posted by blindcarboncopy at 3:31 PM on April 14, 2005


Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed (sorry). And there are other versions of this I recently heard Gareth quote on the office, but I can't remember them, something to do with cherries.
posted by vronsky at 3:36 PM on April 14, 2005


He who smelt it, dealt it.

Damn you... haha!
posted by Witty at 3:39 PM on April 14, 2005


if you've got a problem/yo i'll solve it/check out the hook while the dj revolves it.

omg
posted by Witty at 3:41 PM on April 14, 2005


An extremely vulgar variation of vronsky's already-naughty one, which I learned from Mark Doren in the tenth grade:
"Hair on the clam, old enough to slam."
many, many apologies

P.S. fishfucker: that made me burst out laughing

posted by Dr. Wu at 3:43 PM on April 14, 2005


For the bride:
Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
and a silver (or lucky) sixpence in her shoe.
posted by Cranberry at 3:48 PM on April 14, 2005


if you've got a problem/yo i'll solve it/check out the hook while the dj revolves it.

What's this from?
posted by luneray at 3:56 PM on April 14, 2005


Vanilla Ice.... word to your mutha.
posted by Witty at 3:58 PM on April 14, 2005


The angle of the dangle is proportional to
the heat of the meat,
the square of the hair, and
the cube of the pube.
posted by Wet Spot at 4:01 PM on April 14, 2005


You can pick your friends.
You can pick your nose.
But you cannot pick your friend's nose.
posted by luriete at 4:09 PM on April 14, 2005


30 days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31
[and then something about February which doesn't rhyme]


...Save February which alone has 28
And one more
We add each year in four.
posted by scody at 4:10 PM on April 14, 2005


Wine before beer I do endear;
Beer before wine I do decline.

A pint is a pound
The world around.
posted by obloquy at 4:18 PM on April 14, 2005


On corn:

Knee high by the Fourth of July.
posted by Specklet at 4:27 PM on April 14, 2005


Wind from the west, fishing is best.
Wind from the east fishing is least.
so far so good...
Wind from the north, sally forth.
Wind from the south, bring plenty of beer 'cause there's gonna be a drouth.
posted by bricoleur at 4:30 PM on April 14, 2005


wine is fine,
but whiskey's quicker
posted by The Infamous Jay at 4:35 PM on April 14, 2005


and another non-rhyming one ....

talk is cheap,
but it takes money to buy whiskey
posted by The Infamous Jay at 4:42 PM on April 14, 2005


I forget which comedian it was, but it's something like:
"I before E, except after C or sounded like A in neighbor and weigh and on holidays say on any damn day because you'll always be wrong no matter what you say."

April showers bring May flowers.

and then there's the Monday's child is full of grace, Tuesday's child, but that never made any damn sense.

(Although they don't rhyme, you may really enjoy Wise and Otherwise. It's the sayings and aphorisms board game.)
posted by Gucky at 4:46 PM on April 14, 2005


The one I know is the opposite, and let's face it, mine is right: Wine before beer, everything's queer. Beer before wine, everything's fine.

To tell the points of the compass: (clockwise) Never Eat Shredded Wheat.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:59 PM on April 14, 2005


From Shirley Jackson (via her husband?):

Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.
posted by Liffey at 5:36 PM on April 14, 2005


A ring around the moon means rain is coming soon.

What do you all make of the fact that so many people mentioned the poison ivy rhyme? Does MeFi attract former scouts and campers?

Also, is there a rhyme that reminds you to wash the colors in cold water and the whites in warm? The alliteration isn't enough for my guy- and now all his socks are pink.
posted by elisabeth r at 5:43 PM on April 14, 2005


Step on a crack, break your mother's back.

A whistling woman's like a crowing hen: both will come to a bad end.

Every time a bell rings, another angels gets its wings.

[If you see magpies or crows...] One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told.
posted by naomi at 6:00 PM on April 14, 2005


Make new friends but keep the old;
Some are silver, the rest are gold.

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.
posted by naomi at 6:11 PM on April 14, 2005


[If you see magpies or crows...] One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told.

...Eight, a love letter with promises Three--
Nine means your true love's as true as can be.
[/black birds in a tree]
posted by obloquy at 6:13 PM on April 14, 2005


Boys go to Mars to get more candy bars,
Girls go to Jupiter to get more stupider

On a completely unrelated note, I've found that 7-year-old boys are not at all interested in exploring the concept of irony.
posted by stefanie at 6:30 PM on April 14, 2005


wine is fine,
but whiskey's quicker


Should be:

Candy is dandy
but liquor is quicker.
posted by   at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2005


30 days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31


'Cept February,
For 28 is all its time,
'till leapyear gives it 29.
posted by belladonna at 6:48 PM on April 14, 2005


Go to medical school. That's pretty much all you do. Here's my favorite, for remembering the path of nerves in the face:

The lingual nerve takes a swerve
Around the hyoglossus;
"What the fuck?"
Says Wharton's duct,
The bastard's gone and crossed us.

You just never know when that little gem is going to come in handy.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:59 PM on April 14, 2005


Early to bed and early to rise
While your girlfriend goes out with other guys.
posted by joaquim at 7:01 PM on April 14, 2005


A stitch in time saves nine.
posted by puddinghead at 7:05 PM on April 14, 2005


Early to rise and early to bed
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and dead
posted by   at 7:05 PM on April 14, 2005


Not a full phrase, but corn's supposed to be "knee high by the Fourth of July"
posted by dagnyscott at 8:38 PM on April 14, 2005


White, yellow on blue--the informative zoo.
White, yellow on green--the enquiry scene.
White, yellow on taupe--we're under the ‘scope.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:07 PM on April 14, 2005


w-g p: That was beautiful.
posted by OneOliveShort at 9:37 PM on April 14, 2005


These subtle variations are way more interesting than they should be. The versions I know are:

Beer before liquor, never been sicker /
Liquor before beer, you're in the clear

Early to rise, early to bed /
Makes a man healthy but socially dead
posted by onshi at 10:32 PM on April 14, 2005


I can't believe no one has posted this guy-specific rhyme:

No matter how much you shake and how much you dance, the last drop always falls in your pants.

And as a bonus, the Spanish version:
Lo dijo Socrates, lo dijo Platón - la última gota cae en el pantalón.
(in which both Socrates and Plato weigh in on the matter)
posted by O9scar at 11:00 PM on April 14, 2005


‘It’s not the cough that carries you off:
it’s the coffin they carry you off in.’
posted by misteraitch at 11:32 PM on April 14, 2005


loser,

He who smelt it, dealt it.

Yes, but he who said the rhyme surely did the crime.
posted by randomstriker at 11:44 PM on April 14, 2005


I can't imagine you haven't thought of this one already, but here it is (referring to the color of the sky at sunrise or sunset): Red at night, sailors' delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.


Hmmm, am I the only one that detects a distinctively "blue" undertone to all these red indicators?


hint: think red light district for the first part.
posted by sic at 1:25 AM on April 15, 2005


Another variation on the 'drinking order' theme:

Beer after wine, feeling fine.
Wine after beer, feeling queer.


I can only remember this because in my head I hear it in a thick Yorkshire accent.
posted by chrismear at 1:43 AM on April 15, 2005


Hooray, hooray, the first of May,
outside diddling starts today.
posted by bricoleur at 5:08 AM on April 15, 2005


A pint is a pound
The world around.


Typical Americanocentric arrogance! Any fule kno a British pint is 20 oz!

But I'd better answer the question or I'll get slapped: how about

Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women.

I believe that was said by the Robert Shaw character in "Jaws" and it always struck me as being a nice combination of contrived crudity and vague surrealism.
posted by Decani at 6:36 AM on April 15, 2005


I believe the complete Dorothy Parker quote is:

Men don't make passes
At girls who wear glasses
But do girls who wear glassess
Make passes at men?
posted by juggler at 6:56 AM on April 15, 2005


uhhh, Milk, Milk, Lemonade..&c.

And of course:

Well, Camus can do, but
Sartre is smartre!"
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:21 AM on April 15, 2005


D_W: I heard it as:

Nietszche is peachy
but Sartre is smartre
posted by matildaben at 8:07 AM on April 15, 2005


I like your version a bunch better.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:08 AM on April 15, 2005


Here I sit, broken hearted
Had to shit, but only farted.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:13 AM on April 15, 2005


Not sure how wise, but a t-shirt once told me, "Eatin' Ain't Cheatin'!"
posted by yerfatma at 8:15 AM on April 15, 2005


The version of the day/month rhyme I've always heard is

Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February alone
And it has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year
posted by anapestic at 8:24 AM on April 15, 2005


Nietzsche
posted by bricoleur at 8:25 AM on April 15, 2005


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

posted by Octaviuz at 8:30 AM on April 15, 2005


Another liquor variation:

Hard before beer, you're in the clear;
Beer before hard, you're in the yard.

I might have missed it, but for anything that screws:

Righty tighty, lefty loosey
posted by o2b at 8:30 AM on April 15, 2005


If this van's rockin', don't bother knockin'!
posted by tristeza at 8:47 AM on April 15, 2005


Here I sit with my cheeks a flexin',
Giving birth to another Texan.
posted by Wet Spot at 8:51 AM on April 15, 2005


tristeza:
Beer then liquor, never sicker.
Liquor then beer, never fear!

But I've always heard:
Beer on whiskey, might risky,
Whiskey on beer, have no fear.


Loser:
He who smelt it, dealt it.
randomstriker:
Yes, but he who said the rhyme surely did the crime.
But also remember:
He who denied it, supplied it.

Gucky:
I forget which comedian it was, but it's something like:
"I before E, except after C or sounded like A in neighbor and weigh and on holidays say on any damn day because you'll always be wrong no matter what you say."

It was Brian Regan - hilarious bit! Wish I could find an audio clip...

From WWII:
Loose lips sink ships.

A nice golf aphorism:
Drive for show, putt for dough.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:56 AM on April 15, 2005


Here's the full poem/whatever:

Monday's child is full of grace,
Tuesday's child is fair of face.
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day,
is healthy, wealthy, happy and gay.
(alt: is bonny and blithe, good and gay.)

I was born on a Thursday.
*sigh*
posted by deborah at 10:25 AM on April 15, 2005


Cunnilingus mnemonic from college:
Smells like trout, get the fuck out

Also a variation of Luriete's:
You can pick your friends and
You can pick your nose
But you can't wipe your friends on your pant leg

posted by rowell at 5:44 PM on April 15, 2005


Here I sit, broken hearted
Had to shit, but only farted.


I heard this as graffiti in the old public toilets that you had to pay to use, and I think this variation paints a more tragic story:

Here I sit, broken hearted
Paid a penny and only farted.

posted by chrismear at 2:55 PM on April 16, 2005


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