Where have the Metaphors gone?

Metaphors are the Best learning tools!

In today’s society we seem to have lost the meaning of so many different sayings that us ‘olders’ were brought up on.  So when they are spewed out of our mouths, the younger generation looks at us with total confusion as though we have sprouted horn and our faces have turned purple.

When ever my daughter hears phrases such as “Why buy the Cow when the milk is free” it has to be explained in detail for her to understand.  It makes me wonder what have all of these children been learning?  Aren’t teachers using Metaphor’s these days?  If this is the case does that mean our age old Parables have gone by the wayside as well?

To me I find this sad.  I loved hearing metaphors and trying to figure out the meaning as a small child.  I do remember asking when I was younger what some meant.  But I was young, as in pre-teen. To me they taught me things in a funny way, so it stuck.



Some of my Favorites

“Shit-fire, save matches”… No need to cock your head to the side and look at me like I’ve lost my mind, I’ll explain. If you can shit fire, why would you need matches? My Mom had a way with words, and this was one of her favorites to use.

“Why buy the Cow when the Milk is free?” In reference to a man and woman. Why would he marry the woman when she gives herself sexually without the benefit of vows? For a woman (years ago) the goal was marriage, in order for the man to marry her, she needed to refrain from sex. If she gave up the sex, why would he marry her?

“Why buy the Pig for a teeny-weenie sausage” - This is a newer one in reference to a woman marrying a man. It has been said that men are pigs, hence the reference. The sausage is in reference to his private parts.

“That Sucks Buttermilk” - If you’ve ever tasted buttermilk, you’ll know it’s sour.

“Stinks on ice” - Ice freezes things, if it still smells after it’s frozen it has to be bad!

“You made your Bed, now lie in it” - This is your life, if you screwed it up, that’s tough, you’ll either ‘smooth out the sheets’ or live with the lumps.

“Horse-feathers” - Yeah, this is better than swearing.

“Eat Crow” - This one is a little more difficult to explain, but I’ll try. When you are determined that you are right, and it is finally proved that you were wrong, you must eat crow. Why Crow? Because Crow’s are large, and they have LOTS of feathers, feathers are hard to swallow, they might get stuck in your throat.

“Foot and mouth disease” - This is where you are speaking to someone and you inadvertently say something that you REALLY wish you would not have. If you stick your foot in your mouth, well, then you can’t talk.

Diarrhea of the mouth” - This means that your speaking too much, running on and on. Mostly nonsense.

“That left a bitter taste in my mouth” - This is in reference to either saying something bad, or hearing something bad about another person. It could also be used in reference to doing something wrong. Bitter taste is not pleasant.

“Shit and 2 is 8 - a fart’s a fraction” - Honestly, I have no idea what this means, but my Mom used this and I always thought it was funny. I’ve used it, it comes in a more exasperated tone when doing so.

“You’d better close the barn door before the horse gets out” - This is in reference to a boy, and his zipper being undone.

“That’s like closing the barn door after the Horses get out” - This is in reference to doing something too late.

“Dumb as a box of Rocks” - Does this really need an explanation? My pet rock might have something to say about that! No just kidding, I never bought one.

“Busier than a 1 legged man in a butt kicking contest” - Think about it…. You just gotta picture it.

“Screw the Pooch” - This means you’ve really messed up…

“Six of one, half dozen of another” - This means exactly the same.

“Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul” - I explained to my kids ‘You’re still in the hole no matter what’…

“Don’t burn your Bridges” - In reference to relationships with others, if you totally end a relationship (burned the bridge) and in the future you may need something they have to offer, where are you going to turn to?

"Shit - Fart - Damn, Old Miss Mitchell" - Honestly I have no idea what this means, it was used by my Mother-in-Law, who didn't like to swear, only after consuming quantities of alcohol.


Let's bring them back!

There are many, many more and I could go on for days, but these were just a few favorites of mine that I have shared with others.  Feel free to share yours in the comment section below.

Don't be afraid to use them!  Sure the kids will look at you like you've come from another planet, but what the heck, it could be fun!

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Comments 16 comments

sharon 5 years ago

I hadn't heard some of those metaphors in LONG time! I laughed when I read this! I DO have to admit, that a couple were new to me! I'm gonna try to work them in a sentence!! LOL Thanks for the laugh!


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan Author

LOL - I can imagine you working some of these into a sentence!! Can't wait to hear what you come up with!!


Julie2 profile image

Julie2 5 years ago from New York City

Oh my God, my grandmother used a few of these on her kids too. How I miss hearing her say these things! LOL...


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan Author

LOL, That's so cool! Do you remember what her favorites were? Funny the things you forget, then realize how much you miss them!

Thanks for stopping by!


Julie2 profile image

Julie2 5 years ago from New York City

Screw The pooch

Dumb as a box of rocks

oh and definitely,

Diarrhea in the mouth

and others that she'd say in spanish. They sound much more harsh in another language! LOL


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Coming from the old, old school, I love these old Metaphors. I also understand what you are saying about the youth not being able to get them. What's even more sad about today is the new usage of acronyms, I haven't got a clue about what even 1% of them mean and am totally lost with them.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

This was a fun read, susie, thank you. Some of my favorites are over the hill (depending on the height of the hill); talking out of the other side of your mouth (not easy); and one I use often - older than dirt.

If you find time, visit my hub on "Popular Proverbs Interpreted" - there are many similar sayings there with my iconoclastic interpretations. :)


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan Author

@ Dave - I know what you mean! Some of the stuff the kids use today! Maybe in 100 years they will be considered old.. LOL My kids laugh at me when I ask "What does that mean?"

@ drbj - lol, I think that I use those quit often myself, forgot they were included in the list! LOL ooo... "speaking with a forked tongue"... hey there's another one!! LOL

Iconoclastic interpretation.... I like it! It's a big word so I'll probably have to look it up, but it's got a great ring to it! LOL

Thank you both for stopping by!


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

I am a "collector" of sayings, so was delighted to read these. One of my Dad's favorites when I was a kid was that "Children should be seen and not heard." I told that to my kids--they thought I was making it up!


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan Author

That was one my Dad attempted to use on me and my brother.. I say attempted because his father said that about his kids, it didn't quite work with a vocal thing like I was! LOL

Thanks for stopping by!


Unmasked profile image

Unmasked 5 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

Haha, I thought this Hub was about something totally different. I'm such a word geek I immediately thought you were refering to literary metaphors and was really excited. This was fun to read---I agree that children nowadays aren't taught well enough. Hence, I am already planning my homeschooling curriculum for my not-quite-two year old. We must be from different part of the country, though, because I've heard most of these but some of the meanings vary.


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan Author

How neat! What were some of the meanings you have to the phrases? I Have quite a fun time getting that 'look' from my kids, you know the one, where they kind of cock their head to the side with a question in their eyes, wondering if they REALLY just heard it correct? Now they are getting older and have kids of their own they are using their own, mostly ones that come from me. I still try to come up with new ones, just to get a reaction!

Thanks for stopping by!


By Lori profile image

By Lori 3 years ago from USA

life in general used to be more creative and whimsical, these days people seem on edge and a little too serious - or maybe I'm getting old and cranky ? But wasn't it a little different a few decades ago or so ? or longer {ha}


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 3 years ago from Michigan Author

I think as a whole we have become quite selfish - mainly selfish with our time - "Me Time" is what I hear most often... Ahhhh to ponder "me Time'.. never having had much I wonder if I'd know what to do with myself!!

I love hanging out with old people!! They know so much stuff and love to share!


Coretha@yahoo.com 5 weeks ago

Two of my dad's favorites were "Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a goat". Meaning, both were hanging offenses if you stole them so if you're going t break the law then go for the bigger prize--the sheep. And "You can go to hell for lying, same as for stealing." I have enough old sayings from various parts of the country to fill two pages. I love collecting them and both my parents were very "colorful" speakers


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 weeks ago from Michigan Author

That is awesome! I may have heard the sheep one before - it tickles my brain a bit. Thanks for stopping by!

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