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Full text of "Intensifying similes in English .."

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INTENSIFYING SIAILES 
IN ENGLISH 

INAUGURAL DISSERTATION 

BY 



T. HILDING SVARTENGREN 

Lie. PHIL. 



BY DUE PERiMISSION OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL FACULTY OF LUND 

TO BE PUBLICLY DISCUSSED IN ENGLISH 

IN LECTURE HALL I, MAY 4th, AT 10 O'CLOCK A. M. 

FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR 

OF PHILOSOPHY 



-^^ 



LUND 1918 
Printed by Aktiebolaget Skanska Ckntraltryckkriict 



si^ 



^^ 

Preface. 

7^ 25 absurd that a hook of this Tcincl should he compiled far 
aivay from English lihraries and English-speahing surroundings, hut 
present conditions have made it imavoidahle. The English — and con- 
tinental — critic is asked kindly to hear in mind that I have not been 
able to consult any English library since August 1914, and that I 
have not had access to Swedish University Libraries for more than 
a few zveelcs every year. 3Ioreorer, their stock of English hooks 
leaves a good deal to be desired, and the slender resources of a 
Swedish school-master do not enable him to order all the hooks he 
tvould like to use and have. It must he added that many of the 
zvorks that would have been useful for this collection probably are 
out of print and not available outside the British Museum or the 
JBodleyayi. This is why it has heeen impossible for me to verify 
many of the quotations in Lean's Collectanea and other sources. 

It was originally my intention to start an inquiry on a rather 
large scale, hut my attempts in this direction soon made it evident 
that, owing to causes needless to dwell upon, postal conditions and 
other circumstances tvould not make such an inquiry an unqualified 
success. Nevertheless I have to thank Miss Edith Underwood, of 
Durham, and several correspondents of Notes & Queries for many 
'Valuable replies. 

Haditt said of his Prouerbs and Proverbial Phrases that he 
had 'spared no pains to malce it satisfactory and complete . But I 
do not think that any collection of this kind can ever he 'satisfac- 
tory and complete'. That woidd require, in the first place, a far 
more intimate aquaintance with English language and Literature 
and English life generally than can be expected from a person not 
horn to a life-long intimacy with things English. It is only natu- 
ral that my nationality shoidd peep through both in matters of style 
and of treatment. And, further, it is often extremely difficult, even 
for an English person, to decide tvhether a phrase is proverbial or 
individual or occasional. In this respect I have preferred to err on 
the side of too much rather than to be too niggardly, as many similes 
that I had suspected to be simply nonce-phrases after some time 
were found to be p)^'overbial, and the same thing may apply to 
many similes represented only by one instance. It is also in many 
cases difficult to say whether a phrase is a literal comparison or 
metaphorical, i. e. a proverbial simile. (See Introduction). It can 

418771 



tv 

nnh/ he lioped that in spite of siiortcomings and mistaX'Cft nothing 
really important shall he omitted. 

I have to apologize for many typographical inconsistances. 
Especially Chapter I leaves much to he desired in this respect. Un- 
fortunately I did not fully realize it until it ivas too late to have 
it altered. 

It is my duty, and pleasure, to acknowledge my deht of grati- 
tude to Prof. E. Elcirall, of Lund, for some literary references and 
many ati act of ohliging kindness in connection ivitli my philologiccd 
uwk, to Dr. Carl Lindsten, Headmaster and Lihrarian of Ehsjo 
Realsbola, and Dr. S. Landtmanson, Lihrarian of Vasterds hbgre 
allmdnna Idrouerk, for their very valuahle assistance. Some Scrip- 
ture references I ozve to the courtesy of my colleague J. Viotti, D. D. 
Miss Catherine Burgess, Vasterds, has heen kind enough to revise my 
style (from p. 60) and to help me read the proofs. 

Vasterds, April 7, WIS. 

T. Hilding Suaiiengren. 



Table of Contents. 

Abbreviations of Works Consulted X 

Other abbreviations XXI 

Introduction XXII 

A Song of New Similes 1 

CHAPTER I. 
Similes Referring to Mind and Character. 

Innocence and Good Character i 

Bad or Mean Character 7 

Honest, Faithful, Trustworthy 9 

Open, Straightforward 13 

Chaste 13 

Lecherous, Lewd, Common 14 

False, Fickle 20 

Flattering, Fawning, Smooth-spoken 25 

Sane 26 

Wise 26 

Clever, Crafty, Cunning, 27 

Mad, Crazy 35 

Fond (= silly, foolish) 43 

Foolish, Stupid 44 

Dull 53 

Melancholy, Gloomy 54 

Grave, Stiff 59 

Calm, Steady, Unflinching 60 

Good natured. Mild, Gentle, Patient 62 

Modest, Bashful 66 

Polite, Civil 68 

Glad, Merry 69 

Happy, Pleased, Content 77 

Laughing, Simpering, Grinning 7B 

Proud, Haughty 80 

Vain 85 

Fastidious, Nice 8o 

Jealous, Vindictive 86 



VI 



Hard-hearted, Cruel 86 

Fierce, Angry, Mad 90 

lU-tenipered, Spiteful, "Contrairy", Obstinate 95 

Ill-mauuered, Shameless lOi 

Scolding, Quarrelling 107 

Swearing 109 

Wanton, Wild 110 

Bold, Daring HI 

Coward, Timid, Wary, 114 

Lazy 115 

Eager 121 

liusy. Hard-working 122 

Miserly, Stingy, Self-denying 12G 

Secretive, Reticent, Close 129 

Knowledge 130 

Ignorance 131 

Agreement 134 

Disagreement 134 

Love, Sympathy 135 

Hatred, Antipathy 137 



CHAPTER II. 
Similes Chiefly Referring to the Human Body. 

Dead 141 

Wrinkled and Withered from Old Ago, of Low Vitality 148 

Old (high and remote age) 149 

Healthy, Hardy 151 

Strong, Chapter IV 391 

Lively, "Peart", Agile 156 

Sick, 111 162 

Nervous, See AiJpendix 418 

Lame 164 

CI umsy 165 

Hoarse, Breathing Hard 165 

Perspiring * 166 

Tired 167 

Sleeping 167 

Sharp-sighted, Awake 169 

Blind 170 

Deaf 173 

Dumb, Mute 177 

Bald 179 

Hungry, Eating 180 

Fat, Well-fed 182 

Thin, Lean 185 



VII 

Thii-sty 189 

Sober 191 

Druuk, Drinking 191 



CHAPTER III. 

Similes otherwise Referring to Form, to Colour, Size, the 
Surface and Substance of Things. 

Beautiful, Fine, Gaudy 214 

Bright, Fresh, Shining 222 

Ugly 228 

Dirty, Lousy, Untidy 229 

Ragged 230 

White 230 

Pale 234 

Grey 23G 

Dark 237 

Black 239 

Red, Blushing 246 

Green 250 

Blue 251 

Yellow 251 

Brown 252 

Bare, Naked 253 

Sharp 255 

Kough 257 

Hard 258 

Firm, Stable 261 

Rigid, Stiff 262 

Tight 263 

Tough 264 

Frail, Brittle, Broken 265 

Soft, Pliant 265 

Smooth 269 

Fiat, Even 271 

Slippery 272 

Straight 273 

Crooked 277 

Round 279 

High, Tall, Long 280 

Wide, Broad 285 

Largo, Big 287 

Small 290 

Thin 292 

- Thick 293 

Full, Crowded 294 



VlII 



Empty, Hollow 295 

Heavy 2% 

Light (of little weight) 297 

Deep, Low 298 

Steep 299 

Dry 299 

Intlamniablc 301 

Wet 301 

Bitter 303 

Sour 304 

Salt 305 

Sweet Taste aud Smell 306 

Tasteless, Vapid 308 

Rotten, Ch. IV 338 

Stiukiug 308 

Hot, Warm 310 

Cold 312 

CIIAPTKR IV. 
Other Definite Similes. 

Good 316 

Useful, Haiuly 317 

Ha rmless 317 

Unavoidable, Necessary 318 

Appropriate, Fit, Welcome 320 

Thoroughly, To Perfection, Clean, Slick 320 

Approximately 323 

Close, Near 323 

Kindred 325 

Intimacy, Familiarity 326 

Similarity 329 

Dissimilarity, Difference 332 

Unfit, Inappropriate, Unexpected 334 

Useless, Worthless 386 

Bad, Rotten 338 

Terrible, Dangerous 339 

Queer, Wonderful 339 

Free 340 

Rich 340 

Poor 341 

Dear, Expensive 344 

Cheap 346 

Easy, Simple 346 

Comfortable 349 

Difficult 350 

Safe, Secure 350 



JX 

Sure 354 

Clear, Pure . . 361 

Plaiu 36d 

Right, Sound 368 

Consistent with Facts, True 371 

Punctual 372 

Not'in Accordance with Facts, False 373 

Slow 373 

Quick, Swift 37d 

Running 381 

Trembling 382 

Motionless, Still 383 

Silence 386 

Loud; Noises 388 

Strong 391 

Weak 393 

Solitary, Lonely 394 

Common, Numerous, Plentiful 394 

Rare, Scarce 399 



CHAPTER V. 
Indefinite or General Similes. 

As good, bad &c. as ever 400 

(To do something) Like (somebody, something) 404 

As right as right 407 

Appendix 408 

CHAPTER VI. 
General Survey. 

Sources of Similes 422 

Frequency 460 

Form : 

General Remarks 463 

Use of Numerals 464 

Alliteration 465 

Assonance 467 

Rhyme 467 

Rhythm 467 

Errata 469 

Index 471 



ABBREVIATIONS OF WORKS CONSULTED. 

I. Texts. 

AD, Archy's Dream, 1641, cd. llindlcy, 1873. 

Addison. See Steele. 

Anstcy, VV, F. A., Vice Versa, 1882, Newnes Sixp. Copyright 

Novels. 
AR, The Actons' Remonstrance, or Complaint for the Silencing &c., 

1643, ed. Hendley, 1873. 
AV, Appius and Virginia, 1575, Dodsley, Old Plays, xii. 
AVe, Authorized Version. 

Arber 29, English Reprints, The Last Fight of the Revenge at 
Sea &c., described by Sir Walter Raleigh &c. 1591 — 1595, 
London, 1871. 
Band, Cuff and Ruff. 1615, cd. Ilindley, London, 1873. 
Barham, IL, R. H. B., The Ingoldsby Legends, 1840 — 42, Nelson 

& Sons, 6d Classics. 
Baring-Gould, BS, S. B.-G., The Broom-Squire, 1896, Methucn, 7d ed. 
» RS, Red Spider, 1887, Collins 3 ^/-id Novels. 

» VM, The Vicar of Morwenstow, I\Iethuen. 

Ban-, UJ, Robert B., An Unsentimental Journey, llodder & 

Stoughton, 6d. 
Barry, RA, Lodowick, B., Ram Alley, Dodsley, Old Plays, V. 
Beaumont & FlctcJicr, ]^B, Beggar's Ikish, ed. Darnley, 1840. 

» KBP, Knight of the Burning Pestle, Darnley, 

1840. 
» KK, A King and No King, Darnley 

» MT, The Maid's Tragedy, Old Engl. Plays 

ed. F. J. Cox. 
» NG, The Noble Gentleman, cd. Darnley, 1840. 

WGC, Wild Goose Chase, ed. Darnley. 
Bill, WM, J. J. B., Wee Macgreegor, 1902, Nelson. 
Bclloc, CE, H. B., Mr. Clutterbuck's FClection, 1908, Nelson. 
Beimet, BA, Arnold B., Buried Alive, 1908, llodder & Stoughton, 6d, 

» GW, » The Gates of Wrath, Chatto & Windus. 

Bi'sanf, AS, Walter B., All Sorts and Conditions of Men, 1882, 
Chatto & Windus 1908. 
» RMM, Ready Money Mortiboy, 187 1. Collins Modern iMction. 
Benson, C, E. F. li.. The Climber, 1908, Nelson 7d. 
Blackniore, LD, R. D. B., Lorna Doone, 1869, Sampson Low & Co. 



XI 

Boorde, Introduction, A. B., The Fyrst Boke of the Introduction 

of the Knowledge, 1542, EETS, es, 10. 
Burton, AM, Robert B., Anatomy of Melancholy, 162 1 Ed. 

Bohn. 
Butler, H, Samuel B., Hudibras, ed. Thomas Park, in liritish Poets, 

ed. Sharpe, XXXVI— IX. 
Caine, D, Hall C, The Deemster, 1887, 

» EC, » The Eternal City, 1901, Heinemann, The Film 

Books, III. 
CasseTs Mag. of Fiction, 19 14. 

Castle, IB, Agnes & Egerton C, Incomparable Bellairs, 1904, Nelson. 
CC, The Countryman's Care and the Citizen's Feare, 1641, ed. 

Hindley, 1873. 
Conrad, Romance, Joseph C. & F. M. Hueffer, Romance, 1903. 

Nelson. 
Copping, GG, Arthur E. C, Gotty and the Guv'nor, 1907, Nelson. 
Courlander, MS, A. C, Mightier than the Sword, 191 2, Nelson. 
Ctdlum, HM, Ridgwell C, The Hooded Man, Hodder & 

Stoughton. 
Day, BBB, Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, 1659, Dodsley. 
Dekker, GH, Thomas D., The Gvls Horne-Booke, ed. Hindley. 
» HVVh, Honest Whore London, 1873. 

» OF, The Pleasant Comedie of Old Fortunatus, Heraus- 

gegeben nach dem Drucke von 1600 von Dr. Flans 

Scherer, Miinchener Beitrage zur rom. und engl. 

Philologie, XXI. 

» PW, Penny-Wise Povnd-P"oolish, Materialien zur Kundc 

des alteren engl. Dramas, XXIII. 
» SM, Satiro-Mastix, or the Untrussing of the Humorous 
Poet, Materialien &c., XX. 
Dickens, NN, Nicholas Nickleby, Nelson Classics, 2 vol. 

» PP, The Pickwick Papers, » 

Ditchfield, PC, P. H., D., The Parish Clerk, Methuen, 1907. 
DNL, The Daily News and Leader, chiefly 19 12, 191 3. 
Doyle, AG, Sir Arthur C. D., The Adventures of Gerard, 1903, 
» Firm, » The Firm of Girdlestone, 1890, 

Collins. 
» R, » The Refugees, 1893, Nelson. 

» SP\ •» The Sign of P'our, 1 890, Nelson. 

DP, Damon and Pithias, Dodsley, Old Plays, I. 
Dryden, A, Absalom and Achitophel, Drydcn's Wks, ed. Scott & 
Saintsbury, Vol. IX. 
» Amphitryon, or the Two Sosias, ibid. vol. VIII. 
» Cleomenes, The Spartan Hero, ibid. 
» L, Limberham, or the Kind Keeper, ibid. Vol. VI. 
» Oedipus, ibid. 

» SF, The Spanish P'riar, or the Double Discovery, ibid. 
Eliot, MF, George E , The Mill on the Floss, Nelson's Classics. 



XII 



Ex)nore Scolding, London 1839 (The Collcclion was originally made 
about the beginning of the i8th c. by a blind 
itinerant fiddler. It attracted the notice of a 
neighbouring clergyman, who by the fiddler's 
assistance put the Exmore Scolding into the form ; 
in which we have it now, and before his death, 
which happened soon after 1725, communicated it 
to the editor of the first and subsequent editions). 

J'orJ, LM, John F., The Lovers Melancholy, INLitcrialien &c. XXIIL 
» LS, » Loues Sacrifice, ibid. 

Fox, TG, S. M. F., This Generation, 191 3, Fisher Unwiii. 

Galsivorthy, CH, John G., The Country House, 1907, Nelson. 



» F, » 

IP, » 

» M, » 

» MP, » 

» P, » 

GGN, See Still, GGN. 

Gissing, CL, George R. G 

» FC, » 



The Fugitive, 191 3, Plays Vol. Ill, 

Duckworth. 
The Island Pharisees, 1904, Heincmann. 
The Mob, Plays Vol. III. 
Man of Property, 1906, Heinemann. 
The Pigeon, Plays, Vol. III. 



The Crown of Life, 1899, 

Our Friend the Charlatan, 1901, 

Chapman & Hall. 
New Grub Street, 1891, Smith, Polder 

& Co. 
House of Cobwebs, 1906, Constable. 
The Town Traveller, 1898, The 

Novelist, XXIX. 
The Good-Natured Man, ed. Cunning- 
ham, Vol. I. 
She Stoops to Conquer, Cunningham. 
The Vicar of Wakefield, » 

Greene, P13B, Robert G., Friar Bacon and F'riar Bungay, Dodsley, 

Old Plays VIII. 
GU, The Generous Usurer Mr. Nevell, 1641, cd. Hindley, 1873. 
Hardy, DR, Thomas H., Desperate Remedies, 1871, 



» GS, » 

» HC, » 
TT, 

Goldsmith, GNM, Oliver G. 

» ssc, » 
vw. 



FMC, 

GND, 

HE, 

JO, 

Lao 

LLI, 

MC, 

PBE, 

RN, 

Tess 

TM, 

TT. 

UGT, 



P"ar P'rom the Madding Crowd, 1874. 

A Group of Noble Dames, 1891. 

The Hand of Ethelbertha, 1876. 

Jude the Obscure, 1896. 

A Laodicean, 188 1, 

Life's Little Ironies, 1894. 

The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886. 

A Pair of Blue Eyes, 1873. 

The Return of the Native, 1878. 

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 1892. 

The Trumpet Major, 1880. 

Two on a Tower, 1882. 

Under the Greenwood Tree, 1872. 



Hardy, W, Thomas H., The Woodlanders, 1887. 
» WB, » The Well-beloved, 1897. 

» WT, » The VVessex Tales, 1888; all McMillan 

& Co. 
Harland, MFP, Henry, H., My Friend Prospero, Nelson. 

Harraden, I, Beatrice H., Interplay, 1908, Nelson. 
Harriso7t, A, Constance Cary H., The Anglomaniacs, 1887. The 

Engl. Library, Brockhaus. 
Hawkins, The Hawkins' Voyages, 1530 — 1593, Hakluyt Soc. 1878. 
Hey wood, CGW, Thomas H., A Pleasant conceited Comedie, 

wherein is shewed how a man 
may choose a good wife from a 
bad, 1 60 1 (for date and author- 
ship, see Materialien &c. XXV, 
Prof. Swaen). 
» WKK, » A Woman Killed with Kindness, 

Old Engl. Plays, ed. Cox. 
Hocking-, MF, Joseph H., O'er Moor and Fen, 1901, Hodder & 

Stoughton. 
Hope, PZ, The Prisoner of Zenda, 1894, Nelson. 

» RH, Rupert of Hentzau, 1898, » 

Horntmg, TN, H. W. H., A Thief in the Night, 1905, Nelson. 
Jackson s Recantation, 1674, ed. Hindley, 1873. 
Jacobs, MC, W. W. J., Many Cargoes, 1896, Newnes 6d Novels. 
Johnson, R, Samuel J., Rasselas, The Prince of Abissinia, J:'s Wks, 

Oxford, 1825, Vol. I. 
Jonson, Alch., Ben J., The Alchemist, The King's Library, ed. 

Gollancz. 
\i » EM, Ben J., Every Man in his Humour. Old Engl. Plays, 

ed. Cox. 
Kingsley, HW, Hereward the Wake, Nelson. 

» WH, Westward Hoe! Ward, Lock & Co. 

Kipli7ig, PW, Poetical, Works, New York, Crowel & Co. 
Langland, PPl. W. Langland, Pierce Plowman. 
Lieder, Die gedruckten engl. Liederbiicher bis 1600, ed. Bolle, 

Palaestra XXIX, Berlin, 1903. 
London, BA, Jack L., Before Adam, 1909, Collins. 

» CF, » Children of the Frost, 1902, ed. Newnes. 

» CW, » The Call of the Wild, 1903, Heinemann, 1912. 

» DS, » A Daughter of the Snows, 1902, Nelson. 

» FM, » The Faith of Men, 1904, Heinemann, 19 12. 

» FP, » Tales of the Fish Patrol, 1906, Heinemann. 

» Game, » The Game, 1905, Heinemann, 191 3. 

y> GF, r> The God of his Fathers, Everett. 

» IH, » The Iron Heel, 1909, » 

» LL, » Love of Life, 1908, » 

» ME, » Martin Eden, 1910, Heinemann, 191 5. 

» MF, » Moon-face 1906, » 



London, SB, Jack L., Smoke Bellew, 1912 Mills & Boon. 
» SP, » The Scarlet Plague, » 

» SS, » The Son of the Sun, 191 2, Mills & Boon. 

» SST, » South Sea Tales, Mills & Boon, 191 1. 

> SVV, » The Sea Wolf, 1904, Hcinemann. 

Longfellow, SSt, Henry, W. L., The Spanish Student, ed. Diirr, 

Leipzig, 1867. 
Lo?ig Meg; The Life of, ed. Hindley, 1873. 

Lyall, DV, Edna L., Derrick Vaughan and the Autobiography of 

a Slander, 1887, 89, The Engl. Library, Brockhaus. 

Lydgate, CBK, John L., Complaint of the black Knight, ed. Krausser, 

Halle, 1896. 
Lyly, AC, Alexander and Campaspe, Dodsley, 1825. 
» MB, Mother Bombie, Ed. Warwick Bond, 1902. 
Maclaren, YB, Ian M., Young Barbarians, 190 1, 6d ed. 
Malvcry, SM, Olive Christian M., The Soul Market, 1907, Hutchinson. 
Marchmont, CF, A. W. M., A Courier of Fortune, 1905, Ward, 

Lock & Co. 
Marloive, ES, Christopher M., Edward the Second, Old P2ngl. 

Drama, Clarendon, 1899. 
» F, » The Tragical History of Dr. P'austus, 

Old P^ngl. Plays, ed. Cox. 
Masefield, CM, John M., Captain Margaret, Nelson, 1909. 

» MS, » Multitude and Solitude, 1909, Nelson. 

» Poems and Ballads, 19 10. 

» PG, John M., Tragedy of Pompey the Great, 19 10, 

Sidgwick and Jackson. 
Massinger, VM, Philip, M., The Virgin Martyr. 
Mason, PK, A. PL. W. M., & Andrew Lang, Parson Kelly, 1900, 

Newnes 6d. 
May, H, Thomas May, The Heir, 1622, Dodsley, Old Plays, VIIL 
Mehisine, compiled by Jean D' Arras, englisht about 1500, ed. 

Donald, LETS, es, LXVIII. 
Meyriman, LH, H. Seton M., The Last Hope, 1904, Nelson. 
Milton, Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, ed. W. T. Wilson, Yale 

Studies in English, New York, 191 1. 
MM, The Man in the Moon, or the PLnglish Fortune Teller, 1609, 

ed. Halliwell, 1849. 
MS, The Prophesie of Mother Shipton, 1641, ed. Hindley, 1873. 
N. Age, The New Age, Vol. X, 19 10. 
NasJie, Thomas, Wks, ed. by Ronald B, McKerrow, Sidgwick & 

Jackson, 1904 — 1910. 
NC, New Custom, 1566, Dodsley, Old Plays, I. 
NG, Thom Nash, his Ghost, 1642, ed. Hindley, 1873. 
Norris, Jim, W, E. N., My Friend Jim, 1886, McMillan, 1909. 
Northbroke, DD, John N., A Treatise against Dicing, Dancing, 
Plays, and Interludes, c. 1577, ed. J. P. Collier, 1843. 
Notes, R. B. McKerrow 's Notes to the Wks of Thomas Nashe. 



XV 

Oxenham, Gate, John O., The Gate of the Desert, Daily Mail 6d 

Novels, 1905. 
» MS, » A Maid of the Silver Sea, 1910, Hodder 

& Stoughton, 19 1 2. 
Pam, DO, Barry P., De Omnibus, 1901, Fisher Unvvin. 
Pedes Jests, Meriie Conceited Tests of George Peele, Gentleman. 

Date? ed. Hindley, 1873. 
Pepys, Diary, ed. Braybrooke & Wheatly, London, 1893, Vol. I, II. 
Phillpotts, AP, Eden P., American Prisoner, 1904, Nelson. 

» M, » The Mother, Ward, Lock & Co. 7d., 1908. 

, » P, » The Portreeve, 1906, Unwin's Libr. 

» SW, » The Secret Woman, 1905. 

» TK, » Three Knaves, 19 12, McMillan. 

» WF, » Widecombe Fair, 19 13, Nelson. 

Pinero, BD, Arthur W. P., The Big Drum, 191 5, Heinemann. 
Poe, TMI, E. A. P., Tales of Mystery and Imagination. 
Pope, Dunciad, Wks of A. P. by Croker, Elvvin & Courthope, 

London, Vol. II, 1871, Vol. IV, 1882. 
» EC, An Essay on Criticism. 
» Rape of the Lock, 
Porter, TAW, Henry P., Two Angry Women of Abington, 1599, 

Percy Soc. Vol. V. 
"Q" MV, Major Vigoreux, 1907, Nelson. 
Pnritan, The Puritaine or the Widow of Watling-streete, 1607, ed. 

C. F. Tucker Brooke (probably by Marston). 
Resptiblica, A Play on the Social Condition of England at the 
Accession of Queen Mary, ed. Magnus, EETS, es, XCIV. 
Richardson, P, Samuel R., Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, The Wks of 

S. R., ed. by Lesslie Stephen, London, 1883. 
SC, The Stagefilayers' Complaint, 1641, ed. Hindley, 1873. 
Scott, A, Walter, S., The Antiquary, Everyman's Libr. 
» OM, » Old Mortality, Nelson. 

» RR, » Rob Roy, Collins. 

» W, » Waverley, Collins. 

Sharphan, F, Edward S., Fleire, 1607, Ed. Nibbe, Materialien, 1912. 
Shak., Shakespeare, The Wks of, ed. W. G. Clark, J. Glover & 
W. A. Wright, Cambridge, 1863 — 6, unless otherwise stated. 
The plays are quoted by initials only : MND, Midsummer 
Night's Dream, LLL, Love's Labour's Lost, KH IVa, 1st Pt 
of King Henry IV, &c. 
Shan\ CBP, Bernard S., Cashel Byron's Profession, ante 1883, 

Constable, 19 14. 
» IK, » The Irrational Knot, » , Constable. 

» LA, » Love among Artists, » , » 

Sheridan, R, Richard B. S., The Rivals, McMillan's Libr. of Engl. 

Classics. 
» SS, » School for Scandal, ibid. 



Kvr 

Smollei, RR, Tobias S., Roderick Random. Wks of T. S., ed. J. 

Moore, London, 1797. vol. II. 
Snow Storm, The Great Snow Storm of 1614, ed. Hindley, 1873. 
Songs, Carols, and other miscellaneous Poems, from the Balliol MS 
354, Richard Hill's Commonplace Book, cd. Dyboski, EETS, 
es, CI. 
Spenser, FQ, Faerie Qeene, cd. McMillan. 
ST, Sheep Tracts, c. 1550, EETS. es, XIII. 
Starkey, Enojand in the Reign of King Henry Mil, cd. Sidney 

J. Herrtage, EETS, es, XXXIl". 
Steele & Addison., Essays, The Lover and other Papers, Scott Libr., 

1887. 

» » Spectator. 

Stevenson, NAN, Robert L. S., New Arabian Nights, 1882, Collins, 

» TI, » Treasure Island, 1883, Cassel & Co. 

Still, GGN, John S., A ryght pithy, pleasant, and merrie Comedy, 

intytuled Gammer Gurton's Needle, 1575, Dodsley, 1825, I. 

Stowe, UTC, Harriet Becher S., Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852, Nelson's 

6d Classics. 
Supplication, Four S., 1529 — 1553, EETS, es, XIII. See above ST. 
SV, Studies in Verse, The Grafton Press, New York, 1905. 
Szvift, GT, Jonathan S., Gulliver's Travels; 
» PC, Polite Conversation. 

» TT, Tale of a Tub, Bohn's Standard Libr. 1899 — 1900. 
Tailor, HLP, Robert T., The Hog hath lost its Pearl, Dodsley, 

Old Plays, VI. 
Taylor. CU, John T. (Water Poet), Certain Travailes of an Uncer- 
tain Journey, 1653. 
>^ DS, » A New Discovery by Sea, 1623, 

» FT, » Farewell to the Tower-bottles, 

1622. 
» GE, » The Great Eater of Kent, &c., 

1630. 
» GN, » Sir Gregory Nonsense, His 

Newes from no place, 1622. 
■f> JL, » Jacke a Lent, His beginning 

and Entertainment, 1630. 
» KW, » The Kings Majesties Welcome 

to Hampton Court, 1647. 
» MP", » Mad P'^ashions, 1642. 

» MV, » A Very Merry Wherry Voyage, 

1622. 
> NL, » A Navy of Land ships, 1627. 

y OM, » The Old, Old Very Old Man, 

1635- 
» PP, > Ihe Pennyless Pilgrimage, 161 8. 

» SL, » A Short Relation of a Long 

Journe}', 165?. 



xvit 

Taylor, ST, John T. (Water Poet) Part of this Summers Travels, 

1639. 
» TH, » Observations and Travels from 

London to Hamburg, 1617. 
» UF, » The Unnatural Father, 1621. 

» WR, » Walker's Recentation, 1642. 

» WV, » Western Voyage to the Mount, 

1649. All ed. Hindley, 1873. 
TD, A Three-fold Discourse betweene the Neighbours Aldgate 
Bishopsgate, and John Heyden, &c., 1642, ed. Hindley, 1873. 
Thackeray, BL, W. M. T., Barry Lyndon, Nelson. 
» BS., » Book of Snobs, » 

» HE, » Henry Esmond, Collins. 

The Three Khigs So7is, Englisht from the French about 1 500, ed. 

Furnivall, EETS, es, LXVIL 
Tourneur, RT, Cyril T., The Reuengers Tragoedie, ed. Collins, 1878. 
Tozvneley Mysteries, ed. Surtees Soc, 1836. 
Town-Gallant, The Character of a Town-Gallant, 1675, ed. Hindley 

1873. 
Town-Miss, The Character of a Town-Miss, 1680, ed. Hindley, 

1873. 
Tracy, Pillar, Louis T., The Pillar of Light, 1905, Ward, Lock 

& Co. 
Trtie Scold, Poor Robin's True Character of a Scold, 1678, Hindley, 

1873. 
Ttvain. HF, Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, 1884, Nelson. 

» TS, » Tom Sawyer, 1876, Nelson. 

Udall, RRD, Nicholas U., Ralph Roister-Doister, 1566, Cooper, 

Shak. Soc, 1847. 
Vachell, B, H. A. V., Brothers, 1904, Nelson. 

>-> OS, » The Other Side, 1910, Nelson. 

» SB, » The Silent Barrier, 1909? Ward, Lock 

& Co. 
» WJ, » The Waters of Jordan, 1908, Nelson. 

VW, The Valiant Welshman, by R. A., Gent. ed. Kreb. 
Vinegar & Mu., Vinegar and Mustard, or Wormwood Lectures 

&c., 1673, ed. Hindley. 
Walto?t, CA, Isac Vv^., Charles Cotton, The Complete Angler, ed. 

J. Major, London, 1889. 
WCh, Worlde and the Chylde, 1522, Dodsley, XII. 
Wells, AV, H. G. W., Anne Veronica, 1909, Unwin's Libr. 
» FMM, The First Men in the Moon 1901. 
» Kipps, 1905. 

» LL, Love and Mr. Lewisham, 1900, Nelson. 

» MP, The History of Mr. Polly, 19 10, Nelson. 
» WA, War in the Air, 1908. 
White, BT, S. E. V/., The Blazed Trail, 1906, Nelson. 



xviii 

White, SE, Fred M. W., The Seed of the Empire, 1916, Ward, 

Lock & Co. 6d. 
Whiteing, No. 5, Richard W., No. 5 John Street, 1899, Nelson. 
Widow, A Comedy, probably written by Ben Jonson, Fletcher, and 

Middleton, 1616, Dodsley, XII. 
Yoxall, RS, James H. Y., The Rommany Stone, 1902, Collins. 
Za7igwill, MP, Israel Z., The Melting Pot, 1909, Heinemann, 1914. 



II. Collections, Dictionaries, and Other Works. 

Baedecker, Great Britain, Leipzig, 1906. 

» London. 

Baumaym, Londonismen, Berlin, 1887. 
Be?iliaui, \V. Gurney B., Book of Quotations, Cassel & Co., London, 

1907. 
Blakeborough, NRY, Wit, Character, Folk-lore, and Customs of the 

North Riding of Yorkshire, London, 1898. 
Breiver, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 

» Reader's Handbook. 
Brooks Adams, The Law of Civilization and Decay, McMillan & 

Co., 1910. 
Bridge, CP, Joseph C. B., Cheshire Proverbs, and other Sayings 
&c. Chester, 1917 (Reached the Compiler Dec. 26, 1917). 
Britten and Holland, Dictionary of E^nglish Plant Names, Engl. 

Dial. Soc. 45, 1884. 
Chambers, Book of Days, London 1862 — 4. 
{^Carpenter, F. I., Metaphor and Simile in the Minor Elizabethan 
Drama, Chicago, 1895. 
CD, The Century Dictionary. 
Clarke, John C, Parnemiologia Anglo-Latina, or the same writer's 

Phraseologia PucriHs, 1638 & 1639 (Lean). 
Cleveland Glossary, ed. Atkinson, 1868. 

Clouston, PTF, W. A. C, Popular Tales and Fictions, 1887, Black- 
wood & Sons. 
COD, The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 191 1, Clarendon. 
Corson, PI., Index and Proper Names . . . with Comparisons and 

Similes. Chaucer Soc, 191 1. 
Coivan, PS, Frank C, A Dictionary of the Proverbs . . . relating 
to the Sea, Greensborough, 1894. . 

DNB, Diet, Nat. Biog., Dictionary of National Biography. 
*^ Grose, P'rancis, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785, 
or the same writer's Provincial Glossary with a 
Collection of Local Proverbs, 1787 (Lean). , 

Dyer, FP, T. D., The Folklore of Plants, London, 1889. 
EDD, The P^nglish Dialect Dictionary. 
Enc. Brit., Encyclopedia Biitannica. 



) 



XIX 

Folkard, PL, R. F., Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics. 1884, London 

Foster, A Shakespeare Word-Book, Routledge & Son, n. d., 

Fuller, Gnomologia, London, 18 16. 

Fuller, W. Worthies. London, 1840. 

6"i'«/(leman's) J/(3^(azine), passim. 

Gomme, G, L., The Handbook of Folk-Lore, Folk-Lorc Soc. 20, '^ 

1890, London. 
Grubh, Chr., Penu Proverbiale, Svcnske Ordseder, &c., Linkoping, 

1665. 
H, see Hazlitt. 

Hdckel, W, Das Sprichwort bei Chaucer.-Erlanger Beitrage &c., 1890. 
Hallhvell, J. O., Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, ^ 

1904, London. 
Hazlitt, W. C, iLnglish Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, London, 

1907. 
» DP'F, Dictionary of Faiths and Folk-Lore, London, 1905. 

Heise, GS, Gleichnisse bei Shakespeare. 

Heyivood, PE, The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John 

H., ed. J, Farmer, Early Engl. Dramatists, 1906. 

Hjehnqiiist, Bibliska Personers namn i sekundar anvandning i ny- 

svenskan, 1903. 
Huline, NH, li. II., Natural History Lore and Legend, London, 

1895. 
Jackson & Bnrne, Shropshire Folklore, London, 1883. 
Kissel, ]., Das Sprichwort bei dem mittelschottischen Dichter Sir 

David Lyndsay, Niirnberg, 1890. 
Klaeber, Das Bild bei Chaucer, Teil I, Abschnitt i, Sammlung der 

Bilder aus der Tierwelt, Berlin, 1892. 
Kluge, Mittelenglisches Lesebuch. 

MeiklejoJm, M. J. C., London, A Short History, London, 1908. 
Muret-Sanders, Worterbuch der Deutschen Sprache. 
NED, The New English Dictionary. 

N. & Q. Notes & Queries, from the beginning to May, 1917. 
The Nineteentii Centuiy, 19 10. 
Northall, FPh, G. F. N., Folk-Phrases of Four Counties, 

» FR, » English P'olk Rhymes, London, 1892. 

» WW, » Warwickshire Wordbook, » 1896. 

Ostberg, H, O., Personal Names in Appellative Use in English, 

Uppsala. 
Feggc, Derbicisms, ed. Skeat & Hallam, E. Dial. Soc, 1896 (origin- 
ally compiled and written betw. 1751 and c. 1796). 
Palmer, FE, A. Smythe P. P^olk-P^tymology, London, 1882. 
Poutsma, II., A Grammar of Late Modern P^nglish, Groningen, 1905. 
Ray, Compleat Collection of English Proverbs, Cambridge, 1670 

(1768). 
Rietz, Ordbok over Svenska Allmoge Spraket, Lund, 1862. 
Roby, J., The Traditions of Lancashire, London, 1892. 
Rog(et), P. M., Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. 



XX 

Sellert, Friedrich, Das Bild in Pierce the Plowman, Rostock, 1904. 
Howell, James, Paroimilogia, 1659 (Lean). 
i^Slang, Farmer & Henley, Slang and its Analogues, 1890 — 1904; 
also A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English, 1905. 
Skeat, A Student's Pastime, 1896. 
Sloet, Planten, L. A. J. W. Baron Sloet, De Planten in het Germaansche 

Volksgebruik, 'SGravenhage, 1890. 
» Dieren, » De Dieren in het Germaansche Volks- 

geloof en Volksgebruik, ibid. 1887. 
Stoett, NS, F. A. S., Nederlandsche Spreekwoorden, Uitdrukkingen 
en Gezegden, Zutphen, 19 16. (Some of the 
first quotations are from earlier editions). 
Storm, EP, J. S., Englische Philologie, Leipzig, 1896. 
Sivainsoji, BB, Charles S., The P^olklore and Provincial Names of 

British Birds, F'olklore Soc, 1886. 
Thor7iton, R. H., An American Glossary, Philadeljjhia, 191 2. 
Torriano, Giovanni, A Commonplace of Italian Proverbs, &c. 1666 

(Lean). 
Voigt, H., Gleichnisse und Metaphcrn in Shakespcares Dramcn, 

Strassburg, 1908. 
VV, see WiUert. 

Wajider, Deutsches Sprichworter-Lexikon, Leipzig, 1867 — 80. 
Ware, J. R., Passing English of the Victorian Era, London, 1909. 
Webster, Complete Dictionary of the Engl. Language. 
Wenstrom-Harlock , Svensk-Engelsk Ordbok, Skolupplaga. 
Willert^ Die alliterierenden P"ormeln in der englischen Sprache, 

Halle, 191 1. 
Wheatley, Henry B., The Story of London, London, 1909. 
Withals, John, Diet, in P^nglish and Latin, numerous editions fr, 

1521 to 1634 (Lean). 
Woody Manx P., G. VV. W., Proverbs and Sayings of the Isle of 

Man, Folk Lore, XXXTV, 229 ft". 
WL, Wenstrom-Lindgren, Engelsk-Svensk P'ickordbok. 
Wright, RS, M. A. R., Rustic Speech and Folklore, Oxford, 19 13. 
The Yorkshire Dialects, exemplified in various Dialogues, Tales 
and Songs, London, 1839. 

Note. Owing to the deplorable circumstance that many English 
Publishers still leave their works undated, it has been impossible to date - 
all the above books. Some of the dates, hunted up in various catalogues, 
Literary Yearbooks, &c. may be found incorrect. The present writer 
cannot be held responsible for tlie inaccuracies of these works of reference. 
The dates given to early MnE works recently edited arc those ascribed 
to them by their editors. 

The abbreviations of dialects and counties are those used by the 
English Dialect Dictionary. 

For passages quoted from NF2D as a rule only the dates and the 
writers' names are given. 



Other Abbreviations. 

c. =z circa, or :^=^ cent., century. 

cf. = confer. 

CO. =: county. 

cor. '-ZZ correspondent. 

cp z^ compound. 

Cy :=: country. 

dial, ^r: dialect(s), dialectally. 

ed. = edited, edition, editor. 

fig. figurative(ly). 

fr. z=z from. 

gen. sim. z=z general simile. 

inst., insts = instance, instances. 

iron., := ironical. 

lit. =: literary, literature. 

Obs! — =: observe. 

obs. = obsolete. 

rec. = recorded. 

sim. = simile(s). 

St. = standard. 

C. =. George Carline, Esq. of 3 Park Crescent, Oxford. 

U. = Miss Edith Underwood, of 19 Western Hill, Durham. 



Introduction. 

Aim and Scope. 

The aim of this book is to give a collection of Intensifying 
Similes in luiglish, chiefly Modern English, i. e. such proverbial 
niethaporical comparisons as intensify a quality or an action to 
an indefinite high degree. It is necessary to emphasize ijitcnsifying 
and niethaporical, as one finds that these ideas are sometimes lost 
sight of in the discussions of problems connected with these phe- 
nomena. The passage "She tore a little hole, about as big as a 
wafer, in the brown paper" (Hardy), contains no sim., but a lite- 
ral measurement, more or less exact, l^ut if wc arc told that 
a piece of bread is as thin as a wafer, it is a metaphorical way 
of saying that it is very thin indeed. If the fairy-tales say that the 
giant whom Jack killed was as high as a house, it is a metaphor 
to describe his huge size, but if a bricklayer thinks that his scaffold 
was just as high as a house, it is more or less a measurement of 
the actual size. A boy on the village green will boast that he 
can throw his ball almost as high as the Maypole, and tell his 
friends that his father is as tall as a Maypole. In the first instance 
it may be an exaggeration, but it is an actual measurement that 
is aimed at, the second is an hyperbolical metaphor. These in- 
stances tell us two things, in the first place, how slight the differ- 
ence and how easy the transition may be from a literal comparison 
to a metaphorical simile, and, in the second place, how difficult 
it is to decide whether a phrase is a literal comparison or a simile, 
unless the full context is given. There are further many similes 
that are not intensifying. 'To creep like a snail, to go along like 
blazes' are descriptive similes. But 'to talk like blazes' would be 
both descriptive and intensifying at the same time. The same 
thing can be said of many other similes, especially verbal ones, i. 
c, similes in which the first member is expressed by a verb, but 
also to some adjectival similes, e. g. those referring to colours, 
which allude just as much to a certain kind of colour as to a high 
degree of it. From this we learn that the sphere of the Intensifying 
Simile cannot be circumscribed definitely. Therefore, it will some- 
times be difficult to say whether a phrase ought to be included 
or no. 



xxni 

Rut "the researches of h'nguists, mythologists, and ethnogra- 
phers have no other aim; the task is invariably the description of 
a human mind or of the characteristics common to a group of 
minds ^" The aim of this work is not only to collect these looi 
similes, but to try to find out, as far as this will be possible for 
a person in the compiler's position, the human interests behind 
them, the experiences and the circumstances of life and the outlook 
upon life that have helped to create them. 



Previous Treatment. 

Intensifying in English has been dealt with by many, chiefly 
continental, scholars. Best known among the works bearing on 
the subject are C. Stoffel's Intensivcs and Down-toners, A Study in 
English Adverbs, Heidelberg, 1901, and Dr. Eugen Borst's Die 
Gradadvej'bien im Englischen^ ^ Heidelberg, 1902. Borst devotes a 
paragraph to Vergleichmgy and gives some few instances, old and 
new. Elvvorthy, in his Grammar of the Dialect of West- Somerset, 
also gives a few pages to the subject. In old collections of pro- 
verbs we find lists of Similes, and already in 1600 there was pub- 
lished A Treasure or Storehouse of Similes by Robert Cawdray. 
This booT< is not obtainable in Sweden, but to judge from quota- 
tions it seems to be a rather large collection of all sorts of meta- 
phors. In Ray's Hafidbook of Proverbs there is a list of some 250 
''proverbial similes", but not a few of these are descriptive. Bohn, 
who edited Ray's Handbook, added some few in his Complete 
Alphabet of Proverbs. A more important addition was made by 
Hazlitt in his Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, and in Lean's Col- 
lectanea., Vol. II, ii we find A New Treasury of Similes, a collec- 
tion of both intensifying and descriptive similes comprising 140 
pp. It is founded on earlier collections and, above all, his own 
extensive readings. In spite of its size. Lean's Treasury is not 
satisfactory. There are few attempts at explanation, not a few old 
mistakes have been copied, and his quotations are not always reli- 
able, as he did not make it a rule to copy literally. When he 
found in Shakespeare the expression 'a merry Greek', it turned out 
in his collection 'as merry as a Greek' &c. Many of the short- 
comings are due to the fact that Lean died before he had com- 
pleted his work, and his editors did not always understand his 
entries, and many of the notes he scribbled in the margin of his 
manuscripts have been ridiculously misplaced. The present volume, 
apart from the compiler's own reading, is largely founded upon 
Lean's Treasury, the collections of the Neiv English Dictionary 

' Leon Mead, Word Coinage, 46. 

^ I owe a debt of gratitude to the memory of Dr. Borst, who fell fighting 
for his country in the beginning of the war. It was his Gradadverbien that drew 
my attention to the present subject. 



XXIV 

the Slang Dictionary, and the English Dialect Dictioiary ^ without 
the aid of which the work would have been practically impossible. 
It need hardly be mentioned that the quotations from Lean must 
be taken with caution. 

I Arrangement. 

Two methods of arranging proverbs are possible, the alphabet- 
ical one, and a classification under various headings. The alphabetical 
method is easy to handle, and is therefore very often resorted to. 
But in the case of intensifying similes it is not satisfactory from a 
scientific point of view, as it regards the form rather than the thing 
itself. Being mechanical and superficial, it does not compel the 
collector to put these proverbial expressions into their natural con- 
texts, which alone can bring out and illustrate the precise meaning. 
Having found what he regards as the standard form of the saying 
and its place in the alphabetical system, he may rest satisfied. As 
a matter of fact, previous collectors have too often done so. That 
is one of the reasons why it is often difficult to get at the exact 
force of a proverb. But the alphabetical arrangement is unsatis- 
factory also from a practical point of view. It is almost impossible 
to find a proverb, unless one knows the exact wording or at least 
the first words. Therefore the other method, a classification under 
various headings is preferable. A table for the scientific classifica- 
tion of proverbs is given in Vol. 34, p. 235 fif. of the publications 
of the Folklore Society, arranged upon the lines laid down in the 
Handbook of Folklore, but it is not fully satisfactory, as it classi- 
fies proverbs botlT according to their meaning and their form. The 
various subdivisions are to a large extent alphabetically arranged, 
which causes things naturally connected to be given under differ- 
ent headings far apart. A proverb like 'drunk as David's sow' 
would have to be repeated three times, first: I, Anthropological, 
(a) Eating and Drinking; second: III, Physical, (p), Rural, 76, 
Natural History, A, Animals; and last, Historical, Personal. Accord- 
ing to this system, most sim. would have to be given at least 
twice, or, if it is given only once, it would have to be referred to 
somewhere else. In this way the collection would become an 
elaborate network of references and cross-references, but it would 
lack the governing principle. Howewcr interesting may be the 
sources from which a proverb is drawn, one must never forget 
that the chief thing about it is always its meaning, and a system 
that starts from anything else is doomed to a more or less com- 
plete failure. Therefore, in the following pages, similes have been . 
classified according to the meaning of the first member of the i 
comparison, as far as it has been possible to find it out. This ^ 
has not always been easy, as many of the sim. taken out of dic- 
tionaries and other collections, lack their natural context. In many 
cases this is of no importance, as the first member of the com- 



XXV 

parlson is clearly enough defined by itself. "As drunk as an owl" 
does not want any elucidating context, but "as hard as nails" can 
only be understood contextually. The more wide and vague the 
sense of the word representing the first member is, the more ne- 
cessary is a context. But there is another difificulty about this 
system. The word that represents the first member may mean 
more than one thing, e. g. as big as bull-beef, as hard as nails. 
This makes it necessary to have the same sim. under various 
headings. These differences of meaning may be so subtle and 
gradual that our system becomes too gross, and the arrangement 
a more or less arbitrary matter. 

Intensifying similes may be divided into two groups, Defiiiite 
Similes and General Similes, In the sim. "as good, bad, &c. as 
ever twanged" the second member as ever twanged can be used, 
as a standard of comparison, of practically anything, it is of gene- 
ral application, hence the sim. has been called general. On the 
other hand, in the sim. "as drunk as an owl" the second member 
oiol, can be used as a standard of comparison only within a very 
limited or definite sphere. Hence such sim. have been termed de- 
finite. The General Similes are very unimportant compared with 
the other group. 

The system arrived at is as follows: — 

I. Similes referring to Mind and Character. 
II. Similes chiefly referring to the Human Body. 
III. Similes otherwise referring to form, to Colour, Size, 

the Surface and Substance of Things. 
VI. Other Definite Similes. 
V. General Similes. 

As every one will see, the different chapters do not altogether 
exclude one another, but it is to be hoped that the arrangement 
offers no practical difficulties. Each chapter has been divided into 
sections, as will be found in the Table of Content. It has been my 
endeavour to arrange these sections systematically, i, e. things that 
are naturally connected have been placed together. This has not 
always made it easier to find a certain sim., and I am now willing 
to admit that it might perhaps have been just as good a plan to 
arrange these sections alphabetically, somewhat on the lines adop- 
ted by Wander in his DeutscJies Sprichzvorter-Lexikon. — The similes 
of each section have been arranged according to the sources, i. e. 
the provinces of life and nature from which they have been drawn. 
The table will be roughly this: — 

I. Religion. 



History, Tradition. 

Human Beings. 

Parts of the Human Body. 

Drink and Food. 

Clothing. 



xxvt 



Money. 

Implements and Tools in and about the house, the house 

and its parts. 
Metals, Minerals, Wood as raw material. 
Human Actions, Abstract Nouns. 
Place-names. 
Domestic Animals. 
Other Animals. 

Vegetable Kingdom, apart from 5. 
Inanimate Nature. 
Seasons and Days, 

For a more detailed list of the various groups, see p. 432 fif. 
I have purposely abstained from making this table fixed and rigid 
so as not to prevent a natural combination of things naturally 
connected. But this, on the other hand, has brought about a 
certain laxness, and many cases of inconsistency have to be apo- 
logized for. 



9 
10 
1 1 
12 
13 
14 
15 
16 



A Song of New Similes. 

My passion is as mustard strong: 
I sit all sober sad; 
Drunk as a piper all day long, 
Or like a March hare mad. 

Round as a hoop the bumpers flow; 
I drink, yet can't forget her; 
For tho' as drunk as David's sow, 
I love her still the better. 

Pert as a pear-monger I'd be. 
If Molly were but kind; 
Cool as a cucumber could see 
The rest of womankind. 

Like a stuck pig I gaping stare. 
And eye her o'er and o'er; 
Lean as a rake with sighs and care, 
Sleek as a mouse before. 

Plump as a partridge was I known, 
And soft as silk my skin, 
My cheeks as fat as butter grown; 
But as a groat now thin ! 

I melancholy as a cat, 
Am kept awake to weep; 
But she, insensible of that, 
Sound as a top can sleep. 

Hard is her heart as flint or stone, 
She laughs to see me pale. 
And merry as a grig is grown. 
And brisk as bottled ale. 

The God of Love at her approach 
Is busy as a bee. 

Hearts sound as any bell or roach, 
Are smit and sigh like me. 



A\\ me! as thick as hops or hail, 
The kvx men crowd about her; 
Hut-.3pon as dfead as a doornail 
' Shall L be if without her. 

Straight as my leg her shape appears; 
O were we joined together ! 
My heart would be scot-free from cares, 
And lighter than a feather. 

As fine as five-pence is her mien, 
No drum was ever tighter; 
Her glance is as the razor keen, 
And not the sun is brighter. 

As soft as pap her kisses are, 
Methinks I taste them yet; 
Brown as a berry is her hair. 
Her eyes as black as jet: 

As smooth as glass, as white as curds. 
Her pretty hand invites; 
Sharp as a needle are her words, 
Her wit like pepper bites: 

Brisk as a body-louse she trips. 
Clean as a penny drest; 
Sweet as a rose her breath and lips, 
Round as the globe her breast. 

Full as an egg was I with glee; 
And happy as a king. 
Good h — d ! How all men envied me ! 
She loved like anything. 

But false as hell, she like the wind, 
Changed, as her sex must do; 
Tho' seeming as the turtle kind. 
And like the gospel true. 

If I and Molly could agree. 
Let w^ho would take Peru I 
Great as an Kmp'ror should I be. 
And richer than a Jew; 

Till you grow tender as a chick 
I'm dull as any post; 
Let us like burs together stick, 
And warm as any toast. 



You'll know me truer than a die, 
And wish me better sped; 
Flat as a flounder when I lie, 
And as a herring dead. 

Sure as a gun, she'll drop a tear 
And sigh perhaps and wish, 
When I am rotten as a pear, 
And mute as any fish. 



John Gay's Poems, Vol. II, p. 277. 



CHAPTER I 

SIMILES REFERRING TO MIND AND 
CHARACTER. 

Innocence and Good Character in General. 

You are innocent,/ A soul as white as heaven. Beaumont & 
Fletcher, Maid, 83. 

Can you doubt the honour of a lady who is as pure as heaven ? 
Thackeray, HE, 138. 

. . . that I might take her/ As spotless as an angel in my arms ! 
Hej'wood, T. WKK, 71.; as innocent as an angel of light. 
Richardson, P., 205, 1741. 

"She is as pure as an angel, " cried young Esmond. "Have 
I said a word against her?" shrieks out my lord. . . . Do 
you fancy I think that she would go astray.'* No, she hasn't 
passion enough for that. She neither sins nor forgives." 
Thackeray, HE, 152. 

I — that am innocent as the angels in heaven — was a 
thief: Baring-Gould, RS, 300, 1887. — 'Angel' has been an 
appellation of an innocent person at least from Skakespeare's 
times. Cf. "Us all knows the man do mean well us an angel." 
Phillpotts, AP, 244, 1904. 

. . . they will cast and condemn any clerk, though he were as 
innocent as Abel. P'itzjames, Letter to Wolsey, 15 14, Brooks 
Adams, CD, 198. "Abel" is sometimes used appellatively 
for an innocent person. See Ostberg, 70. 

I was as innocent as Moses in the bulrushes. Vachel, WJ, 66, 1908. 

They are as innocent as grace itself. Shak., AYL, I, iii, 50. 

Their virtues else — be they as pure as grace,/ As infinite 
as man may undergo — Shak., Hamlet, I, iv. 

As virtuous as holy truth. Beaumont & Fletcher, Valintinian, I, ii. 

Lalage is as correct in her morals as a bishop's wife. Shaw, IK, 
41, 1880. 

As innocent as the child newborn. Middleton, Fam. of Love, 1608, 
Lean, II, ii. 

As clear as the newborn infant. Marlowe, Lust's Dominion, 
1657, Green, Tu Quoque, 1614, Lean, II, ii. Cf. Shak., KR 
III, II, i, 69. 
Is she virtuous.^ — As the newborn babe. Richardson, P., 

332, 1741- 

As innocent as a child unborn. S. Wesley, Maggots, p. 2, 

1685, Lean. 



As innocent as the babe unborn. Lean, II, ii; Phillpotts, TK, 205. 
A gentleman born and bred, champion of the world, sober, 
honest, spotless as the unborn babe. Shaw, CBP, 291, 1885. 
As innocent as the sweetest babe in heaven. Hardy, RN, 
408, 1878. 

As innocent as a babe. Hardy, LLI, 291, 1894. — Cf. Alas, 
my bab, my innocent. Towneley Myst. c. 1460. NED. 
How was she, who was as innocent as a child, to know what 
was the meaning of the covert adresses of a villain.^ Thacke- 
ray, HE, 152. 

Th' old seal would lie there sleepin' innocent as a child. "Q", 
MV, 233, 1907. 

She was as pretty and fresh and pure-looking as a child. 
White, BT, 173. — 'Clear' meaning 'free from guilt, innocent' 
dates from c. 1400. 

lilting as good as gold in the gutter. Hood, 1845, NED. 

Sunning, after binding himself by a solemn promise not to 
jump about, was permitted to crawl into the bows, where he 
lay flat upon his stomach, as good as gold, the whole time. 
Norris, Jim, 137, 1886. 

"I'll give you my word; I'll be as good as gold," solemnly 
declared O'Hara. Castle, IB, 53, 1904. See also Doyle, Firm, 
190, 1890. 

An' my girl's good as gold, and thrifty as the Bible ant. 
Phillpotts, SW, 193, 1905. — Leave her alone, she's as good 
as gold. She can't help if the brother is a rascal. Baring- 
Gould, RS, 144, 1887. 

Oh, you'll like Radway, he's good as gold. White, BT, 378. 
"Would you like to know.?" — "Do you mean to say you'll 
tell me.?" he exclaimed. "If you do, I'll say you are as good 
as gold." Shaw, CBP, 159, 1885. See also ibm 218. Slang, 
Northall, FP. 

This sim. is not recorded in any collection of proverbs 
previous to Lean. By Slang it is explained 'very good, usually 
of children.' To judge from the above inst. this cannot be 
quite correct. When applied to a child it seems to refer to 
one that is obediently submissive and still. When used of 
grown up people it seems to denote good character or gene- 
rally pleasing qualities or great kindness, trustworthiness or 
faithfulness to a given promise. Northall, FP, explains, 'Well- 
behaved, of moral worth and behaviour.' 

.et her alone, and in five minutes the storm will be over, and 
she as good as pie again. Dow, Jun., Patent Sermons, i, 21, 
1847, Thornton; [A girl is occasionally said to be] as good 
as pie. Yale Lit. Mag. xxxi, 228, 1866, Thornton. Another 
inst. of 1878. This seems to be an exclusively American 
phrase. But cf. also 'as noist, as right as a pie,' Ch. IV. 



— 6 — 

Our kinsman Gloucester is as innocent . . . As is the sucking lamb 
or harmless dove. Shak., KH, VIb, III, i, 69. 
I am as innocent as the skipping lamb. 

So pure and innocent, as that same lamb,/ She was in life. 
Spenser, FQ, I, i, 5. Ere I be, inercent as a lamb. London, 
GF, 113. 'Lamb' as a symbol of innocence already in OF. 

He maketh as thoughe he were as holy as a horse, il pretent la 
saintete dung cheval. 1530, NED. Cf. 'horse-holy' used by 
Nashe. 

And she was symple as dowve on tree. Chaucer, RR, 12 19. 
As innocent as a dove. Howell, 1659, Lean, II, ii. 
You are as innocent as a dove. Richardson, P., 151, 1741. 
"The dove is an emblem of innocence and purity. Adopted 
by our Lord in the text 'Be ye wise as serpents and harm- 
less as doves.' From this, as well as from the fact of the 
Holy Spirit appearing in its form, it was considered the scrip- 
tural sign of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity . . . ." 
Swainson, BB, 170. VVyclif has 'Be §e war as serpentis and 
symple as dowues. Matt, x, 16. The Greek text has dxepaioi, 
which means 'unmixed, free from falsehood.' Cf. also 'Doves 
are accounted innocent and loving creatures,' Dekker, GH, 26. 

Oft" went Polly, innercent seemin'ly as a guse-chick. Som. Dev. EDD. 

Now by my maiden honour yet as pure/ As the unsullied lily, 
Shak., LLL, V, ii, 351. Cf. ... yet a virgin,/ A most un- 
spotted lily shall she pass/ To the ground, and all the world 
shall mourn her. Shak., KH VIII, V, v, 59. — The lily has 
been employed as the emblem of purity at least from the time 
of Chaucer. See NED. Lilies are also said to spring from 
the grave of one unjustly executed as a token of the person's 
innocence. Dyer, FP, 12. 

Heo haefde seofon sipum beorhtran saule |Donne snaw. Blickl. 
Horn. 971. 

Danne wur6 ic . . . hwittere thane ani snaw. c. 1200, Vices 
& Virtues, NED. ... it is chaste and pure as purest snow. 
Spenser, FQ, II, ii, 9. [said of the tears of a maiden changed 
to stone]. 

Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape 
calumny. Shak., Hamlet, III, i, 136. ... black Macbeth/ 
Will seem as pure as snow. Shak., Mb, IV, iii, 52. 
What if this cursed hand/ Were thicker than itself with bro- 
ther's blood/ Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens/ 
To wash it white as snow.'' Shak., Hamlet, III, iv. 
Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as 
snow. Kingsley, WH, 136. Cf. Isa. i, 18, Come now, and 
let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be 
as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be 
red like crimson, they shall be as wool. — Cf. also the following 
lines: — 



— 7 — 

'And Matcham, though a humble name, 
Was stainless as the feathery flake 
From heaven, whose virgin whiteness came 
Upon the newly frozen lake.' Barham, IL, 372, 1842. 
. . . her that I looked up to as angel of God, as pure as the light 

of day; Kingsley, WH, 258. 
As clear as that day thou wert born. Bale, King John, ante 1563. 
Lean, II, ii. Cf. As pure a maid as I was born. Day, Blind 
Beggar, 1659, Lean, II, ii. 
. . . my honour/ (Which I have kept as spotless as the moon) 
Heywood, T. WKK, 'j']. — To-day the moon would hardly 
be taken as an emblem of spotlessness, whatever may have 
been the case in Heywood's time. 
Matheo, thou didst first turn my soul black;/ Now make it white 
again. I do protest,/ I'm pure as fire now, chaste as Cyn- 
thia's breast. Dekker, HWh, la, xii. Cf. I'm damaged goods. 
And you're as clean as fire. Wells, AV, 300, 1909. 

When used of a woman some of the above sim. with 
'pure' refer to her chastity. 



Bad or Mean Character. 

, . . this old voman, that is wors than the black deuell of helle; 
Three, 49, c. 1 500. They are more foul than the black devil 
of hell. Barclay, Ship of Fools, ii, 269, 1509, Lean, II, ii. 
A diuell, worser then the worst in hell. Ford, LS, 163, 1633. 
... a sinne but he (the pander) was as absolute in as Sathan 
himselfe, Nashe, II, 260. Cf. also A more arranter devil is 
there not betwixt St. David's and London, Lodge, Wit's 
Misery, 1596, Lean II, ii. 

The absence of later inst. is noteworthy. 

Lady Anszv. Well, for my life, I cannot conceive what your lord- 
ship means. 

Lord Sparkish. Indeed, madam, I meant no harm. 
Lady Smart. No, to be sure, my lord ! You are as innocent 
as a devil of two years old. 

Neverout. Madam, they say, ill-doers are ill-deemers: but I 
don't apply it to your lordship. Swift, PC, 261. — This sim. 
is in Ray, Fuller, Hazlitt, and Lean, but nothing is said about 
it. Does it not mean that the innocence of Lord Sparkish is 
rather doubtful? A devil can hardly be said to be innocent, 
for in spite of his being only two years of age he must have 
learnt some of the wicked ways of "Old Nick". But observe 
also the playful connotation about such phrases as 'a young 
devil, you little devil.' 

, . . a soul/ Leaprous as sinne itself, then hel more foule. Dekker, 



— 8 — 

OF, 64. . . . that his soul may be as damned and black/ 
As hell, whereto it goes. Shak., Hamlet, III, iii, 94. 

As black as Hades. Not unfrequently used by educated people 
of a person's character. U. 

Ugly and black as sin. NED. Cf. As ugly as sin and not half 
as pleasant. Lean, II, ii. Universally used. U. — For other 
inst. of 'black as sin' see Ch. III. 

O bosom black as death. Shak., Hamlet, III, iii, 64. 

As wicked as Job's wife. Lean, II, ii. — This is Lean's way of 
quoting. It is taken from Shak., MW, V, v, where we read, 
Page. And poor as Job.' — Foi'd. And as wicked as his 
wife? — It is very improbable that it ever was used as a pro- 
verbial sim. 

Wicked as the witch of Wokey. Somers — Wokey Hole is a 
cavern in this county, supposed to have been the haunt of a 
witch, who was transformed into stone. Hazlitt. 
As sinful as a witch. Uenham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 84. 
As black as a witch. Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 84. 

— Witches are of two kinds, black and white. The former 
were looked upon as the more dangerous and devilish, ibid. 
For further notes on black, white, and grey witches see Hazlitt, 
DFF, 653. Cf also black and white magic. 

As bad as Jeffries. Wise, New Forest, p. 179, 1863. Lean, II, ii. 

— What is the application of this sim..? If Jeffries refers to 
any historical person, it is problably George Jeffreys, the cruel 
and unmerciful president of the commission for the western 
circuit during the "bloody assizes" in 1685. Hampshire and 
Somerset and the other S. W. counties had only too well- 
founded reasons to remember him. See Strand, April 19 16, 366. 

— There is in Grose, 1790, this obsolete Yorkshire expression 
'St. Jeffery's day' = Latter Lammas. 

To have a conscience as large as a shipman's hose. Jewel, Def. 
of Apol. 1567, Lean, II, ii. Clarke, Ray, Hazlitt. — Lean, 
II, ii, 846, has some further references to this and similar 
phrases. Cf. also 'Making the scripture a shipman's hose to 
cover their own malitious humours.' NED, 1625. 
He hath a conscience like a cheverel's skin, that will stretch. 
Hazlitt, 187. If they make their consciences stretch like chiuerel 
in the raine. 1589, NED. The nature of cheveril leather is, 
that if a man take it by the sides and pull it in breadth, he 
may make a little point as broad as both his hands; if he 
take it by the ends and pull it in length, he may make it as 
small as a thread. Curtis, 1576, NED. There is also a phrase 
'a cheverel conscience' rec. in NED from 1583 to 1662. — 
Cheverel was marked as obsolete already by Johnson. 
A traveller to Rome must have the backe of an Asse, the 
belly of a Hogge, and a conscience as broad as the Kings 
highway. Moryson, 1617, NED. 



. . . their conceited religion, craving mercy of neither God or 

the King for their offences, and making their consciences, as 

it were, as wide as the world. The Arraignement, 6. 

And the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart,/ In liberty 

of bloody hand shall range/ With conscience wide as hell, 

mowing like grass/ Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering 

infants. Shak., KH V, III, iii, ii. 
As full of honesty as a marrowbone is full of honey. VVever, An 

Enterlude called Lusty Juventus, n. d.. Lean, II, ii. — Cf. 

the numerous sim. 'as full of ... as an egg of . . .' Ch. XX. 
. . . thy love is as black as ebony. Shak., LLL, IV, iii, 243; see 

'black' Ch. III. 
Why say thy sinnes are blacker then ieat,/ Yet may contrition 

make them as white a snowe. Shak., Hamlet, III, iii, q. i. 

/as snowe?/. See 'black' Ch. XX. 
To have a conscience worse than any dog. Taylor (W. P.), A 

Thief, Lean, II, ii. 
As vile as a sow. Barclay, Eel. ii, ante 1530, Lean, II, ii. 
As mean as a rooster in a thunder shower. Dow. 1847. Thornton. 
Ez meean ez a cuckoo. — The cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds' 

nests. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. 
We are mean, that's wat's the matter with us, dukes and dustmen, 

the whole human species — as mean as caterpillars. Galsworthy. 

IP. 33, 1904. 
He was 'viler than dirt.' Barham, IL, 331. The expression is used 

by a girl of a man whom she had loved until she discovered 

that he had many loves elsewhere. — Mean as muck. n. Yks. 

Mean =1 'of bad character, worthless.' EDD. 
An ugly feend, more foul than dismall day, Spenser, FQ, II, vii, 

26. — On 'dismal days,' dies mali, dies atri, see NED. The 

expression seems to have become obsolete in the early 17th c. 
'Foul' meaning 'abominable, wicked' goes back to OE 

times. 'Black' has a similar sense from c. 1580. — Some of 

the sim. under 'black' Ch. Ill are perhaps also used of a 

morally worthless person and his actions. 



Honest, Faithful, Trustworthy. 

. . . now doth thy honour stand . . ./ As firm as faith. Shak,, 

MW, IV, iv. 
I am as true as truth's simplicity. Shak., TC. Ill, ii, 156. 
. . . was found as trewe as any bonde, Chaucer, Duch., 934. 
As true to one as the beggar to his dish. Melbancke, Philoti- 

mus, 1583. Cf. the phrase 'To know a thing as well as the 

beggar knows his dish.' This 'dish' was the beggar's receptacle 

for alms, the clap-dish or alms-dish. 



— 10 — 

I am as true, I wold thou knew, as skin betwene thy browes. 
Still, GGN, \\ ii, 121, 1575. Porter, Two Angry Women, 
1599, Lean, II, ii. 

An old man . . . honest as the skin between his brows. 
Shak., MA, III, v, 11. Cartwright, 1643, NKD. — Joe, generally 
speaking, was honest as the skin between his brows; Barham, 
II, 519, 1840. NED has no inst. after 1643 and marks it as 
obsolete. "A proverbial expression probably from the sup- 
position that the eyes and forehead are especially indicative 
of character." Foster, SVVB, 307. 

Thou shalt be as honesht as the skin between his hornsh. 
B. Jonson, 16 14, NED. 
Wilt thou be honest to me? — As your nails to your fingers, 

which I think never deceived you. Dekker, HWh. lb. 
As true as thy coat to thy back. Gascoigne, (ilass of Gov. iv, 

3, 1577. Lean. 
She aye sad and constant as a wal/ Continuynge euere hire Inno- 
cence oueral. Chaucer, CI. T. 991, Rom. of Rose, 5250. 
Thow schalt me fynde as just as is a squire; Chaucer, ST, 2090. 
The T-square, an emblem of honest impartiality. See Spenser, 
FQ, II, i, 58. 
. . w^hen their rhymes. Full of protest, of oath and big compare, 
Want similes, truth tired with iteration, 
'As true as steel, as plantage to the moon. 
As sun to day, as Turtle to her mate, 
As iron to adamant, as earth to the centre,' 
Yet after all comparisons of truth. 
As truth's authentic authour to be cited, 
'As true as Troilus' shall crown up the verse 
And sanctify the numbers. Shak., TC, III, ii, 166 fif. As 
true to thee as steel to adamant. Cooke, 1614, NED. 
Thais. You'll be constant .f* — Cla. Above the adamant: 
goat's blood shall not break me. Marston, Insatiate Countess, 
i, 1613. Lean, II, ii. 

In these sim. the adamant is identified with the load- 
stone or magnet, but is was also looked upon as its natural 
opposite, as appears in the following quotation: — "You 
draw me, you hard-hearted adamant,/ But yet you draw not 
Iron, for my heart/ Is true as steel." Shak., MND, II, i, 195. 
— Adamant and goat's blood. "The Adamant though it be 
so hard that nothing can bruise it, yet if the warme blood 
of a Goat be powred vpon it, it bursteth," Lyly, 1579, 
NED. This belief was frequently referred to by I'^lizabethan 
writers. 
As faithful as the needle to the pole. Cowan, PS, 139. 

True as the needle to the pole,/ Or as the dial to the sun. 
Barton Booth's Song, ante 1733, Cowan, PS, 139. 
As still to the star of its worship, though clouded 



— II — 

The needle points faithfully o'er the dim sea; Thomas Moore's 
Sacred Songs, N. & Q., Aug. 1852, 207. N. & Q. vol. 6 has 
some further inst. 

As true as a gun. Ben Jonson, Tale of a Tub, II, i, Lean, II. ii. 
Solly's the tug-captain, a mighty good fellow, true as a gun 
barrel. White, BT, 378. Cf. 'as right, as sure as a gun.' 

You have been as true to me as hilt to blade. Doyle, R, 161. 

As true steel as Ripon rowels. Fuller, 1661, NED. Drayton, 
Pol. ii., Ray, Hazlitt, Lean. 

As true steel as Rippon spurs. Fuller, Proverbs, 1732, 
Bohn, 322. 

"It is said of trusty persons, men of metal, faithful in 
their employments. Rippon, in this county [Yorkshire] is a 
town famous for the best spurs of England, whose rowels 
may be enforced to strike through a shilling, and will break 
sooner than bow." Ray. Ripon spurs had become pro- 
verbial in the early 17th c. 

She was as true as tempered steel. Hornung, TN, 27, 1905. 

But doutelees, as trewe as any steel/ I haue a wyf, though 
^at she poure be. Chaucer, 476/2426. Trew as Steele in 
ech condicioun, Chaucer, Troyl. V, 831. See also ibid. Leg. 
IX, 21, Pari, of F. 395, &c. I thought his policy as just 
and true as steel. Respublica, V, vi, 1553. How the Good 
Wife, Hazlitt, E. P. Poetry, i, 185, Lean, II, ii. I warrant 
thee, my man's as true as steel. Shak., RJ, II, iv, 187, ibid. 
MND, II, i 195. 

They reposed unbounded confidence in me, and believed 
that I was as true as steel. Dickens, NN, Ixi; Doyle, R, 186. 
Coggan had been true as steel all through the time. Hardy, 
FMC, 471, 1874. He ... is as true as steel in his love, 
Marchmont, CF, 184, 1905. 

For thogh so be that lovers be as trewe/ As any metal that is 
forged newe. Chaucer, C. of Mars, 200. Cf. 'the noble iforged 
newe'. See 'bright' Ch. III. 

As trusty and as true as stone. Chaucer, Romance of Rose, 5248. 
Though true as touch, though daughter of a king .... Is 
from her knight devorced in despayre. Spenser, FQ, I, iii, 2. 
— This is probably the touchstone, from the true or genuine 
qualities of the metal being tried by 'touch' or by the touch- 
stone. 

As true as flint was Jacob Armitage. Marryat, 1847, NED. Other 
kinds of stone seem to be used in a similar way: "Trust 
Honor as you'd trust granite." Baring-Gould, RS, 114, 1887. 

Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,/ As true as truest 
horse, that yet would never tire,/ I'll meet thee, Pyramus, 
at Ninny's tomb. Shak., MND, III, i, 92. Cf. 'To work 
like a horse.' 

I've followed you, and been true to you as a dog. Baring-Gould, 



— 12 — 

RS, 301, I've served your honour these fifteen years faithful 
as a dog. Ibid. 295. Cf. the Sw. 'trogen som en hund.' The 
'dog' is found in a great variety of sim. 

Women be trevve as tirtyll on tree. Songs, 112. See Willert, AF. 
And of faire Britomart ensample take/ That was as true in 
love as Turtle to her make, Spenser, FQ, III, xi, 2. See 
also ibid. VI, viii, 33. Shak., TC, III, ii, 166. As true as 
a turtle to her mate. Ray, Hazlitt, &c. The turtle-dove is 
often mentioned as a type of conjugal affection and con- 
stancy. NED. 

She now holds in wedlock, as true as a dove,/ The fondest of 
mates, Horace Smith. Verses on Surnames, N. & 0., 11, 
viii, 72. 

As true as plantage to the moon. Townl. Myst, 23, Lean II, ii. 
See also Shak., TC, III, ii, 166. 'Plantage' is anything 
planted, vegetation, according to NED. Prior, On the Popular 
Names of British Plants &c. p. 184, thinks that the A'loon- 
wort [Bot}-ychium Lunaria, L.) is here intended. Britten & 
Holland, EPN, 384. But it is immaterial whether a special 
plant or plants in general are alluded to. The sim. refers 
to an old idea formerly more widely current than now, viz. 
of the moon's influence on the vegetable world. The fol- 
lowing lines are of interest, "the poor husbandman perceiveth 
that the increase of the moon maketh plants fruitful, so as 
in the full moone they are in best strength, decaying in the 
wane, and in the conjunction do entirely wither and fade." 
Scott, Discoverie of Witchcraft. See further. Dyer, I"LP, 
114 ff., Hulme, NH, and Hazlitt, DFF, 416. 

. . . a soul truthful and clear as heaven's light. Hardy, PBE, 
320, 1873. 

He's a good chap, honest as daylight, Baring-Gould, BS, 
283, 1896. 

Matabel is as honest and true as sunlight. Baring-Gould, 
BS, 243. 

Open as the morning sun, an' as honest. His face is enough. 
Phillpotts, P., 54, 1906. 

He seemed a solid, somewhat stupid fellow, but as honest as 
the day and very obliging. Hope, RH, 11. 1898. 
They know perfectly well that a man may be as honest as 
the day . . . and not believe in what they teach. Wells, LL, 
214, 1900. 

She was as simple-hearted and honest as the day was long. Twain, 
TS. 99, 1876. 

But I am constant as the northern star,/ Of whose true-fix'd and 
resting quality/ There is no fellow in the firmament. Shak., 
JS, III, i 60. 
As steadfast as the polestar. Phillpotts, S\Y. 



— I 



Open, Straightforward. 

There is that good-hearted man — open as a child. Hardy, UGT, 
22. His disposition is a open as a child's. Shaw, CBP, 290. 

As open as the midday. Davenport, A New Trick to Cheat the 
Devil, iv, 2, 1639, Lean, II, ii. 

Stark was wont to be open as daylight. Phillpotts, AP, 297. 
Square-built and broad-shouldered, good-humoured and gay,/ 
With his collar and countenance open as day. Barham, IL, 368. 
Cf. He hath a tear for pity, and a hand/ Open as day for 
melting charity. Shak., KH IVb, IV, iv, 32. 



Chaste. 

As chaste as was Saynt John. Barclay, Ship of Fools, i, 113, 

1509, Lean, II, ii. 
If I live to be as olde as Sibilla, I will dye as chaste as Diana. 

Shak., MV, I, ii, 95. Cf ibid. AYL, III, iv, 14, He hath 

bought a pair of cast lips of Diana: a nun of winter's sis- 
terhood kisses not more religiously; the very ice of chastity 

is in them. 

. . . she as solemn as Minerva — she as chaste as Diana. 

Thackeray. BS, vi. The goddess of the 'cold fruitless' moon 

is also the patroness of virginity. 
As chaste as Penelope. Barclay, Eel., ante 1530, Lean, il, ii. 

Marlowe, Faustus, 40. And I as constant as Penelope. 

1606, NED. — Well-known is the history of Penelope, who 

for twenty years rejected the proposals of the suitors. 
. . . she was . . . honest-hearted . . . graceful to a degree, chaste 

as a vestal. Hardy, T, 213, 1889. A woman of spotless 

chastity is sometimes called a vestal. 
As chaste as a veiled nun. Bishop Hall, Sat. IV, iii, I599' 
And as chaste as a childe pat in cherche wepeth, Langland, 

PPl, I, 178. 
John Darby of Bartholomew Close, who died 1730, and his wife 

Joan, "As chaste as a picture cut in alabaster. You might 

sooner move a Scythian rock than shoot fire into her bosom." 

Brewer, DPF, 331. 
Chaste to her lorde, both day and night,/ Chaste as is the turtyll 

upon the tre. The Knight of Curtesy &c., Hazlitt, E.P. 

Poetry, ii, 6y, Lean, II, ii. Cf 'as true as a turtle.' 
As chaste as the rose. Rowley, All's Lost, iv, 1383, Lean, II, ii. 
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,/ As chaste as is the bud 

ere it be blown. Shak., MA, IV, i, 56. 



— 14 — 

As chaste a; morning dew. Young, Night Thoughts, 1743, Lean, 

II, ii. 
I thought her As chaste as unsunn'd snow. Shak., Cy., II, iv, 13. 

/-As cliaste as untrodden snow. Lean, II, ii. 
Be ^hou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape 

calumny. Shak., Hamlet, III, i, 136. Cf. The noble sister 

of Publicola,/ The moon of Rome; chaste as the icicle/ That's 

curdied by the frost from purest snow/ And hangs on Dian's 

temple. Shak., Cor. V., iii, 64. 
Annabel, than May's first morn more bright,/ Cheerful as summer's 

noon, and chaste as winter's night. Recommend. Verses, 

Uryden, IX, 215. 



Lecherous, Lewd, Common. 

Though squeamish in her outward woman/ As loose and rampant 
as Dol Common. Butler, Hud. II, 117. — Doll Common 
was the young woman in league with Subtle the Alchemist 
in Ben Johson's play, and Doll is a name given generically 
to a female pet, a mistress. NED. — Loose has had the 
connotation of 'lecherous' from the end of the 15th c. Ram- 
pant with the sense of 'lustful, vicious' from c. 1680 to 
1812. NED. 

. . . t'is a willing soul, I'll warrant him, eager upon the quarry, 
and as sharp as any governour of Covent Garden. Dryden, 
Limb., VI, 52. 

Although strictly speaking no proverbial sim., this phrase 
deserves to be chronicled as it helps to illustrate London life 
in bygone centuries. Covent Garden has not always been 
London's great fruit and flower market. In the early part 
of the 1 8th cent, it was a favourite football ground for the 
prentices, and to judge from Dryden and other writers of the 
17th and 1 8th cc. it seems to have been somewhat of a disrepu- 
table neighbourhood. It must, in fact, have teemed with 
brothels. The Covent Garden governours were no doubt of 
the same profession as the 'Covent Garden Abbesses', and 
the Covent Garden 'nuns' were their quarry. See Slang. — 
The "Town-miss" lives 'in noble rooms, richly furnished about 
C. G.' Town-Miss p. 3. 

My wife . . . deserves a name/ As rank as any flax-wcnch, that 
puts to/ Before her troth-plight. Shak., WT, I, ii, 277. — 
Rank meaning 'lustful, licentious' rec. in NI'^D c. 1520 — 1765. 
Slang gives 'flax-wench' as a name for a prostitute from 1604. 

As common as a whore. Lean, II. ii. 

As good a maid as her mother. 1659, Lean, II, ii. In the na- 
ture of things, a mother cannot be a 'maid'. Cf. the saying 



— 15 - 

'As good a maid as Fletcher's mare, that bore three great 
foals.' 1552, Hazlitt. 

As common as a woman or her synonomy. Hausted, Rival Friends, 
1632, Lean, II, ii. 

. . . your friendship as common as a prostitute's favours. Gold- 
smith, GNM, 197. 

Shee is as common as Rubarbe among Phisitions. Nashe, III, 
121, 1596. Cf. The phisicions with a lyttel Rubarb purge 
many humours of the body. 1533, NED. Rhubarb does not 
appear to have been cultivated in England before the i8th c, 
although it was known much earlier. 

As common as tobacco (of a woman). — This is how Lean 
quotes from Dekker, HWh lb. The actual text reads: — 'I 
know not of what cut her die is now, but she has been 
more common than tobacco: this is she that had the name of 
the Honest Whore.' — Tobacco seems to have been intro- 
duced about 1580. 

As common as a barber's chair. Gosson, School of Abuse, 1579. 
Lean, II, ii. 

A notorious strumpet as common as a barber's chair. Burton, 
Anatomy of Melancholy, III, iv, Clarke. Rec. in Slang to 
1708. Cf. 'that's a bountiful answer that fits all questions. — 
It is like a barber's chair, that fits all buttocks, the pin- 
buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any but- 
tock.' Shak., AW, II, ii, 13. A barber's chair is also one 
of the numerous appellations for a prostitute, because a bar- 
ber's chair is common to all comers. 

As common as the barber's cittern for every serving man to play 
upon. Dekker, HWh lb. That cursed barber! I have mar- 
ried his cittern that's common to all men. B. Jonson, Silent 
Woman, III, v. Lean, II, ii. Citterns were mostly found in 
barbers' shops for the use of customers. See Skeat & May- 
hew, TSG, ']6, and NED. The cittern, the musical instru- 
ment, is known from 1566. 

Ez common ez the deear-sneck. — Any one handles it. It implies 
that a sneck is liable to be pressed or used by any one; the 
sim. is of opprobrious nature. Blakeborough, NRY, 243. 
Sneck is a chiefly northern word for an iron, or sometimes 
wooden, latch. See EDD. 

As common as any tavern-door. Sharpham, Fleire, 1607, Lean, 
II, ii. Those who entered a tavern were likely to meet 'The 
Oysterwench in her lawful Occupation at the Tavern-door.' 
T. Brown, 1704. NED. 

Slaver with lips as common as the stairs/ That mount the Capitol. 
Shak., Cy., I, vi, 104. 

As common as the town sewer. Lean, II, ii. A 'common sewer' 
is a slang phrase for a prostitute. 

As common as Coleman hedge. Withals, 1616, Clarke, 163 1. 



— i6 — 

Hazlitt, Lean. 'The old proverbial simile "as common as 
Coleman Hedge", now Coleman street.' Steevens in bis note 
to Shak., TC, V, x, 55. McKerrow, Notes 480. A. Golding 
in his translation of Calvin on Deut., sermon xii, has, (in 
reference to Tamar) "Juda thinking /her/ a harlot as common 
as Colman-hedge." J. A. H. Murray, X. & Q., 7, ix, 387. 

'The phrase /Coleman hedge/ is of very frequent oc- 
currence in the i6th cent., but none of the quotations known 
to me throws any light on its origin. Perhaps it was a piece 
of low slang, which had been in oral use long before it ap- 
peared in print, or perhaps the allusion was too well known to 
need any comment.' Murray, ibid. 'Wherever this was, it 
is evident that it was a resort of prostitutes.' Mc Kerrow, 1. c. 
Several attempts at localizing this 'street' have been made. 
London has now several Coleman streets, and formerly there 
must have been still more. Rest known is perhaps the one 
that runs from Old Jewry and Lothbury to London Wall. 
It is now a very commonplace business street, but it has 
witnessed historical events of some importance, Venner's In- 
surrection being one of them. We read of the 'credulous, 
soul-murdered proselytes of Coleman Street.' (Vicars in his 
attack on John Goodwin), and Dryden, in his Epilogue to the 
Assignation, 1672, speaks of "The zealous rout from Coleman 
street." From these and numerous other allusions it appears 
that this Coleman street was a haunt of Puritans. Conse- 
quently, it can scarcely have anything to do with with our 
sim. There is a Coleman Street in Islington, and there used 
to be one about a mile N.W. of Liverpool Str. St., but 
nothing of interest for our purpose seems to be known about 
them. 'Colmans Hedge is mentioned in the deed of surrender 
of the property of St. Giles Hospital to Henry VIII . . . 
June 2, 1537., where among other lands, is named "five acres 
of pastures in a certain close there near Colmans Hedge ..." 
In another deed it is mentioned as "the lane called Col- 
mannes hegg." This lane must have been nearly on the site 
of West Street, Seven Dials.' J. Tucket, N. & Q. 7, ix, 454. 
But as this land was hardly built upon at all until after 1600, 
as the same writer tells us, it cannot very well have been 
known as a resort of prostitutes before that time, l^ut in 
Howell's Londinop., 58, 1657, we read of "A great Hawyard, 
or garden, of old time called Coleman Haw. " NED. It 
appears that this Coleman Haw (.^hedge or street) was situ- 
ated in Aldgate Ward. The neighbourhood is described by 
Stowe and subsequent writers in very unfavourable terms, as 
a resort of "gamesters" and other undesirables, and as late 
as 18 1 7 it is referred to as a "mean and low spot" N. & 
Q., 7, ix, 454. This is probably the Coleman Hedge men- 
tioned in Cocke Lorelles Bote (c. i 500), where we read (Percy 



— 17 — 

Soc. p. 13) "Of Colman hedge a sight they had/ That made 
his company very glad,/ For there they thought all to play/ 
Bytween tyborne and chelsay." J. A. Murray, 1. c. This, if 
any, would be our Coleman Hedge. 

But on the other hand there are things that speak against 
it. The writer of the Prognostication, Nashe III, 392, has 
"the wormes of Saint Pancredge Church build their bowers 
under the shadow of Coleman hedge." And Gabriel Harvey, 
in Pierce's Supererogation, 1593, p. 59, says, "He still pro- 
ceedeth from worse to worse, from the wilding tree to the withie, 
from the doggc to the grote, from the catle to the swine, from 
Primrose Hill to Colman Hedge." Thus it would seem to be 
connected both with St. Pancras Church and Primrose Hill. 
(McKerrow 1. c). But it must be observed that there is 
nothing to compell us to draw the conclusion that this 'connec- 
tion' actually means proximity of situation. What does Saint Pan- 
credge (church) really stand for, and what are the "wormes"? 
We know the Pancridge parson, who is scarcely more respect- 
able than any hedgeparson, and in 'A Tale of a Tub' Ben 
Jonson speaks of "a Pancridge P2arl", which means 'an Earl 
of show' (Lean), and 'an old Pancridge' is simply a term of 
contempt (see Halliwell and Lean). Consequently "the wormes 
of Saint Pancredge (church)" would mean 'the hedge lady-birds' 
(of a certain district), and what he wants to say is perhaps 
simply that they are, in character and nature, not very far 
from "everie rag and colman hedge" (North's Translation of 
Plutarch ed. 1676, p. 43). 'The phrase "to go from Primrose 
Hill to Colman hedge" in the sense of to go from bad to 
worse, was a favourite one with Harvey.' J. A. H. Murray, 
1. c. This justifies the inference that the phrase is used in a 
transferred sense rather than meaning any fixed or given loca- 
lity. — Of Primrose Hill nothing appears to be known to 
justify its being taken as a type of something bad. 

Nothing, in short, makes it necessary to suppose that the 
Coleman hedge of the sim. is to be identified with any special 
Coleman Street, or Hedge, or Haw in the City of London in 
the 1 6th century. On the contrary, its connection with other 
localities in a more or less figurative use and its frequent 
occurrence as an appellation for a prostitute make it probable 
that, whatever may once have been the case, it simply stood 
for something degraded and immoral. 

There is further to be noticed the fact that the standard 
form of the sim. is 'as common as Coleman hedge . Unless 
Steevens has found some inst. of the form introduced by him, 
we are free to suppose that 'as common as Coleman Streef 
is nothing but a literary 'improvement'. 'Hedge' is the starting 
point, and it would seem to be the simplest way to explain 
the phrase as a development of the sim. 'as common as a 



— i8 — 

hedge' (see below), 'Coleman' being one of the many addi- 
tions introduced in sim. for the sake of alliteration, assonance^ 
and rythm. There is e. g., 'as deaf as a doorpost', beside the 
more common 'as deaf as a post', 'as deaf as a doornail' be- 
side 'as deaf as a nail'. In these sim. 'door' is added only for 
the sake of alliteration. There is in S\v. something of a parallel 
in the sim. 'klart som solen i Karlstad' (clear as the sun at 
Karlstad). There is no reason why the sun should be more 
clear at K. than anywhere else, 'i Karlstad' was added to 
give the phrase a humorous touch and to render it more for- 
cible by the aid of alliteration. In the same way the 'Coleman 
hedge' of our sim. is substituted for the colourless 'hedge' in 
order to make the phrase more expressive. The 17th cent, 
pronunciation of the word Coleman makes this only the more 
probable. Daines, in his Orthoephia Anglicana of 1640, says 
"in olm I is omitted, as Colnies quasi Comes, and so Colman, 
as Coman\ (See Jespersen, A Modern English Grammar, I) 
Consequently the words 'common' and Coleman' were pro- 
nounced in very nearly the same way, which must have given the 
h^lizabethans, who were very fond of plays on words — and 
very simple and innocent they often seem to us — an oppor- 
tunity of giving vent to their punning propensities. 

There is still to be considered the question how Coleman 
Hedge acquired the appellative sense it has in 'everie rag and 
colman hedge.' If we suppose that the phrase originally 
referred to some locality, e. g. Coleman Haw {} hedge) in 
Aldgate, we must believe that the name is used for those who 
frequented the place. But this use is not very often met with. 
'Dials' may stand for the thieves hailing from Seven Dials, 
and cf Pancredge above, but we do not speak of a 'Grub 
Street' for a hackney writer, a 'Fleet Street' for a hedge jour- 
nalist, a 'Newgate' for an inmate of that Prison, or 'Durham 
Alsatia' when we mean a knock-kneed resident of Alsatia. 
Also in this case it is easier to start from the simplex 'hedge'. 
The extensive pejorative use of this word makes it probable 
that it may also have been employed as a term of abuse. An 
angry woman may have hurled at an other the words 'ye 
hedge . . .!' which practically meant 'hedgewhore'. In the course 
of time 'Coleman' was added as some sort of pun on the 
adjective 'common'. 

As common as the hedge. Slang, fr. 1690. B.P^, N.D. Canting 
Crew, 1725, Lean, II, ii. 

This Doll Tearsheet should be some road. — I warrant you, as 
common as the way between St. Albans and London. Shak., 
KH IVb, III, ii, 153. This \s on\y s. cz.se. oi species pro genere. 
As common as the highway. Clarke, Ray, Lean, Slang. Cf. 
The hyghc waye ys large and commune to all; ante 153O) NED. 
Heo is As commuyne as a Cartwei to knaues and to alle. Lang- 



— 19 — 

land, P. PI. Dives and Pauper, 65, 1535, Lean, II, ii. Albeit the 
wife were as common as the Cartwaie. Swinburn, 1599, NP2D. 

As chaste as dogge at bytche-watche. Horman, Vulgaria, 6'j , 15 19, 
Lean, II, ii. In all languages and times the dog, and especially 
the female, the bitch, is regarded as a type of lewdness. Cf. 
Chaude comme une chienne. Joubert, Erreurs Populaires, I, 
ii, II, Lean, II, ii. In English 'bitch' has been applied oppro- 
briously to a lewd and sensual woman from c. 1400. "Call 
her Prostitute, Bawd, dirty Bitch." Wolcott, 1790, NED. It 
is not found now in literature, as it belongs to a department 
of life that is outside the pale of books and print. This applies 
to most of the sim. under this head, if not all. 

Lawless as a townbull. Ray, P'uUer, Hazlitt, Lean. — A townbuU 
was a bull kept in turn by all the cow-keepers of a village, 
NED, hence fig. of a man; "a common whoremaster, one that 
rides all the women he meets". 

As lecherous as a he-goat. Ray, Lean. Cotgrave, 1611, NED. 
He is as hot in love as goats. T. Adams, 1580, Lean, II, ii, 
842. Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, /As 
salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross/ As ignorance 
made drunk. Shak., 0th., Ill, iii, 406. — From time immemorial 
the goat has been associated with lechery. Cf. Lyons be 
pride, P'oxes be fraude, Gete be stynke of lechery, c. 1440, 
NED. Thou art in thy religion an Atheist, in thy dyet an 
Epicure, in thy lust a Goat, in thy sleep a Hogge. Ford, 
LM, 13. — 'Prime' meaning 'sexually excited' has only this 
inst. in NED. 

One of your lazie, liquerous, lascivious, femenine ingenderers; more 
wavering than a wethercocke, more wanton than an ape, 
more wicked than an infidel, the very sink of sensuality. 
MM. 22, 1 60 1. 

A' was the very genius of famine; yet lecherous as a monkey, 
and the whores called him mandrake: Shak., KH IVb, III, ii, 294. 
As hot as monkeys. Shak., 0th., Ill, iii, 406. Cf. also More 
giddy in my desires than a monkey. Shak., AYL, IV, i, 154. 

As lecherous as a she-wolf. Clarke, Lean, II, ii. Cf As salt as 
wolves. Shak., 0th., Ill, iii, 406, see above. 'Salt' meaning 
'in heat', 'lecherous' rec. fr. 1541 to 1683, and was frequent 
in Shak. 'Pride' = 'heat' i486 — 1604. 

As lecherous as a she-ferret. Beaumont & Pletcher, Pilgrim, III, 
vi. Lean, II, ii. Cf. They /otters/ goe sault at suche times 
as firrets goe sault. Googe, 1577. NED. 

As hoot he was, and lecherous as is a sparwe. Chaucer, Prol. C.T, 
1386. Cf. The sparwe, Venus sone. Chaucer, Pari, of F, 351. 

Bright as the day and as the morning fair. 

Such Chloe is and common as the air. 
And make mine honour but a barber's chair. Prior. 
Lean, II, ii. 



20 



For other sim. that refer, or possibly may refer, to the 
same thing, see Sympathy, Love Ch. IV, Hot Ch. III. For 
sim. with 'common' = 'frequent' see Ch. IV. 



False, Fickle. 

As false as God is true. Heywood, Lean, II, ii. 

All ye three can lie as well /As can the falsest devil in hell. Hey- 
wood, Four P's. Dodsley, I, lOO. Cf. pe Iyer is ylich j^e 
dyeule J)et is his uader. 1340, NED. See St. John, viii, 44; 
Tim. I, iii, 2; Titus, ii, 3. Cf. His tongue is as cloven as 
the devil's feet. Hazlitt. — The Samoreen . . . black as the 
devil, and as treacherous. Sir T. Herbert, 1638, NED. On 
the devil's cloven foot, see Hazlitt, DFF, 176. 

False — false he be — false as the first snake. Phillpotts, SW, 
98, 1905. This is probably the 'old serpent', 'more subtil than 
any beast of the field', that tempted Eve (Gen. iii, i — 5). 
The snake, or serpent, has since early times been the symbol 
of treachery. 

Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell. Shak., 0th., IV, 
ii, 40. False as hell, and cruel as the grave. South, 1676, NED. 
But false as hell, she, like the wind,/ Changed, as her sex 
must do; Gay, NS. It is also used of statements etc. He 
found all to be false as hell. Earl of Arran, 1678; Ld Ellen- 
borough, 18 1 3, NED. Cf. also the following quotations: There's 
more deceit in women than in hell. Dekker, HWh, la, ix; 
Thou art a villain, a malicious devil,/ Deep as the place where 
thou art lost, thou lyest. Dekker, HVVh lb. 

Benjy Pennyways were not a true man or an honest baily — as 
big a betrayer as Joey Iscariot himself. Hardy, FMC, 118. 
— Judas is the arch-betrayer, and from the time of Caxton 
the name is used as an appellative for a false and traitorous 
person. See NED and Ostberg. 

Every word this abominable prie.st has uttered is as false as the 
Alcoran. Dryden SF', VI, 517. 

He told a falsehood as black as Styx, as easily as he paid a 
compliment or spoke about the weather. Thackeray, Hl^, 233. 
See Black Ch. III. 

He was moderately truthful towards men, but to women lied like 
a Cretan. Hardy, FMC, 193. — From time immemorial Cretan 
lying has been proverbial. Cf. .... hee (the devil) proues a 
damb'd lying Cretan. Dekker, Ed. Grosart, II, 90. If you 
ask me Qnare /why I have dissembled/ I answer, Quia pru- 
dcniis est miiltum dissimiilare. /To speak more playner, as 
the proverb does go, .... cum Cretense crctiso. Damon and 
Pithias, Dodsley, I, 284. Cretians are alway liars. Titus, i, 12. 



— 21 — 

Kpr^Tec 'ael i|)euc3Tai. . .; the hexameters opening with tliese 
words occur in Epimenides, and the quoted part in a hymn 
to Zeus by Callimachos, which seems to point out that the 
words must have become proverbial by the time of Callimachos. 
(N. & Q.). 

As false as Waghorn, and he was nineteen times fauser than the deil. 
Kelly, Scotish Proverbs, 1721. — Waghorn, a fabulous person- 
age, who being a liar nineteen times (or, according to others, 
four and twenty times) greater than the devil, was crowned king 
of liars. Hence extravagant liars are said to be as ill as 
Waghorn, or waiir than Waghorn. Aberdeen. This fanciful 
denomination may have been formed from this gentleman having 
a hor7i on his head, which he wagged. Jamieson. 

As big a liar as Tom Payne (or Pepper), and he got kicked out 
of hell for telling lies. Devon. N. & Q., VIII, ii, 368, Dialect 
of Leeds, 1862, 405. "The devil is said to have given up 
Tom in despair." Hazlitt. Cf. He's about as mean as the 
make 'em. The only reason he didn't die long ago is becuz 
the devil thought him too mean to pay any 'tention to. White, 
BT, 80. — Strange to say, Tom Paine is a Yorkshire ex- 
pression for the oak. EDD. 

(But if you want a thorough-paced liar, that will swear through thick 
and thin, commend me to a friar. Dryden, SF, VI, 517. 
Though all holy friars/ Were very great liars/ And raised 
stories faster than Grissel and Peto. Barham, IL, 500. Amyas 
shook his head and said that friars were liars. Kingsley, WH, 
201. This was the idea of friars already in Chaucer's time. 
See Meiklejohn, London, p. ']']?] 

. . . haue the art of dissembling at his fingers' ends as perfect as 
any Courtier. Nashe, II, 220, 1593. To lie like a courtier. 
Swift, Poem on W. Hood, Lean, II, ii. False as the cringing 
Courtier's plighted word. Gay, 1720. NED. 

There's more deceit in him than in 16 potecaries. Dekker, HWh, lb. 
The apothecaries of the olden times seem to have been held 
in contempt. To talk like an apothecary was to talk nonsense, 
and Apothecaries'-Latin and dog-Latin were equivalents. See 
Slang. 

To lie like a lawyer. Lean, II, ii. He'll lie like to your Switzer 
or lawyer; he'll be on any side for most money. Webster, 
Malcontent, i, i, 1604, Lean, II, ii. — Cf. the following quo- 
tations: — One may as soon find honesty in a Lawyer's house, 
as the least cause of mirth in the world. SC, 2. 1641. — 
Lawyers are not respected, neither are they accounted Honest, 
because they sell their lines dearer than the Apothecaries Physics, 
which I confess is dear enough, yet nothing comparable to the 
price of their lines, which gape wider than an Oyster-wife's 
mouth, and straddle wider than a P'rench-man's legs. Pie, fie! 
Lawyers are accounted knaves all over the country. CC, 5, 



1 64 1. See also Taylor, K\V, 18. In N. & Q., i, xii, 44, 
there is an old poem on the lawyer. He is represented as 
standing outside the gates of Heaven. St. Peter is extremely 
unwilling to admit him, but our lawyer outwits him, and gets 
himself inside by cheating. Cf. the proverb 'by degrees as 
lawyers go to heaven'. Northall, FP, 11. 

A friend of his, 'eques fortissimus', i. e. one who lied like a trooper, 
Badham, 1854. NED. See Swearing. 

As true as a tinker. Ap. and Virg. Hazlitt, Old Plays, iv, 118. 
The tinker has a very black book indeed. See e. g. Drunk. 

To lie like a thief. Day, Blind Begger of Bethnal Green, IV, 1659. 
Lean. 

To lie like a whore. Nice Wanton, Hazlitt, Old Plays, ii, 173. 
Lean, II, ii, 1560. — To lie at command like a strumpet. 
Davies, Civil Wars of Death and Fortune, 1609, Lean, II, ii. 

As false as a Scot. Ray. "I hope that nation generally deserves 
not such an imputation; and could wish that we Englishmen 
were less partial to ourselves, and censorious of our neighbours." 
Ray. But in spite of Ray English people tvotdd look upon the 
Scots as false, and must have done so from the time of the 
earliest border wars. Some quotations may illustrate the case. 
P'alse Scots are ye. Skelton, D. of Albany, p. 26, Lean, II, ii. 
I am a Scotyshe man, and have dissemblyd muche. Boorde, 
Introduction, 135, and a couple of pages further on he says, 
"... but of all nacyons they will face, crake, and booste 
themselfe, theyr frendes, and theyr contrey, aboue reason; for 
many will make strong lyes." And elsewhere the same writer ' 
gives this piece of advice. Shortly to conclude, trust yow no 
Skott, for they will yowse flatteryng wordes, and all is falshode. 
1536, NED. It is said that a Scot will prove false to his 
father and dissemble with his brother. Taylor, Christmas In j 
and Out, 1652, Lean. On the other hand T. Campbell, who ' 
was a Scotsman born and bred, wrote, "The Scots are stead- 
fast — not their clime". Pilgrim of Glencoe, ii, 1842. 

You are as changeful as a girl. Baring-Gould, BS, 122, 1896. 

Such an act /That . . . makes marriage-vows/ As false as dicers' 
oaths. Shak., Llamlet, III, iv, 45. 

That's a word as full o' holes as a sieve with them. Hardy, FMC, 
Cf. Such thinges . . . To thee be as sure as water in a siue. 
Barclay, 151 5, NP2D. 

No taffety more changeable than they. Taylor, KW. 14. Cf. . . . j 
thy doublet of changeable taffeta. Shak., TN, II, iv, 74. Rid- * 
dling oracles . . . like changeable taffata (wherein the woofe and 
warfe are of different colours), seems of several hues, as the 
looker on takes his station. Fuller, 1650. NED. 

Ez mean ez bo'd-lahm. Blakeborough, NRY, 241; "it deceives 
those who rest upon it; in daily use". 

(To lie like a rope upreert. Exmoor Scolding, 150. I. e. as fast 



— 23 — 

as a horse would gallop. — This is another instance of Lean's 
way of quoting. The original has, "tha wut lee a rope up- 
reert." And the editor explains, 'To lie a rope up-right con- 
tains a pun on the word lie, and means the telling of such 
a lie as is a contradiction in itself; or what is as impos- 
sible to be true as for a rope which lies on the ground to 
stand upright at the same time.' See Exmore Courtship, p. 
25. Does it not simply mean, 'He lies so fearfully that he 
can make a rope that lies on the ground stand on end'.?) 

He lies like a gas-meter. I. e. prodigeously. COD. 

A stormy peple, vnsad and euere vntrewe. 

Ay vndiscreet and chaungynge as a vane, 
Delityinge euere in rumbul that is newe, 
for lyk the moone, ay wexe ye and wane. Chaucer, 
434/995. Cf. But as a wedercock, that turn'th his face/ With 
every wind, ye fare; Chaucer, Skeat, EEP, 61. I am as very 
a turncoat as the weathercock of Paul's. Marriage between 
Wit and Wisdom, 1579, Shak. Soc. repr. 24, Lean IV. More 
wavering than a weathercock. MM, 2, 1601. See Lecherous. 

Ez waffiy as a mill-sail. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. Waffly here 
implies 'unstable'; the mill-sail is turned about by every wind 
which blows. Ibid. 244. Cf. She was as waffel's ony clout. 
Donald, 1867, EDD. A windy, waffling soort o' chap wheea 
nivver kens his ain mind. Yks., EDD. 

As false as Newgate. Very false, Shr. EDD. The name of the 
old City prison is found in several phrases connected with 
sharping and thieving and jail-birds in general. See Slang. 

Bishops will lye like dogs. 1588, NED. . . . but you'll lie, like dogs, 
and yet say nothing neither. Shak., Tempest, III, ii, 18. 
The five properties of a host (or tavern keeper): The head 
of a stag, the back of a nag. The belly of a hog. To fawn 
and lie like a dog, To skip up and down like a frog. P. Rob. 
Ap. 1696. Lean, IV. 

To lie as fast as a dog can lick a dish. Ray, Hazlitt. 
She will lie as fast as dogs will lick a dish. She is, of truth, 
as false as god is true. Heywood, PE, 78. To lie as fast 
as a dog wall lick a dish. Ferguson, Scotish Proverbs, 1641, 
Lean, II, ii. 

. . . hearken to him.' He will tell lies as fast as a dog will 
eat white pot. W. Som. Gloss. 246. 

He lies as fast as a dog can trot. Palsgrave, 1530. Slang. 
Old C. held forth with a long speech lying as fast as a dog 
would trot. Hawker, Diary, II, 236, 1843. 

From the very earliest times, the dog figures as the type 
of all that is vile and low in a great many proverbial phrases, 
in English and other languages. The most comprehensive of 
these proverbs is the old Sw. 'Werlden ar en hynda' (the 
world is a bitch), which Grubb, Ordseder, 758, gives as an 



— 24 — 

equivalent of the Latin Mundtis in vialigno positus, and the 
German Die Welt badet in Liigen. — The following lines may- 
be quoted as an attempt at tracing the origin of this idea 
among the Germanic peoples. "De Hond (which met Odin 
on his going down to Niffelheim) was de Germaansche Helhond, 
welke benaming later an den Duivel werd gegeven. Zo kan 
het begrip ontstaan zijn, dat de Hond met de booze in verband 
staat. Hij heet valsch en loensch te zijn, is een verachtelijk 
dier . . . Sloet, Dieren, 31. See further Drunk, Ch. II. 

He . . . woulde lye as fast as a horse woulde trotte. Skelton, 1529. 
He lies as fast as a horse can trot. Haz. 1566, NED. 
To lie as fast as a horse would gallop. See above 'To lie a 
rope uprcert'. 

As much honesty as had my mother's great hoggish sow. Wilson, 
The Three Lords and Ladies of London, Hazlitt, Old Plays, 
vi, 311, 1590. (Ironical) Lean, II, ii. 

As false as a fox. Montgommery, Cherry and Slae, 1597, Hazlitt. 
No more truth in thee than in a drawn fox. Shak., KH IVa, 
III, iii, 40. Cf. Ase vox is best falsest. Ancren R., 1225, 
NED. See Clever, Cunning. Vulpes amat frmidem, lupus 
agnani, femina laudeni. 

As fause as a rot (rzr rat). Jackson & Hurne, 595. Sly, untrust- 
worthy. 

As fearful as a hare, and will lie like a lapwing. 1606, NED. 
"The lappewinke hath lost his feith. And is the brid falsest 
of alle," said already Gower, Conf. Am., ii, 329, and Chaucer 
says 'the false lapwynge, ful of trecherye" Pari. P., 347. You 
resemble the lapwing, who crieth most where his nest is not. 
Lyly, AC, II ii. Dodsley, ed. 1825 has the following note: 
'This simile occurs in our ancient writers perhaps more fre- 
quently than any other which can be pointed out.' Several 
inst. from Massinger, Ford, Dekker, Rowley &c. are given. 
— 'The lapwing is almost universally held in bad esteem, as 
is shown by the various titles and legends in which it plays 
a part.' See Swainson, l^B, 185. 

You'll find her as slippery as an eel. Richardsson, P, 207, 1741. 
No, you are not bad. You are a dear. But as slippery as 
an eel when I want to get a confession from you. Hardy, 
JO, 326, 1896. 

As slippy as an eel. Untrustworthy, not to be depended upon. 
Ant. Frequently used in reference to a person who could not 
be easily bound or kept to a bargain. 1892. ICDD. 
Her promise of friendship for any avail, /Is as sure to hold as 
an eel by the tail. Heywood, Pl^ 24. 

As trusty as is quick eel by the tail. Trial of Treasure, 1567, 
Hazlitt, Old Plays, iii, 228. 

There is as much hold of his word as of a wet eel by the 
tail. Slang. As slape as an eel's tail. Yks. Cowan, PS, 36. 



-:> 



A crafty, schuffling, unreliable person is said to be a slape 
chap. EDD. Cf. also, Whosoever have hym best, is no more 
sure of hym, than he that hath an ele by the tayle. 1524, 
NED. — Cf. Sw. hal som en al; Dutch, zo glad als een aal; 
German, so glatt wie ein Aal. 

Cowards, whose hearts are all as false /As stairs of sand, Shak., 
MV, III, ii, 83. — ... his words are loose/ As heaps of 
sand. Dryden, SF, VI, 507. Sand is often used as a symbol 
of instability. Cf. 'If the citizen owes his primary allegiance 
to his state, then this Republic is held together by a rope 
of sand.' Edgar Cowan, 1861, Cowan, PS, 29. 'Rope of 
sand' used of something that has no coherence or binding 
power from 1624, NED. See also Matt, vii, 26. 

So giddy are the common people's mindes,/ So glad of chaunge, 
more wavering than the sea. Ferrex & Porrex, V, i, Dodsley, 
ed. 1825. 

As faithless as the sea. Gay, Wife of Bath, 17 13, Lean, II, 
ii. — The sea is often called 'cruel, treacherous.' 

She was false as waters. Shak., 0th., V., ii, 137. Cf. But were 
they false/ As o'er-dy'd blacks, as Wind, as Waters,/ As dice 
are to be wish'd. Shak., WT, I, ii, 132. 

Blandamour, whose fancie light/ Was alwaies flitting as the wavering 
wind/ After each beautie that appeard in sight, Spenser, FQ, 
IV, ii, 5. . . . vain fantasy, /Which is as thin of substance 
as the air,/ And more inconstant than the wind. Shak., RJ, 
I, iv, 99. 

As false as the wind. Lean, II, ii, — Wind and water have 
ever been the likeness of a faithless and inconstant mind. — 
IVam imilier cupido quod dicit amanti hi vejtto et rapida scri- 
bere oportet aqua. Catullus. 

As changeable as an April day. Lean. April is often used fig. 
in reference to the chanseable weather of the month. NED. 



Flattering, Fawning, Smooth-spoken. 

Th' old man hed nobbut two suns, and one was as blunt as a 
hatchet, an' t'other slaape as oil. Lin. EDD. See Slippery, 
Smooth, Ch. III. 

To the people they're oilers ez slick ez molasses. Lowell, 1848, 
NED. Slick and sleek have had the meaning 'oily, fawning, 
plausible' from c. 1600. NED. Smoth spaniel, soothing grome, 
Slicke oyly knave, egregious parasite! 1600, NED. 

As flattering or fawning as a spaniel. Ray. 

He /a pander/ must haue the backe of an asse, the snout of 
an elephant, the wit of a fox, and the teeth of a wolf, he must 



— 26 — 

faune like a spanel, crouch like a Jew, Here like a sheep-biter. 
Nashe, II, 260. 

As flattering as a spaniel. Withals, 1616, Lean, II, ii. 
The fawning (flattering) spaniel is mentioned by NED from 
1 569. Prawning and submissive persons have been called, or 
compared with, spaniels from the latter half of the i6th c. 
For inst. see NED and Dryden, VIII, 354, Pope, Dunciad, 
III, 199, note. The following inst. may be worth quoting, 
"I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius,/ The more you beat me, 
I will fawn on you. Shak., MND, II, i, 202. Cf. the Shropshire 
proverb 'A spaniel, a wife, and a walnut tree. The more 
the}' are beaten the better they be!' The vice-admiral . . . 
(who is as officious, poor man ! as any spaniel can be . . .). 
Pepys, I, 163. 

She made him tame as a spaniel. Butler, H., Ill, 144. 
They flattered me like a dog. Shak., KL, IV, vi, 96. 
To fawn like a dog that stands at receipt of a trencher. Mel- 
bancke, Philotimus, 28, 1583, Lean, II, ii. 

You show'd your teeth like apes, and fawn'd like hounds. 
Shak., JS, V, i, 41. 

Rut the wyld man, contrarie to her feare,/ Came to her creep- 
ing like a fawning hound. Spenser, FQ, VI, v, 11. 



Sane. 

Tiiou' you're as sane as Satan you can go clean oft' your dot. 
Verse of 1896. NED has no inst. of the adj. sane before 
1628, and this particular sense dates from 1721. See Clever. 



Wise. 

As wise as Solomon. Chest. Plays, ii, 103; Barclay, Ship of Fools, 
i, 96, 1509, Davies of Hereford, Civil Wars of Death and 
Fortune, 103, 1609. Brewer, Diet. 

As wise as Saba. Marlowe, F, 40. See Chaste. The queen of 
Saba. 

Though a man be as wise as a constable at his entrance, his wit 
sometimes is so shrunk in the wetting, that he may want the 
understanding of an ass. Taylor, JL, 16. See Melbancke, 
Philotimus, L3, 1583, Lean, II, ii. 
Which of the constables is this.^ 

As wise as t'uUot. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Unless this is 
ironical, it must be the owl at night. For the owl in day- 
time, see Shi pi d. 



— 27 — 

Wise as a serpent. — 'This refers to the serpent which tempted 
Eve, or more probably the old notion that serpents were 
extremely wise.' Brewer, Diet., 1306. Most probably in Eng- 
lish from Matt, xi, 16, Be wise as serpents and harmless as 
doves. 



Clever, Crafty, Cunning. 

As crafty as the devil of hell. Gascoigne, 1587, Lean, II, ii. 

He was cunning as the diel. Jenny's Bawbee, Scottish Musical 

Museum, ed. 1839, vol. v, 439. 

She is as deep as the devil or any draw-well. Nhb. EDD. 

As cunning as Lucifer. Richardson, P., 55. 

It requires one as clever as Satan to question your assertion. 

Ware, s. v. Devil doubt you. 

As deep as hell. Davies, J., Wittes Pilgr. c. 16 10, A. Brome, 
Ballads, V, iii, 1664. Lean, II, ii. 

You are as clever as the devil's disciple. Vachel, WJ, 25, 1908. 

As fause as a Pendle witch. — 'Eawr Matty gets as fause,' said 
he, 'As one o' Pendle witches,' VVaugh, Poems, ed. Milner, c. 
i860. 'This is a saying which keeps on record the traditional 
association of Pendle Forest with witches.' Wright, RS, 211. 
These traditions must be very old; we have Thomas Hey wood's 
"well received comedy" The Late Lancashire Witches, and 
in the 17th c. numerous persons were put to death, in and 
out of Lancashire, "lawfully convicted" of witchcraft. See 
Roby, Traditions of Lancashire, I, 280 f. 

He're as fause as a boggart. Lan. EDD. A boggart is a ghost 
or apparition. — B'ause <C[ false = sharp, elever. 

He's as deep as Wilkes. Common expression in Line, signifying 
very great deepness or cunning. Line. Gloss. 1877. Also 
in Nhp. EDD writes Wilks, and explains 'A person who 
was proverbial for his craft and cunning: or more probably 
allusive to Wilkes, the celebrated pseudo-patriot.' Is this John 
Wilkes, the politician .f' His versatility and powers of fascination 
may perhaps have given rise to such a saying. But cf. the 
Irish 'as close as a wilk,' which, through the plural (They 
are) as close as wilks, may have developed into 'as deep as 
wilks.' The word 'wilk' (= willock =r: periwinkle) not being 
understood, may have given rise to speculations as to some 
crafty person called Wilks, or Wilkes. The form wilk is also 
found in Lin. — Deep has had this sense from the beginning 
of the i6th c. 

As cunning as Craddock, &c. Ray. 

As cunning as a crafty Cradock. — It appears to be more 
than probable that John Cradock, vicar of Gainford, 1594, 



— 28 — 

might have given rise to the proverb. He was a high com- 
missioner for Durham, a justice of the peace, the bishop's 
spiritual chancellor, and vicar-general. . . . He took bribes 
as a magistrate, and did numerous other underhand practices. 
Mr. Walbran, in his History of Gainford, records a few of his 
crafty misdeeds. Ray. — 'Mr. Ray gives the above proverb thus: 
/see above/ but as to what is included in the "et cetera" I 
am at loss to imagine.' Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 
45. — Cf. the Cumberland saying 'as lean as a cradda (crad- 
dagh)', EDD. 
As cunning as Capain Drake. Hazlitt, Ray, ed. Bohn. It is not 
found in Ray, 1768. It is only natural that a man like Captain 
Drake should have become the central figure of many legends 
and a prototype of all that is excellent. 
As deep as Garrick. 

Beside this standard form, which is, or was, current in Lin. 
Yks. Shr. Hfr. Sur. Sus. Dev. Cor. Guernsey, (N. & Q.), we 
have Garry, War. Glo., Garratt, Pem., Garry-zvarrick, Hrf., 
Garlick, West Som. ("a very common saying", W. Som. Gloss. 
189), Charlock (Brassica sinapistruvi) W. Cor. "Any farmer 
will appreciate the meaning of the latter." N. & O., 10, viii, 
■}^']'j. Carrick on the coast of Cornwall, N. & Q., 6, iv, 386. 
"As artful as Garrick", or "as deep as Garrick" has been familiar 
to me since earliest childhood, and is yet current in most 
parts of the county, and most likely in all other parts of Eng- 
land." Boston, Line, N. & Q., 6, iv, 540. 

The saying was used "in the days of my boyhood, up- 
wards of fifty years ago." "I remember its being a common 
saying with my nurse, a Plymouth woman, full sixty-five years 
ago." ibid. This would take it back to c. 1825. It is pro- 
bably m.uch older. 

This sim. does not appear to be found in lit. English. 
The only sources known at present are EDD and N. & Q. 
"I have repeatedly heard /this saying/ from the lips of cot- 
tagers." N. & Q., 6, iv, 540. It "is often used by the lower 
classes, and, indeed, sometimes jocularly by the better educated." 
ibid. It was used by "a woman in a remote Surrey village." 
N. & Q., 6, iv, 386. 'But on the other hand "As deep as 
garlic" was the way a high-born lady of my acquaintance 
used it.' N. & Q., 6, iv, 541. 

Now, what is this Garrick, Garratt, Garry &c..^ — "Here 
and there some noteworthy man is commemorated in an everyday 
simile, as for instance: as deep as Garrick . . ." W^right, RS, 
185. A correspondent of N. & O., 2, ii, 307, writes as follows: 

' is remarkable as showing that the genius of the 

modern Roscius was something beyond the mere fame which 
attaches itself to the actor of an age .... although . . . the 
name of Garrick has been corrupted into 'Garratt', the exi- 



— 29 — 

stence of such a proverb among people who can scarcely have 
heard of G. shows how widely spread the fame of that great 
actor must have been.' 

This theory presents no very great difficulties. It may 
seem rather strange that a sim. supposed to allude to a famous 
literary London hero should be of a certain frequency in rustic 
speech but remarkably absent in literary English. But this 
is not unparallelled. We have 'as sour as Hector' and, more 
strange still, 'as merry as Momus'. Who would expect the 
old Greek god to turn up in English dialects.'' This shows 
that we may find in the dialects literary allusions that are 
foreign to standard English. Garrick's fame must have spread, 
and there is nothing strange in his becoming the hero of many 
popular myths and the embodiment of sharpness and cunning. 
There is a Swedish parallel. To the uneducated in many 
parts of Sweden the great poet Bellman is nothing but a court- 
jester of a rather coarse stamp, and a person who knows 
nothing of the real Bellman could tell burlesque stories of the 
fictitious one that would stagger the literary historian. In a 
similar way with Garrick. Gradually the man and the stories 
that had gathered about his name were forgotten, but the 
phrase remained. Consequently the word Garrick ceased to 
have a meaning of its own, and was easily corrupted into 
something else or supplanted by something intelligible. From 
this point of view it is rather strange that it should have been 
kept uncorrupted to such an extent. 

As deep as Carrick. It has been suggested that this is 
not a corruption of Garrick, but simply the Celtic word carrick, 
carraig, carreg meaning a (submersed) rock (see Dinneen, P. S., 
An Irish-English Diet. s. v. carraig.), and J. Holden Mc 
Michael, a frequent correspondent of N. & Q., writes ibid. lO, 
viii, 377, as follows, 'The allusion in this phrase is said to be, 
not to Garrick the actor, but to the depth of Carrick sound 
in N. B. (see ibid. 3, xi, 469). I do not know in what part this 
deep sound occurs, however, and should have thought the 
saying refers rather to Carrick, a small rocky island of the 
north coast of Antrim . . . connected with the mainland by a 
bridge . . . spanning a chasm 80 feet deep.' If the saying 
is Irish, or at any rate Celtic, how are we to explain its chief 
occurrence in districts where a Celtic influence is impossible? 
No Irish instance has as yet been produced. 

An altogether different explanation has been given by 
A. Smythe Palmer in a very interesting paper on 'Folk-Lore 
in Word-Lore' in the Nineteenth Century, 1910, II, 545 ff. 
He admits that the present shape of the sim. is due "to the 
fame of the great actor, which had reached the ears of the 
rustics," but it is only a "reshaping, under the influence of 
folk-etymology, of a much older expression." This has been 



— 30 — 

preserved in the purest way in the Pembrokeshire form 'as 
deep as Garrat.' 'Garrat' is a development, he thinks, of the 
14th c. word gerard or gerrard, which means 'an evil one' or 
'the evil one', and he quotes the Fr. expression Gerard le 
Diable. Thus the sim. would mean simply 'as deep as the 
devil'. But he goes still further. This obscure word is a ME 
form of the Scandinavian Geirrod, a figure of some impor- 
tance in Northern mythology. This is a fire-giant, who is called 
"the crafty knave", "the hundred wise," and gradually was- j 
looked upon as 'a sort of King of Death or the Underworld', 
and might "readily come to be regarded as one with the devil 
of popular Christianity. Thus Gerard as a devil-name in 
medieval writers would naturally be accunted for; and, lastly, 
the Garret who enjoys a proverbial reputation for 'depth' or 
evil cunning among the peasantry of our own day would 
have his pedigree unfolded ". (Cf. a figure in Irish mythology 
Earl Garrett, who rides round the Curragh of Kildare on a 
steed whose inch-thick silver-shoes must wear as thin as a 
cat's ear, ere he fights the English and reigns over Ireland. 
See Conway, Demonology & Devil-lore). 'As deep as Garrick' 
ultimately means as abysmal or unfathomable as Geirrod, the 
subterranean Hades of the ancient Scandinavians.' 

This is both ingenious and interesting. But as long as 
our actual knowledge of the sim. and its supposed origin is 
so limited as it really is, a discussion is likely to be guided 
by our sympathies rather than by facts. Facts tell us very 
little. A development Gerard > Garratt is of course quite 
possible, and we know that Gerard was a term for the devil, 
but we do not know whether it had vitality enough to survive 
to the 1 8th c. to be refreshed again and reshaped by the 
fame of Garrick, and become current in so widely different 
districts as Pembroke, Guernsey, Sussex, and Yorkshire, a 
development of course not altogether impossible, though not 
very probable. ('As deep as Garrick' may of course have 
become current in districts where the old word Gerard was 
totally unknown). 

It is naturally very tempting to connect Gerard with the 
"crafty knave', 'the hundred-wise' Geirrod. For a northern 
origin of the word speak the pronunciation of G (see NED) 
and the fact that Gerard, which occurs in Cursor Mundi, is 
found in MSS C. and G 2, of which C represents the original 
Northumbrian MS, but not in the chief Midland MS (See 
Barth, C, Der Wortschatz des Cursor Mundi). Palmer mentions 
the French Gerard le Diable. Of this G. le D. Colin de 
Plancy, Dictionaire Infernal, says, 'garnement du treizieme 
siecle, enfant de grande maison a Gand. La sinistre histoire 
de ce possede, de son fils Gerard le Maure et de la tour rouge 
est ctablie dans les Legendes infernales.' (An old castle at 



Gent called het Steen de G. le D., where the provincial ar- 
chives used to be kept, still reminds us of the old legends). 
This and the circumstance that a French Gerard could not 
possibly have developed into an English Garratt, make a French 
origin of the word improbable. 

But it is not absolutely necessary to go deep into mytho- 
logy, Scandinavian or otherwise, to explain how Gerard came 
to mean 'the evil one'. There are, all over the world, a great 
many euphemisms for the devil. Personal names form one of 
the many groups of such expressions. In English we have 
not only Old Nick and Old Harry, but also Davy Jones, the 
sailors' devil, Nickie Ben, Old Roger, Tom Titivil, Simie (late 
1 8th c, North Cy), and in Scotland Clootie Ben, in Swedi-sh 
not only Gammel Erik, but also Horn-Per (Hornie Peter); in 
northern Germany he is sometimes called 'der Rote Jakob, Jan 
Krauger aus Philippsgriin, Meister Urian, and Herr Lorian.' 
Why should precisely these names be chosen? That is a 
question as easily answered as the one why a certain unmen- 
tionable vessel should have been called in English jeremiah, 
in some parts of Sweden Rebecka or Kalle (Charlie). For some 
reason, which we do not know as yet, Gerard may have been 
used in this way. 

\s slee as onny Danniel. Stagg, Misc. Poems, 1807. Cum. EDD. 
Slee (rrz sly) means clever. — See Dan. I, 17. 

\s cunning as a crowder; as cunning as Crowder. Gentlemen's 
Mag., 1754, passim. There are two explanations of this saying. 
One writer maintains that cunning means skilful, clever, as it 
still does in many dialects, and that the crowder of the adage 
is the musician, the fiddler. Another correspondent thinks 
that it is ironical and alludes to a certain person called Samuel 
Crowder, a carrier, who became proverbial for his want of 
astuteness. Both of them call it a northern saying. The sim. 
is quoted by Hazlitt and Lean in the first form. 

As this is all we know of the sim., conjectures are not 
very profitable. But the following considerations may be to 
the point. We do not find that the fiddler is renowned for 
cunning &c. On the contrary, a proverb says, 'Show me a 
fiddler, show me a fool.' etc. There is in NED another word 
•crowder' connected with the verb 'to crowd i.' One of the 
two instances given runs like this: A certein old crafty Crowder 
laden throughly with the Popes Bulles raunged the coastes. 
(1581). NED explains 'one who crowds.' But this does not 
tell us much. Now, the only meaning that could be assigned 
to the verb in this case is *to push a wheelbarrow or hand- 
cart.' This sense is still extant in some dialects. The crowder 
would consequently be either some sort of carrier without a 
horse (Samuel the Crowder?), or perhaps some sort of pedlar 
carting his wares about the country in a wheelbarrow. One 



would think that a person of this character had to be pretty 
smart if he were to thrive, but we find that Cobbet writes 
'The poor deluded creature . . . who knew nothing . . . about 
such matters . . . was a perfect pedlar in political economy'. 
1825, NED. And D'Israeli: The most innocent . . . those 
whose talent has been limited by Nature to peddle and purloin. 
NED. These inst. show that pedlars and peddling have been 
connected with mental inefficiency. But this idea may have 
developed in later times as, with the increase of shops and 
modern commerce, peddling deteriorated, and became too 
contemptuous to deserve the name of a trade. 

As crafty as a Franciscan friar. Tusser, Husbandrie, p. 11, 1513- 
See False. 

He has as many tricks as lawyer. Withals, 1616, Lean, II, ii. 
See False. 

As cunning as a Christian. Lei. 

As fause as a Christian. Wright, RS, 112. 

My horse is as sensible as a Christian. Wor. w. Som. 

As wise as a Christen. Nhb. My dog's as false as any man. 

Line. 1886. Folk-Lore LXIII, 409. In the same way of a 

horse. — These are different forms of a sim. often applied 

to dogs or horses to indicate that they are as clever as human 

beings. 

That lad is as sharp as bottled porridge. — - It denotes mental 
briskness — as a clever boy in school. Cuthbert Bede, N. & Q., 
7, iv, 48. 

As sharp as if he lived on Tewkesbury mustard. Higgson's MSS 
Collections, Hazlitt; Heywood. Tewksbury mustard, "the best 
the world affords", was famous in Shakespeare's days, but is 
so no longer. 

He was a very good fellow, keen as mustard. 19 Cent. Nov. 
12, 895. 'Keen' meaning sharp-witted, shrewd dates from the 
beginning of the i8th c. See Eager. 

As full of wit as a ginger-beer bottle is of pop. Bartlett, Ameri- 
canisms, Lean, II, ii. Not recorded in Thornton. 

As sharp as a razor. Horman, Vulgaria, 277, 15 19. Lean, II, 
ii. Ray. This sim. has a variety of applications. See Sharp, 
Chapter III. 

As sharp as a knife. Barclay, Ship of Fools, ii, 4. Lean, II, ii. 
— Cf. Some lown as sharp set as a knife Was lurking bye. 
1794. EDD. — Sharp-set = sharp-witted, keen. 

They are sharp as spear, if they seem but slender (of women). 
Towneley Myst. p. 309. Lean, II, ii. 

As deep as a tailor's thimble. Yks. EDD. A tailor's thimble has 
no botom. 

As sharp as a needle. T. Heywood, P^air Maid of the Exchange, 
p. 27, Lean; I am not so dark neither; I am sharp, sharp 
as a needle. Shadwell, 1688 NED. This is the only thing 



— 33 — 

he is soft in; he's sharp as a Needle in anything else. Bailey, 
1725, NED. 

Denner had a mind as sharp as a needle. Elliot, 1866, NED. 
Now, the yeller dog was as sharp as a needle. London Mag. 
'15, 750. Hardy, DR, 321, UGT, 191, &c. — This is a very 
common phrase, and it seems to refer chiefly to sharpness 
of mind. 

But he is as gleg as Mac Keachan's elshin that ran through sax 
plies of bend-leather, and half an inch of the king's heel. 
Scott, Heart af Midlothian, XVII. — 'Gleg' is 'sharp', and 
the elshin, or elsin, is the shoemaker's awl. See N. & Q., 10, 
viii, 114, where an account of Mac Keachan's awl is given. 
This proverbial saying is said to be of Scott's own coinage. 
But cf. the Yks phrase 'as sharp as an elshin.' EDD. 

As sharp as the little end of nothing. Bartlett, Americanisms. 
Lean, II, ii. Not rec. in Thornton. 'The little end of nothing' 
must be disappearingly sharp. 

As deep as Chelsea, or Chelsea reach. This is a comparison for 
cunning in Norfolk. — T asked an old lady who said in my 
hearing that her cat was as deep as Chelsea, what or where 
Chelsea was; but all she knew about it was, "that it was a 
saying like.'" N. & Q., 2, III, 258. See Dead Ch. II. 

As subtle as a dead pig. Walker, 1672, Lean, II, ii. 

I am told, my lady manages him to admiration. — That I 
believe; for she is as cunning as a dead pig; but not half 
so honest. Swift, PC, 293. This is a very puzzling phrase. 
Does it mean that 'dead pigs' are not always really dead, 
but sometimes show, in a rather surprising way, that they are 
quite alive .f* 

As fawse as a owd tup. Lan. EDD. 

As sharp as an ape. Udall, Er. Ap., p. 371, 1542, Lean, II, ii. 
Is this ironical ? 

As fawse as a bag o' monkeys. 1879, EDD. Cf. He's as cunning 
as a basketful of monkeys. Doyle, F., 73, 1890. 

He has as many tricks as a dancing bear. Hazlitt. 

He has more items than a dancing bear. Hazlitt. See Ill- 
tempered. 

She has as many tricks as a hare in a thicket, or a colt the 
first day's breaking. Goldsmith, SSC, 242. See below 'as 
clever as a hare.' 

As crafty as a Kendal fox. Ray. See N. & Q., 1853, 233, Den- 
ham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 219. — The Kendal fox-hunt 
is not altogether unknown. 

Master would be crafty as an old fox if he weren't stupid as an 
owl. Baring-Gould, BS, 292. 
Mossie was a clever loun, 
A little mare did buy; 
She winket and she jinket, 

3 



— 34 — 

That none could her come nigh. 

She was as crafty as a fox, 

And clever as a hare ; 

An' I'll tell by an' by 

How Mossie teuk's mare. c. i8io,. N. & 0., 4, III, 95. 
The Spaniard was as cunning as any fox. Kingsley, \VH, 
184. Amyas . . . was cunning as a fox in all matters of 
tactic. Kingsley, WH, 97. 

As cunning as a clyket. Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXV^ 
107. Clyket is said to be a fox; probably a term for the 
he-fox in the rutting time. The females of fox, wolf, and 
hare are said to go to clicket, or more commonly, (on) click- 
eting when they are in heat. 

She is as false as a little fox. Line. EDD. Yon little terrier 
o' yours is as wick as a flea, an' as fause as a fox. Lin. EDD. 
Sly as a fox. Brewer, Diet., 1143. Hewett, Dev. 12. 
We are beastly; subtle as the fox for prey,/ Like warlike as 
the wolf for what we eat. Shak., Cy, III, iii, 40. — The 
shrewdness and craft of the fox, which are proverbial in all 
Germanic languages, are alluded to already in OE. 
Sharp as a weasel. — Bright, intelligent, EDD, Oxf. 

As sharp as a rezzil. Nicholson, E. Vorks., Folk-Lore 
LXIX, 223. 

As clever as a quhittret. — Reference might be made to the 
use of the word as a term of endearment, applied to a child, 
particularly to a clever, sharp, active child. Jam. EDD. 
As wacken as a witterick. — Sharp, quick-witted. Line. 1877. 
Folk-Lore, LXIII, 411. 
I was so cunning as a viper. Phillpotts, AP, 405. 
As cunning as a cuttle, or cuttle-fish; or 'as crafty, deceitful, stra- 
tegic &c. Cf. the following verse: — 

And lo! the timid cuttle-fish 

So skilled in strange deceit, 

That spouteth floods of inky hue 

To hide its quaint retreat. Robert Bigsby, Cowan, PS, 
32. The common cuttle-fish. Sepia officinalis, also called 
inkfish. 'Allusions to this . . mollusc are met with fre- 
quently in the writings of the Greeks and Romans; and the 
proverb, accordingly, is familiar to-day to many who have no 
personal knowledge of the strange creature and its peculiar 
power'. See Cowan, 1. c, where further references are found. 
As cunning as a bee. Lyly, Alexander & Campaspe, IV, in Lean, 
II, ii; probably no proverbial sim. but one of Lyly's many 
"quaint conceits". The text runs as follows: — /Diogenes 
has given out that he is going to fly/ Psyllus. /wanting to 
know if the great event is likely to take place/ We shall 
hear, for here cometh Manes. — Manes, will it be.^ — Manes. 



— 35 — 

Be! he were best be as cunning as a bee, or else shortly he 
will not be at all. 

As sharp as a wasp. — Bright, intelligent. Oxf., EDD. 

A smart little tweggink lass, ut nipt obewt us sharp us a breeor. 
1 8 19, Lane. EDD. T'lad's as sharp as a breear. Yks. 
Sharp as a bree. Yks. EDD. See above 'sharp as a razor.' 
Sharp Ch. III. 

As sharp as a thistle. Towneley Myst. 100., Lean, II, ii. Meaning? 

As deep as a draw-well. Northall, FP., 8. Hazlitt. 

As deep as a well. Lin. EDD. Clever, cunning, — Howell, 
Paroimiologia, 1659, has the phrase 'as deep as Currie well.' 

His plot be deeper than the sea. Phillpotts, AP, 405. 

As deep as the North. Jackson & Burne, 594. Cf. the phrase 
'too far north' known from Smollet's time. 'Too canny, too 
cunning to be taken in; very hard in making a bargain. The 
inhabitants of Yorkshire are supposed to be very canny, espe- 
cially in driving a bargain.' Brewer, Diet. 897. There is 
also a Wor. saying 'to have been as far North as anyone', 
to be no more a simpleton than anyone. EDD. The Nhp. 
word 'Northish' means 'sharp, overreaching'. 

Deep.? She was as deep as the North star. Hardy, DR, 471, 
1 87 1. 'As deep as the northstar, as deep as Garrick.' These 
are two degrees of comparison for intensified cunning in 
common use amongst the lower classes in this town and 
neighbourhood. Haverfordwest. N. & O., 2, II, 307. — 
This sim. has probably something to do wnth the guiding of 
ships. Cf. The Northstar . . . doth better guide the pilot, 
than even the moon herself. Boyle, 1661, NED. 

Oh, my brains are quick as lightening. Phillpotts, AP, 178. See 
Quick, Ch. III. 



Mad, Crazy. 

As mad as the devil. J. Wilson, Belphegor, 1691, Lean, II, ii. 
As mad as the Devil of hell. Fleming, 1576, NED. 

The nigger's crazy — crazy's Nebokoodneezer. Twain, HE, 355. 
See Dan., iv, 32. 

I know what I know, that which will vex every vein of thy heart, 
and make thee as mad as the Man in the Moon. Vinegar 
& Mu., 10, 1673. — For the Man in the Moon see Knoiv- 
ledge. Ignorance. 

The idea of the moon's influence on life is very old, 
and was formerly far more prevalent than now. A person 
who came under the malignant influence of the moon was 
'moon-struck', or a lunatic (from Latin hmay moon), and his 
mental derangement was either intermittent, the symptoms 



- 36 - 

increasing or decreasing with the changes of the moon, or per- 
manent kmacy, originally the term only for the former kind 
of insanity. The following quotations furnish some illustrations. 
"I think the moon has crazed them all." Jonson, Alch, V, i, 
123. "Mad as pe mone sitt more ojjer lasse." Langland, P. 
Pi., X, 108. "When the moon is in the full, then wit's in 
wane." W. Rowley, Witcli of Edmonton, II, i, 1658, Lean, II, ii. 
F hullo. Are there no lawyers here amongst you.^ /in a mad- 
house/ 

Town. Oh no, not one: never any lawyer. W'e dare not 
let a lawyer come in; for he'll make 'em mad faster than we 
can recover 'em. 

Dake. And how long is't ere you recover any of these.' 
Town. Why, according to the quantity of the moon that's 
got into em. Dekker, HWh, la, xii. — 'Bacon seems to 
have considered that even the "braine of a man waxeth 
moister and fuller upon the Full of the Moone;" and there- 
fore, he continues, "it were good for those that have moist 
braines, and are great drinkers, to take the fume of Lignum 
&c. about the Full of the Moone." He also tells us, in his 
Natural History, that the influences of the moon are four: 
"the drawing forth of heat, the inducing of putrefaction, the 
moisture, and the exciting of the motions of the spirits." — 
In respect to the last influence he goes on to say, "You 
must note that the growth of hedges, herbs, haire, &c. is 
caused from the Moone, by exciting of the spirits as well as 
by increase of the moisture. But for the spirits in particular 
the great instance is Lunacies.'" Folkard, PL, 167. — In a 
book by a French doctor, printed at Lyon in 1625, there is 
a list of diseases caused by the mon: Apostumes de matieres 
humides, fistules, imbecillite d'estomach et de reins, folie pro- 
venante de trop aimer . . . vertigo ou tournement de tete, 
legerete de cerveau semblable a folie, folles imaginations . . . 
et autres qui ont causes latentes et reviennent par certain 
temps. N. & O., 2, II, 384; see ibid, and 4. I, passim, 
where evidence is given that the belief in the moon's influence 
on the state of health lived on till after the middle of last 
century. 

If he were as madde as a weaver. 1609, NED. 

On the subject of politics, my dear Alvanley,_h£ is as mad as a 
hatter. Gronow's Recollections and Anecdotes, 1863, 151. 
I tell you the man was as mad as a hatter. Phillpotts, TK, 205. 
Hewett, Dev. 12; N. & O., NED. The phrase has been 
'stereotyped for the present generation by the excellent fooling 
of Alice in Wonderland.' A. Smythe Palmer, Folk-Ety- 
mology, XI. 

This does not appear to be an old phrase. There was 
pubUshed in 1863 a farce called 'As mad as a Hatter', which 



— Z7 - 

shows that it must have been tolerably well known by that 
time, although no earlier instance has been found. Neverthe- 
less, attempts have been made to date it back to older times. 
Hazlitt says: '. . . it appears from the dedication to the 
Hospital of Incurable Fools, 1600, that there was at the time 
living an eccentric character, perhaps not possessed of super- 
fluous intelligence, known as John Hodgson, alias John Hatter, 
alias John of Paul's Churchyard. Possibly we may here have 
the original "mad hatter."'— Nashe, III, 212, speaks of "the 
bedlam hatmaker's wife by London bridge, he that proclaymes 
hymselfe Elias." If anyone deserves the name, this "bedlam 
hatmaker" must be the original 'mad hatter'. 

The 'hatter' of the sim. is usually explained as a maker 
of hats. In DNL (Febr. 191 3) there is the following humo- 
rous statement: 'After he had pointed out /a writer in the 
Central China Post/ that there are hundreds of varieties of 
English hats, he declares: The reason for such diversity is 
to be found in the fact that the men who make hats in for- 
eign countries are all mad. When they speak there of a man 
who has lost his mental balance, they say that he is as mad 
as a hatter.' 

But why should the hatter be mad sooner than any 
other craftsman? Various reasons have been given. The 
phrase is said to have been imported from Australia, and the 
mad hatters are the shepherds and hutkeepers, who at the 
same time were makers of hats. Owing to their lonely life 
they often become crazy and have given rise to the sim. 
(Adventures and Experiences of a University Man, 1871, p. 
69), N. & Q., 4, VIII, 395. The fact that 'mad' == 'violent, 
angry' is applied to hatters is supposed to arise from 'per- 
sonal extravagance, owing to the superabundant prosperity 
of journeymen-hatters'. N. & Q., 9, VII, 257. The hatter's 
madness is said to be dipsomania 'induced by working with 
hot iron in a heated atmosphere and in a standing position', 
ibid. 396, and the 'full text of the proverb should run "as 
mad drunk as a hatter" or "as mad through drunkenness as 
a hatter." See Dnmk, Ch. II. 

"William Collins, the poet, was the son of a hatter at Chi- 
chester, Sussex. The poet was subject to fits of melancholy 
madness, and v^^as for some time confined in a lunatic asylum 
at Chelsea. The other lunatics, hearing that his father was 
a hatter, got up the saying," Antiquary, Dec. 1876, N. & 

Q., 5. XII, 178. 

"The French compare an incapable or weak-minded per- 
son to an oyster: "He reasons like an oyster". I would sug- 
gest therefore that the French huitre may have given occa- 
sion to the English hatter. 'II raisonne comme une huitre' 
may have come out "as mad as a hatter." N. & Q., 3, V, 24. 



- 38 - 

As mad as a hatter — as road as a natter, meaning 
'nadder, adder' is a solution propounded by two correspon- 
dents of X. & O., 4, III, 64. 

A writer ibid. 3, V, 64 speaks of a word 'knattery', from 
which he supposes the existence of a word knatter, and hence 
'as mad as a knatter". 'Knattery' means irritable. — There 
is a Sc. and n. Cy verb 'gnatter, knatter' which means 'to 
gnaw, bite at anything hard' and fig. to find fault with con- 
stantly, worry', and a Yks. subst. 'gnatter, natter' = a per- 
son who constantly scolds or complains. EDD. 

"Hatter is perhaps a popular survival of the old English 
word Jietter meaning furious, violent, inflamed with anger. 
It survives in various senses in the dialects, e. g. Jietter, ill- 
natured, bitter, keen, spiteful, malicious (Northampton); Sc. 
Jiettle fiery, irritable; Chs. hattle, wild, A. S. Jiactol, hot, furi- 
ous Compare also O. E. Jiethele, a hot iron; hotter, 

to boil (North); Jiotterm, boiling with passion. Thus the 
phrase would mean 'as mad as a person hot with passion' . . . 
Cf. But for her I should ha' gone bothering mad. Dickens, 
Hard Times, Ch. XI." Palmer, Folk-Etymology, Ch. XI. 

— In Stratman & Bradley there is a word heter, hetter, 
hatter, quick, rough, cruel, and the adv. hcterliche, hatterliche, 
fiercely, violently. In Pegge's Derbicisms there is an obsolete 
verb Jietter, to scold; to be Jietter, to be eager, fierce (of a 
dog); to cry Jietterly, of a child. In the present dial, there 
is a verb to hatter, which, among other things, means to 
harass, vex, ill-treat; to fret, make a fuss. There is also a 
substantive meaning a jumble, confused crowd, a knot or 
tangle: to be m a hatter, of a face all over sores. LiJse a 
hatter (given as a distinct word in EDD) is, it would seem 
chiefly in northern parlance, a more or less general intensive, 
in the sense of vigorously, boldly: He faced him /death/ like 
a hatter. ... he rins loik ony hatter. To fight like a hatter. 

— 'As mad as a hatter' would be a very natural development. 

Thus it would seem that a northern word signifying 
something vigorous, spiteful, and disordered and used as a 
general intensive has been adopted by writers who did not 
fully understand it, and associated with a word identical in 
form but widely different in sense. 

If so be I hadn't been so scatter-brained and thirtingill as a chiel, 
I should have called at the school-house as I cam up along, 
Hardy, UGT, 24. 

As mad as May butter. Monsieur Shattilion's mad . . . Mad as May- 
butter, And which is more, mad for a wench. Beaumont & Fletcher, 
Noble Gentleman, I, ii, NED. — Maybutter is unsalted butter 
preserved in the month of May for medicinal use. No inst. of 
the term is rec. after 1660. 'If during the month of May 
before you salt your butter you saue a lumpe thereof and 



— 39 — 

put it into a vessel, and set it into the sunne the space of 
that moneth, you shall finde it exceeding medicinable for 
wounds.' 1615, NED. Cf. Neveront. Miss, the weather is 
so hot, that my butter melts on my bread. — Lady Answ. 
Why, butter, I've heard'em say, is mad twice a year. 
Swift, PC, 234. Butter is mad twice a year. Once in sum- 
mer heat, when it is too thin and fluid; and once in the 
cold of winter, when it is hard to spread. Ray. 'Be not 
mad, butter; if it be/ It shall both July and December see.' 
Rob. Heath, Epigr., p. 38, 1650. — Unsalted butter 'set into 
the sunne' for a month must be a little "beside itself." But 
the twice-yearly madness of the butter refers to something 
else. There seems to have been some sort of superstitious 
belief that May produce and May births were in some way 
inferior or undesirable. May-babies are sickly, N. & Q., Febr. 
1853, 153, and May-kittens and May-ducks are both consi- 
dered unlucky or as causing mischief, ibid. 2, III, 477. 

Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog! Shak., MW, IV, ii. 
Cf. As mad not as a march hare, but as a madde dogge. 
More, 1529, NED. s. v. hare. As mad as a dog. Lin. EDD. 
Cf. also the cp sim. dog-mad, which is rec. from 1645, NED. 
"Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman out-par- 
amoured the Turk: false of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; 
hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in mad- 
ness, lion in prey." Shak., KL, III, iv, 88. 
As mad as a mastiff. Clarke, Lean, II, ii. 

W^e meet the mad dog in proverbial expressions in many 
languages from very early times. . This madness was caused, 
our forefathers believed, by the malignant influence of the 
dog-star, when in conjunction with the sun. 

Tame me! no: I'll be madder than a roasted cat. Dekker, HWh, 
la, xii. 

As mad as a baiting bull of Stamford. N. & Q., Ray, Hazlitt &c. 
have the baiting b., Fuller the baited bull. — This phrase 
had its origin in the bull-running which took place annually 
six weeks before Christmas in Stamford, Line, derived from 
a traditional incident recorded by Butcher, in his Survey of 
Stamford, p. 40. A full history of the buUbaiting is given 
in Burton's Chronology of Stamford, 1846. N. & Q., 2, I, 
460, 9, IX, 98. The "rude nasty pleasure" of buUbaiting, as 
Pepys called it, lived on far down into the 19th c, and at 
Stamford the memory of it was kept alive long after the 
suppression of the sport itself by "The Bull", an air performed 
by the orchestra at the theatre whenever it was open, and 
to which the old bull running song was sung by the buUards. 
N. & Q., 2, I, 392. 

As mad as a capple-faced bull. Hardy, UGT, 135. 'Cappel-faced' 
is white-faced with red or dun speckles. 



— 40 — 

Ez mad ez a bull at a yat. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. In 
daily use. 

As mad as a bull among humble bees. Bartlett, Lean, II, ii. 
Not in Thornton. 

They've tookt away the poor old John ... to the 'sylum, they 
zess how th'old man's so maze as a sheep, w. Som. EDD., 
Hewett, Dev. 11. A complete lunatic is said to be 'so mazed 
as a sheep' Dev. EDD. 'This is the precise equivalent to 
the conventional "as mad as a March hare". We in the west, 
however, draw our simile from a well-known disease of sheep, 
which makes them keep spinning round, and when the animal 
is so affected it is always said to be mae' uz! ElworthJ^ See 
also the W. Som. Gloss. 468. Cf. My head is as mazed as 
a dizzy sheep. Kingsley, \VH, 218. 

As mad as a tup. A Yorkshire saying equivalent to 'as mad as 
a March hare. N. & Q., 6, IX, 266. See Angry. 

It would make a man as mad as a buck to be so bought an sold. 
Shak., CE, III, i 72. 

As mad as a tithe pig. Davenport, City Nightcap, 166 1, Withals, 
16 16. Lean, II, ii. Tithe-pig is a term known to NED 
from 1555. — Why should a tithe-pig be more 'mad' than 
any other pig? Is it because, being taken to the tithing, 
it was likely to be more than usually obstinate, wilful, and 
excited? 

As mad not as a march hare, but as a madde dogge, More, 
1529, NED. 

Contrary to reason ye stamp and ye stare,/ Ye fret and ye 
fume, as mad as a March hare. Heywood, PE, 72. Even 
so /sleep/ hurteth the drunkards, bench-whistlers, that will 
quaff until stark staring mad like March hares. BuUein, Bul- 
warke of Defence, 1562, Lean, III. /Women at a madhouse/ 
are madder than march-hares. Dekker, HWh. la, xii. Beau- 
mont & Fletcher, Two Noble Kinsmen, III, v, Drvden, L.> 
VI, 100. 

For now- the mob had all begun/ As mad as hares in March 
to run. Ward, English Reformation, p. 80, 17 16, Lean, II, 
ii; Smollet, RR, 208; Kingsley, Water Babies, 208, Dickens, 
Martin Chuzzlewit, 447, W; Hewett, Dev.; Brewer, Diet., 
805 &c. 

Masid as a March hare he ran like a scut. Skelton, Gar- 
land of Laurel, 632, 1523; scut is another word for the 
hare. NED. 

Thanne {jey begynne to swere and to stare, And be as 
braynles as a Marsh hare. 14 . ., NED. — For further inst. 
see Slang. 

For though this somnour wood were as an hare. Chaucer, 
Friar's Tale, 1327. 

Thus the standard form of the sim. is known from 1529,, 



— 41 — 

although the term March hare dates form the 14th c. — 
There are frequent allusions to March-hare madness in ]\InE 
literature, although the idea of the hare's madness seems to 
go back in English at least to Chaucer. See above and cf. 
Swiche glaring eyen had he as an hare, Chaucer, 20/684. 
We have the terms 'harebrained' (what madde hare-brayned 
sotts we are, Nashe, II, 91), and 'March-mad', which dates 
from the early 17th c. NED, and 'The mad March days' 
Masefield, BP. The following quotations furnish some further 
illustrations. '•! say, thou madde March hare," Skelton, 1520, 
Lean, II, ii. "Though the .shape of the March hare show 
not in thee,/ Yet hast thou the March hare's mad property." 
Heywood, PE, 274. I am going to Ireland away to cool my 
hot liver in a bog, like a Jack-hare in March." Kingsley, WH, 
148. "He is like a March hare beat out of his country . . . 
and don't know whither to run next." "Hareskins is in . . ., 
from September to the end of March, when hares, they says, 
goes mad." Mayhew, London Labour and London Poor, 
N. & Q., 1851, Sept. p. 208. 

The sim. is commonly explained as a reference to the 
fact that hares are unusually shy and wild in the month of 
March, which is their rutting time. NED, Nare's Glossary, 
N. & Q. &c. But doubts have been expressed as to the 
sufficiency of this explanation. Erasmus, in his Aphorisms 
says that hares are wilder in marshes from the absence of 
hedge and cover. (N. & Q., 9, IX, 98). Thus his reading 
would probably have been 'as mad as a marsh hare'. Hazlitt 
writes 'queery marsh hare. Heywood, Epigr. 2nd Hundr., 
1562, 95, very properly says — "Are not midsomer hares as 
mad as March hares .r*" Borde, however, \v\\\\s Bo ke of Know- 
ledge, 1542, has, "staring madde like March Hares."' — It is 
very improbable that marsh has anything to do with the 
phrase. The term March-mad speaks against it. It is true 
that the first instance of the word (as braynles as a Marshe 
hare) may speak in favour of this interpretation but both the 
M and the fact that the name of the month was occasionally 
written with sh in ME, make it not only possible but also 
indisputable that March, the name of the month, is the word 
of the sim. Animals are knowm to be guilty of all sorts of 
extraordinary behaviour during their rutting seasons. To judge 
from N. & Q., 2, IX, 492. the hares must be particularly 
wild in March. Even if they were not remarkably so, and 
more than other beasts, a slight zoological inaccuracy may be 
counterbalanced by a piece of good alliteration, which is perhaps 
the chief thing about the sim. 

But there is in Heywood's 'midsomer hare' probably more 
than meets the eye. An old writer, Anthony Askam, quoted 
by Hulme and Folkard, says, speaking of a species of Sow 



— 42 — 

Thistle (So7ichus oleraceiis), also called Hare's Palace or Hare's 
Lettuce, "yf a hare eate of this herbe in somer, when he is 
mad, he shal be hole." "For yf the hare come under it, he is 
sure that no best can louche hym." Crete Herbale. 'According 
to an old belief the hare recruits her strength, or recovers herself 
from summer madness by eating this plant." Britten & Holland. 
Topsell, in his Natural History, alludes to this superstition : 
— "When hares are overconie with heat, they eat of an herb 
called Latuca leporina, that is, hare's lettuce, hare's house, 
hare's-palace; and there is no disease in this beast the cure 
whereof she does not seek for in this herb." Dyer, FLP, 263. 
Heat in this case probably means 'a hot distem.per without 
any kind of humour' (NED), according to mediaeval physi- 
ology. To these old writers the summer madness of the hare 
was an acknowledged thing, and the Chaucerian 'as wode as 
an hare' perhaps refers to the 'midsomer hare' just as much 
as to the March Hare. This 'distemper' of the hare's may 
have something to do with ancient and mediaeval ideas con- 
cerning the temperament of the humours of the hare and be 
connected with its well-known melancholy. See Melancholy . 

Brayn-wood as beestes, Langland, PPl, a, X, 61. 

As mad as a willock. — The willock is a bird, in some parts of 
England called the Foolish Cuillemot. "The same bird that 
'after shutting the door after him', presents the kitty with the 
fish he has reappeared with. This is not the action of an 
ill-mannered bird; nor have I seen anything wild in his de- 
meanor." Ed. Fitz Cerald, Wks, ii, 466, 1887, Folk Lore, 
XXXVII. See Foolish, Stupid; Aytgry. 

As mad as a coot. Skelton, Phylj'p Sparrowe, N. & O., 2, II, 447. 
Cf. No more wit than a coot. Bale, Kynge Johan, c. 1540, 
Hazlitt, and the epithet mad coot, which is also found in Skelton. 
The coot of this sim. is probably the same bird as the willock. 
See NED, coot, 2 b. See also Stupid, Angry. 

A body what never seed a opery before would swar they was 
every one either drunk or crazy as loons. Major Jones's 
Sketches of Travel, 1848. The old man'll run as crazy as a 
loon a-thinking 'bout his household affairs. Riley, Puddleford, 
1854. Thornton. — The long-drawn whistling call of the loon 
may have appeared uncanny to some people and thus given 
occasion to the sim. 

Hartford is getting to be quite a sensation city, going it over every 
novelty, "as crazy as a bed bug." Winstead Herald, 1861, 
Bartlett. This ungenteel simile is occasionally varied by calling 
the insect a "Kalamazoo bedbug." Thornton. — The word 
bed-bug dates from 1813. NED. 

How does Hamlet.? — Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend 
Which is the mightier. Shak., Hamlet, IV, i, 7. Cf. He was 
met even now As mad as the vex'd sea. Shak., KL, IV, iv, i. 



43 



Fond. 

As most of the following sim. are taken from EDD, 
where they are given without any context, their exact force 
and application can be known only to those who are intimately 
acquainted with English dialects. The word is rendered 'silly, 
foolish, daft,' and occasionally 'easily duped.' It is never- 
theless possible that there may be other connotations verging 
on other senses of the word. Fond :^ foolish, silly is obsolete 
in standard literary English from i6th c. Since then it has 
the connotation of credulous, sanguine. 

As fond as Fadge. Yks. EDD. "We had a saying to a person 
who acted fondly or foolishly, 'Thoo's as fond as Fadge 'at 
laid iz pooak doon ta fart.' 'Fadge is the name given to a 
mythical half-witted fellow, who was once sent by a nobleman 
with a live hare in a poke; nothing being handy to fasten 
the sack, he was cautioned to hold it tightly. All went well 
until he wanted to fart, when he laid the sack down, and so 
lost his hare." EDD s. v. fadge sb2, which otherwise means 
a short thick-set person. There are five other subst. fadge 
in EDD. 

As fond as the men of Belton 'at hing'd a sheap for stealing a 
man. Lin. 

As fond as the folks of Token. Cum. — The people of Brampton 
(in Cum. not far from the old Roman wall N. E. of Carlisle.) 
assert that the fir.st coach that passed through Token was 
followed by a crowd of its inhabitants in order to see the big 
wheels catch the little ones. Denham Tracts, 1892; Wright, 
RS. This is a pure Gothamite story. 

But I am weaker than a woman's tear, /Tamer than sleep, fonder 
than ignorance,/ Less valiant than the virgin in the night,/ 
And skilless as unpractised infancy. Shak., TC, I, i, 9. In 
this case 'fond' refers to one who is tender and inexperienced. 

As fond as Dick's hatband, at went roond his hat nahn tahms, 
an then wadn't tee. Nicholson, Folk-Speech, Yks. For further 
notes on Dick's hatband see Ill-tempered, Obstinate. 

As fond as any farden can'le. Yks. — 'Farthing-candle' is a term 
sometimes used to denote things of inferior value or quality : 
— Not so much as the light of a farthing-candle is to the light 
of the sun. 1673, NED. The farthing-candle style of notes. 
1848, NED. 

He's as fond as a besom. Dur. Yks. Lin.; fondas-a-buzzom. N. 
Cy; as font as a buzzom. Nhb. 'Besom-head' is another term 
for a blockhead, whence besom-headed. 'He's as fond as a 
bezom,' or 'bezom-headed.' very foolish indeed. Atkinson, 
Whitby Gloss., 1864, NED. See also Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. 
''A very common simile." Wright, RS, 79. 



— 44 — 

He's as fond as a brush. Uur. — In daily use. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 241. 

As fond as a yett. Nhb. As fond as a yat. Yks. — The folly 
of a gate is admitted on all hands; does it not without any 
reason bang itself against the gate-post.? Blakeborough, NRY, 
242. — 'As fond as a yat' is a common saying to or of a 
person who does anything against his personal interests. EDD. 

She is as fond as a cart about him. Yks. Cf. As drunk as a 
wheelbarrow. 

As fond as a billy-goat. Yks. Billy-goat is a familiar term for 
a male goat, rec. from 1861. NED. 

As fond as a horn. — Easily duped. Yks. CT. The cp. sim. 
horn-mad. 

Foolish, Stupid. 

A preest without a letter, 

Without his vertue be gretter, 

Doutlesse were moche better 

Vpon him for to take 

A mattocke or a rake. 

Alas for very shame! 

Some can not declyne their name; 

Some can not scarsly rede. 

And yet he wyll nat drede, 

For to kepe a cure, 

And in nothing is sure; 

This Dominiis vobiscum 

As wyse as Tom a thrum, 

A chaplayne of trust 

Layth all in the dust. Skelton, Colyn Clout, 277 iT. 

Here the MS has Jacke athrum. Cf. his Poems against Gar- 
nesche, ed. Dyce, I, 126, 

God sende you wele good spede, 
With Dominus vobiscum! 
Good Latyn for Jake a thrum, 
Tyll more martyr may cum. 

In his Magnyfycence Skelton mentions Jacke a Thrommys 
bybylle (I, 272) and also in his Garlande of Laurell (I, 370). 
Cf. also "And therto acordes too worthi prechers, Jacke a 
Throme and Jone Brest-Bale." Burlesques, Reliquiae antiquae, 
ed. Wright & Halliwell, i, 84. — Tom-a-Thrum is a sprite 
which figures in the fairy tales of the M. Ages. 'A queer- 
looking little auld man,' whose chief exploits were in the vaults 
and cellars of old castles, also called Thrummy Cap, which 
name is still current, l^rewer. Reader's Handbook, and EDD. 



— 45 — 

As knowing as Kate Mullet, and she was hanged for a fool. Wright, 
RS, 163. Mullet is otherwise a provincial term for a bird. 

As wise as the Dean of Dunstable. J. Taylor, Lean, II, ii. — 
See Plain, Ch. III. 

As wise as a man of Gotham, the men of Gotham. Ray, 1^'uller. 
As wise as the men of Gotham who built a wall about the 
wood to keep out the cuckoo. 

As wise as he who carried the coach-wheel on his back, when 
he might have trill'd it before him all along. Howell, Instr. 
For. Trav. p. 5, 164. Lean, II, ii. This is an instance of 
genuine Gothamite wisdom. 

The "wisdom" of the men of Gotham was proverbial at 
the time when the Towneley plays were written, c. 1460, and 
their village and themselves have been referred to practically 
ever since. Nashe and G. Harvey speak of them, and so do 
Taylor the Water-Poet, Dekker, and Bishop Hall &c. They 
are mentioned in the play "A Knack to Know a Knave" as 
also in an earlier play 'Misogonos' ; in 1643 there appeared 
a short political squib called "The Fool's Complaint to Gotham's 
CoUedge", and Poor Robin's Prognostication some fifty years 
later speaks of the same college, which is the alma mater of 
those who have passed their degree at Blocksford. In 1798 
we have a Brief Sketch of the Kingdom of Gotham, and in 
one of the Anti-Corn-Law tracts there are the following lines: 
— If fooleries of this kind go on, Gotham will be put into 
Schedule A, and the representation of Unreason transferred 
into the West Riding. &c. 

The Merry Tales of the Wise (or Mad) Men of Gotham 
were formed into a chap book as early as the beginning 
of the i6th c, attributed to Andrew Borde, the author of 
Boke of K?iotvledge, (Late ed. by Halliwell and Hazlitt), and 
Gothamite stories are still current, at least in Derbyshire (N. 
& Q., 10, vi, 137). 

The wisdom of the wise men of Gotham was of the kind 
that tries to drown an eel. Hence the proverb 'He's na eel- 
drowner mair than me'. Rxb. EDD. They also tried to hedge 
in the cuckoo, tumbled their cheeses down-hill to find their 
way to Nothingham market, and further the women being told 
to wet the meal before giving it to the pigs, threw it into 
the wells and the pigs after. Lean. Oral tradition also makes 
them boil their porridge in the whirlpool of a river, and their 
schoolmaster call a hedgehog, which he did not know, one of 
the animals Adam had not named, &c. 

Gotham is said to be the village of this name in Not- 
tinghamshire. "Nobody ever dreamt of disputing the location 
of the Gotham tales at the village half-a-dozen miles south of 
Nottingham untill well into the 19th c." A. Stapleton, N. & Q. 
10, VI, 85, and scarcely more than two generations ago the 



- 46 - 

village was visited by its Derbyshire neighbours who wanted 
to see the 'cuckoo bush' (N. & O.). But "the ancient town 
of Gotham, famous for the seven sages (or wise men) who are 
fabulously reported to live there in former ages" (Taylor, ST, 
12), is rather erratic. It is a cant name for the city of New- 
castle, and New York has been so styled at least from 1800. 
See Thornton, where numerous inst. are collected. Even London 
has been called Gotham, and the Londoners, Gothamites (N. 
& 0., II, IV, 25). "There are local Gothams, not unknown 
in Scotland." (N. & O., 3, II, 3). It has practically developed 
into some sort of apellative for a place whose inhabitants are 
thought to behave in a particularly stupid way. 

Many genuine Gothamite stories have been attached to 
other places. "The wise men of Madeley" (in Shropshire) 
hedged in the cuckoo, and the "wise folk of Lorbottle " tried 
to build it in, and so did the people of Borrowdale in Cumber- 
land (Lean), and their worthy brethren of Coggeshall chained 
up the wheelbarrow when the mad dog bit it (N. & Q.) to 
mention only one of their well-known 'jobs', and some of the 
stupidities later charged home to the Gothamites were originally 
localized in Norfolk (Halliwell). Many of them are not even 
indisputably English. There are parallels or exactly similar 
stories in many other countries. The eel-drowning episode is 
told in the same way in the south of Sweden, and the men 
of Auteuil, a French Gotham, punished a sacrilegious mole 
by burying it alive (Charles Beauquier, Blason Populaire de 
Franche Conte, 1897; for other French Gothamite stories see 
the French magazine Melusine, Vols ii — iv), and the ScJiild- 
biirger and Thddener of the Germans are guilty of the same 
or similar deeds as the Gothamites in England and Telje tokar 
in Sweden. On inspection, many of the "merry tales" appear 
to be common European and Indo-Germanic. "The prototypes 
of — or at least, parallels to — most European tales of the 
Gothamite class have been discovered, within quite recent 
years, in the Jak-Jatakas and other Buddhist works." Clouston, 
PTF, i, 65. — After all, Churchill is right when he .says in 
his Poem 'Gotham': — 

P'ar off (no matter whether east or west, 
A real country, or one made in jest) 
Not yet by modern Mandevilles displaced, 
Nor by map-jobbers wretchedly misplaced. 
There lies an island, neither great nor small. 
Which, for distinction's sake, I Gotham call. 

But the real question before us is this. Why was the proverbial 
Little Witham called Gotham, and why were these inter- 
national stories, on becoming current and receiving local addi- 
tions by traditions and 'lateral ditTusion,' associated with the 



— 47 — 

name of an obscure Nottingham village? Hazlitt says on the 
subject, 'Any other provincial town might have been selected, 
with about equal justice and propriety, as all such places are 
principally remarkable for their ignorance and barbarism.' In 
his introduction to the Merry Tales &c. Halliwell says, 'It is 
a work of the utmost difficulty to trace, with any certainty, 
the origin of these traditions, often as positive as they are 
fanciful, which assign general properties to the inhabitants of 
certain localities, and which often last for ages, continually 
deriving additional strength from increasing antiquity. Such 
traditions are sometimes the result of near observation and 
experience, obtained after the lapse of a long period, and 
generally elicited by foes, and they are frequently merely the 
offspring of chance and uncertain fancy. 

The general characters which nations have obtained in 
various ages are examples of the former. The attribute of 
folly and stupidity to the men of Gotham ... is one of the 
most remarkable instances of the other.' — But chance and 
fancy are scarcely sufficient to explain .... Halliwell goes 
on to tell a tradition how the Gothamites first became pro- 
verbial for their stupidity, but it is clearly of later origin, in- 
vented to explain the tales. 

(See N. & Q., i, II; 9, III, V; 10. V; 10, VI, and A. 
Stapleton, All about the Merry Tales of Gotham, 1900). 
As wise as the Mayor of Banbury, who would prove that Henry 
III was before Henry II. Howell; Cf. Like the mad Mayor 
of Gantick, who was wise for one day and then died of it 
Cornwall saying. The mayor of Stockton town and the mayor 
of Hartlepule, the first a silly young fellow, the second's an 
awde fule. Lean. — Banbury is one of the many places on 
which contempt has been poured, rightly or wrongly. Already 
Latimer speaks of Baribury Glosses (see his Wks, ed. Parker 
Soc. ii, 299), and Banbury stories are not worth listening to. 
It is not only the Mayor that is noted for his ignorance and 
stupidity, as is witnessed by the proverb 'Like Banbury tinkers 
that in mending one hole make three.' Fuller. (Cf. You have 
mended it, as a tinker mends a kettle; stop one hole, and 
make two. Swift, PC, 261. "When I was young it was 
proverb in East Cornwall that the tinkers repaired one hole 
and made two." N. & Q., 4, IX, 375). "Banbury was noted 
for Puritanism, famous for twanging ale, zeal, cakes, and cheese." 
Braithwait, Strappado, 161 5, Lean. It is probably the severe 
Puritanism of its inhabitants that brought the charge of foolish- 
ness on the town. They are reported to have hanged a cat 
on a Monday for catching a mouse on a Sunday, which may 
be regarded as an evidence of the connection between Puritanism 
and foolishness. 



- 48 - 

As much wit as three folks, two fools, and a madman. Chs. 
Hazlitt. 

. . . his brain. Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit/ After a 
a voyage. Shak., AYL, II, vii, 38. Cf. the term biscuit- 
brained, NED. 

They say Poins has good wit. — He a good wit.^ Hang him, 
baboon! his wit is as thick as Tewkesbury mustard. Shak., 
KH IVb, II, iv, 224. See Clever. 

As soft as one's pocket. Lan. Wor. Foolish, empty-headed. EDD. 
This sense of soft is rec. in standard lit. English from 162 1. 

As wise as a gooce, or as wise as her mothers aperen string. 
Udall, 1542, NED. — The reference is probabi}' to those who 
are unable to work or judge without the directions of others. 

Sharp as the corner of a round table. Slang, Common. — Rare; 
used of one who cannot see a joke. U. 

As daft as a door-nail. Vks. Folk-Lore, XL\\ 429. EDD. See 
Dead, Ch. II. 

He hath in his head/ As much brain as a burboit. Udali, RRD, 
38; Cooper has the note, A birdbok, a short, thick arrow, 
with a blunt head, chiefly made use of to kill rooks. It appears 
to have been looked upon as a symbol of dullness. So in 
Marston's 'What you Will', 1607, "Ignorance should shoot/ 
His gross-knobbed bird-bolt." 

His brain is as toom as a barrel. — Occasionally heard in Sc, 
N. & Q., 3, XI, 511. Maa heed is teum, nee wit is in. Nhb., 
and cf. toom-brained. 

As stupid as a post. Robinson, Handful of Pleasant Delights, 
1584, Lean, II, ii. The fellow, stupid as a post,/ Believ'd in 
thruth it was a ghost! 18 16, NED. See Deaf. Ch. II. 

They are as stupid as Blocks, 1678, NED. See Deaf, Ch. II, and 
cf. blockish, blockishly ignorant &c. 

To have no more skill than a dog. Tarlton, Jests, p. 39, 1611, 
Lean, II, ii. 

{Stupid monks) As wyse as Waltom's calfe. 
Must preche a Goddes halfe 
In the pulpit solempnely. Skelton, Colyn Clout, 

811, ed. Dyce. 
Ye will me to a thanklesse office heere. 
And a busy officer I may appeere. 
And Jack out of office she may bid me waike 
And think me as wise as Waltam's calf to talke 
Or chat of her charge, havying therein nought to doo. 

Heywood, PE, 58. 
Some running and gadding calves, wiser than Waltham's calves 
that ranne nine miles to suck a bull, for these runne above 
nine hundred miles. Disclosing of the great Bull, 1567, Slang. 
As wise as Waltham's calf, that went nine miles to suck a 



— 49 — 

bull and came /home?/ athirst. Mercurius Melancholicus, Sept. 
1647, N. & Q., 6, V, 136. 

As wise as Waltham's calf who went nine miles to suck a 
bull and came back more thirsty than he went. Howell, Lean. 
She is wise as Waltham's calf,/ Yet may suck a bull till she 
leeves but Half J. Davies, Epigr. 366, p. 177, 1614, Lean, 
II, ii. 

As wise as Walton's calf — /he/ is fain to return home more 
fool than he came for spending of horsemeat. Arth. Hall, 
Admonition to F. A., 1576, Lean. — Cf also the following 
proverbial sayings: — For Waltham's calves to Tyburne needs 
must go/ To suck a bull and meete a butcher's axe. The 
Brainless Blessing of the Bull, c. 1571, N. & O., 6, V, 136. 
And furthermore, whosoever went to Rome, were it for never 
so ghostly and godly a purpose to obtaine the bishop's bulles, 
if he did bring no money with him he might return home 
Like a calf. A. Borde, Abuse of Rome, c. 1550, Lean, II, ii. 
Who goth a myle to sucke a bull. Comes home a fole, and 
yet not full. Barnes, In the Defence of the Berde, 1542, EETS, 
Extra S., 10, 314. He went all the way to suck a bull a-dry. 
Berkshire, of a sleeveless errand. Hazlitt. 
As wise as Watton's calf. Clarke, Lean, II, ii. 
As wise as Wudsie's calf that ken't milk frae water. Hislop, 
1862. Lean, II, ii. 

At last his brother thought of me, and said unto him, that 
he would bring a man unto him, that was neither doctor, nor 
Apothecary; then he began to hearken a little, but what was 
I then? An alchymist (which he understood as well as Walt- 
ham's calf). R. Mathews, Unlearned Alchymist, 1662, N. & Q., 
5, V, 199. 

Essex calves the proverb praiseth, and some are of the 
mind that Waltome calf was also that countryman. Buttes, 
Dyet's Dry Dinner, i, 1599, Lean. 'This is a proverb which 
belongs exclusively to Essex, but is frequently applied to other 
places of the nam.e of Waltham, in Berkshire and elsewhere.' 
Piatt, N. & Q., 6, V, 136. Lean says of this proverb, N. & Q., 
5, X, 10. 'Here the addition is a perversion of the original 
meaning, which is a fling at the monks for their foolish preach- 
ing. The calf may have belonged to Waltham Abbey; or 
can the miraculous image there have been in view?' — Further 
information required to settle the question. Cf. You great 
calf, ye should have more wit, so ye should. Udall, RRD, 
1553- You silly, doting, brainless calf, 1627, NED. 

As wise as John of Gotecham's calf. Rowlands, Pair of Spy Knaves, 
1619. Lean, II, ii. See above. 

The panic fear which is bred of ignorance and which afflicts the 
city-reared, making them as silly as silly horses. London, 
LL, 154. 

4 



— 50 — 

As wyse as a greathedded Asse of Alexander. Thomas More, i 
Lady Fortune, Prologue. — Ass generic for stupidity and 
ignorance since the time of the Greeks. Hence in many pro- 
verbial expressions, but chiefly since 1500; the early references 
to the animal being mostly Scriptural, with no depreciatory 
associations. NED. But cf. Mannkinn . . . skillaes swa summ 
asse. Orm., 1200, NED. 

As wise as my mother's sow. Marriage of Wit and Wisdom, p. 16, 
Lean, II, ii. 

I dare with any man forty pence To make him shortly as wise 
as an ape. W. Wager, The Longer thou Livest, C. iii, c. 
1568. Lean. 

As foolish as monkies till twenty or more, 
As bold as lions till forty and four; 
As cunning as foxes till three score and ten; 
Then they become asses or something — not men. Harland 
& Wilkinson, Lancashire Legends, 1873, 188, Northall, FR,. 
495. Cf. Less human genius than God gives an ape. Pope, 
Dunciad, I, 282; and the expressions, to make anyone his ape 
= to befool him; God's ape = a natural born fool, ape 
reasons =1^ foolish reasons, and the adj. apish. — The ape is 
chiefly regarded as a stupid animal, it would seem, but the 
monkey may be cunning and 'fause.' See Clever. In this 
case probably the deftness of the animal has given rise to 
the sim. 

As wise as a hare. Skelton, Elynor Rummin, Lean, II, ii. Ironical, 
see Mad. 

When the little evil spirit misses my voice, he will come and tumble 
you out of your hammocks, and make you dream of ghosts 
every night, till you grow as thin as blow-guns, and as stupid 
as ayeayes! Kingsle)^ WH, 366. — The aye-aye is a squirrel- 
like quadruped found only in Madagascar. The phrase is most 
likely of Kingsley's coinage. 

(You haven't got the sense God gave a rooster. White, BT, 326. 
Rooster is a chiefly American word for the cock, rec. in 
Thornton from 1806.) 

As wise as a goose on Bedlam Green. Beaumont & Fletcher, 
Prophetess, Lean, II, ii. And that which is the mischief of 
it too, is to see the Codled fool take upon him in that tune 
/of drunkenness/ and exercise his husbandly authority like a 
Mayor of Quecnborow, and with as much discretion . . . nod- 
ding out his commands with less wit than a gander on a 
green. Trenchfield, Cap of Grey Hairs &c. 1678, Lean. 
He has na more sense than a May gosling. W. Rye, Norf. 
Ant. Misc., i, 308, Lean. Cf. Mad as May-butter, Weak as 
a midsummer gosling. — A foolish, inexperienced person has 
been called a gosling since Shakespeare's time. 
As wise as a sucking gully. Jackson & Burne, 395. The 



— 51 — 

gully is a gosling. The word is rec. nowhere else, it would 
seem. 

As silly as a gull. Northall, FPh, ii. Gull, an unfledged 
gosling. The word is known from Wyclif, and is now used 
chiefly in some midl. and s. e. dialects. 
As wise as a goose. Udall, Er. Ap., ii8, Lean, II, ii. 
As witty as the goose, Hickscorner, /Hazlitt, Old Plays, i, 184/. 
Davies, The Scourge of Folly, 16 14, Lean, II, ii. 
As dizzy as a goose. Clarke. — This is probably a dial, 
saying. In the dial, this adj. means foolish, stupid, half-witted. 
But cf. I ha'n't slept to-night, for thinking of plots to plague 
Doricourt; . . . they drove one another out of my head so 
quick that I was as giddy as a goose and could make nothing 
of 'em. 1780, NED. 

As silly as a goose. Northall, FPh, ii. 
As daft as a goose. Yks. EDD. 

Ye men schul ben as lewed as gees. Chaucer, MeT, 103 1. NED. 
Doctour Pomaunder As wise as a gander Wotes not wher to 
wander. Skelton, 1529, NED. That goose that still about 
will wander . . . Shall home come again as wise as a gander. 
Barclay, 1509, NED. — The goose and the gander are fre- 
quently put together in alliterative expressions. See Willert, 
where there are inst. from Byron, Dickens, Thackeray &c. 
Proverbial stories about the goose that went abroad but returned 
as stupid as before are current in Sweden and Germany and 
probably other countries as well. Cf. also 'For all your labour 
and gostely intent Ye will come home as wise as ye wente. 
Heyvood, Four P's, 1569, Lean, II, ii. Get you gone, and 
come home as wise as you went (like a woodcock. I had 
like to say) Vinegar & Mu. 2. There are similar phrases in 
Becon, 1564, Cawdray, c. 1600, and in G. Harvey &c. Lean, 

11, ii. Fora swijn til Rijn, dhet blijr anda swijn, Grubb, Ord- 
seder, 232, is an old Swedish proverb meaning the same thing. 
Hee hath no more wit in his pates, then the arrantest Gander 
at Goose fayre. (Morgan, the Welshman) VVV, 24. 

But in these nice sharp quillets of the law/ Good faith, I am no 
wiser than a daw. Shak., KH Via, II, iv, 17. Trial of Treasure, 
Hazlitt, Old Plays, iii, 2, 1567, Lean, II, ii. — Z^^w is a Lin. 
term for a silly chattering person. In standard English 1500 
— 1608. 

Master would be crafty as an old fox if he weren't stupid as an 
owl. Baring-Gould, BS, 262. Zo stupid's an owl. Hewett, Dev. 

12. Lean, II, ii. This is probably the day aspect of the 
ancient bird of wisdom. Does the Yks. phrase 'as wise as 
t'ullot' refer to the night o'^U CL the adj. owlish = stupid &c. 

Lusty like a herring, with a bell about his neck, wise as a wood- 
cock: as brag as a body-louse. Marriage of Wit and Science, 
II, i, Notes, 410. He clamb up into a thistle tree and cut 



— 52 — 

clown an hasyll twygge and broke his head till it was whole, 
and when he came home, he was as wise as a woodcock. 
Melbancke, Philotimus, L. 3, 1583, Lean IV. Hazlitt has inst. 
from 1520, 1563, 1575, and Lean from Withals, 1586. Although 
no later inst. of the sim. itself have been found, there are 
numerous subsequent allusions to the stupidity of this bird. 
Nashe, Shakespeare, Dekker, Ford, Buttler, Swift refer to it 
or the springes with which it is so easily caught. 

"A woodcock without brains in it." Ford, LM, 19. 'The 
woodcock was supposed to have no brains; hence its name, 
says Harting, became a synonym for a fool. This is mentioned 
by Willoughby in his "Ornithology" (iii, i, § i), who, however, 
gives no reason for the bird's ill repute. Among us in Eng- 
land, this bird is infamous for its simplicity or folly; so that 
a woodcock is proverbially used for a simple foolish person.' 
Swainson, BB, 190. 

.... Which void of wisdom presumeth to indite/ Though they 
have scantly the cunning of a snite. Barclay, Eel. \v, ante 
1530, Lean, II, ii. Cf. The snite need not the woodcock 
betwite. Ray. 1678, which means that the poke is no better 
than the sack! 

Mad (= silly) as a willock. Suffolk saying. 'The willock or com- 
mon guillemot is in some parts of England termed the foolish 
g., from the indifference it shows, in the breeding season, to 
the approach of man. Cf. the French proverb "Bete comma 
un guillemot".' Swainson, BB, 217. 

As stupid as a coot. NED. No inst. given. A common English 
provincialism. Slang; Cowan, PS. See Mad. Coot is used 
fig. for a simpleton, chiefly dial, and U. S. It is rec. in 
Thornton from 1794. 

As stupid as an auk. North Country. Cowan, PS, 37. Auk is 
the name of several northern diving and swimming birds, e. g. 
the guillemots. — Where the bird is unknown, the ox is 
substituted for it easily in the simile. Cowan, PS, 37. No 
such sim. with ox has elsewhere been found. 

Silly as a toad. Soft as a toad. Said of a foolish body, who 
may be styled a 'soft toad.' N. & Q. 9. VIII, 516. Cf. He- 
is as stupid and as venomous as a hunchback'd toad. Pope, 
Dune, I, 106. See Obstinate, Ill-tempered; Antipathy, Ch. IV. 

As witty as a haddock. Hyckescorner, 1520, Hazlitt. See Deaf. 

He is sillier than a crab, that has all his brains in his belly. Hazlitt. 

As silly as a mawk. Cum. EDD. See Fat, Ch. II. 

As wise as a wisp. Hewood, Clarke; Lin. 1776, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 

4ir. 

As wise as a wisp, or a woodcock. Ray. 



3J 



Dull. 

In the following sim. dull seems to mean: stupidly slow 
of understanding and action, listless and depressed. 

As dull as the devil. Wilson, Belphegor, i, 1691, Lean, II, ii. — 
This is not the way the devil is looked upon in other sim. 
But see Ch. V. 

As dull as a Dutchman. CI. H. &c. Not known to Ray or Bohn. 
An echo of the long-standing hatred between the English and 
the Dutch. See Drunk, Ch. II. 

As dull as an alderman at church, or a fat lap-dog after dinner. 
Holcroft, Duplicity, I, i, 1834, Lean, II, ii. For fear of growing 
more dull in this thick aldermanic air. Wilkes, 1770, NED. 
Quite as dull in their aldermanic way. Hawthorne, 1870, NED. 
— Aldermanic feasts are looked upon as being duller than 
most other forms of collective eating. Cf. However greedy 
the appetite for wonder may be ... it is as easily satiated 
as any other appetite, and then leaves the senses of its pos- 
sessor as dull as those of a city gourmand after a Lord 
Mayor's feast. Kingsley, WH, 350. Cf. also 'an alderman's 
pace'. 

As dull as a whetstone. R. Heath, Epigr. 1650. Lean, II, ii. — 
Does this refer to the form or colour of a whetstone.^ One 
is rather accustomed to associate it with sharp-witted lying. 
Cf. I thought it not the worst traffic to sell whetstones. This 
whetstone . . . will set with an edge upon your inventions, 
that it will make your rusty iron brains purer metal than your 
brazen faces. Whet but the knife of your capacities on this 
whetstone, and you may presume to dine at the Muses' or- 
dinarie . . . Randolph, 1634. Slang. 

My hart as dull as lead. Songs, 89. — As dull as a pig of lead. 
Help to Discourse, 125, 1636, Lean, II, ii. 
When he woke, his brain was heavy as lead. Gissing, HC, 122. 

Tendre wyttes ... be made as dull as a betell. Whittinton, 1520, 
NED. Ray. ... to have been as dull as a beetle. Richardson, 
P, I, 261. Cf. Our faculty to understand is still left .... we 
are no meere blockes and beetles. Rogers, 1642, NED. The 
wooden instrument. See Deaf, Dumb, Blind, Ch. II. 

Till you grow tender as a chick/ I'm dull as any post. Gay, NS. 
See Deaf. 

As dull as dun in the mire. Ray. Du7is in the mire is a pro- 
verbial phrase alluded to already by Chaucer, and see Fletcher, 
Woman-hater, IV, 2, Shak., RJ, I, iv, 41, Butler, H, III, iii, 
no. Duns in the mire, or To draw Dun out of the mire 
was a rural pastime described by Gifford (see Foster). But 
does the sim. refer to the game itself, looking upon it as one 



— 54 — 

of the dullest things imaginable? This cannot be the case, 
as Gifford says that he has seen "much honest mirth at it." 
Hazlilt writes: "Conip. Halliwell in v. From the colour of a 
horse it would not be easily distinguishable." The real drift 
of these words is not "easily distinguishable", but it would 
seem that according to H. the dullness refers to the colour 
of the horse. But perhaps it is simply an allusion to the log 
that represents Dun, and might be rendered 'as dull as a 
block.' Further information required. 

I am as lewed and dull as is an asse. Occleve, 1420, NED. See 
Stupid. 

As dull as a bachelor beaver. Bartlett, Lean, II, ii. See Busy. 

The Toawd is as dull as a Dormouse. 1709, NED. As dull as 
a dormouse at home, but a vary toun Bull abroad. 1 709, 
NED. See Sleep Ch. II. 

As dull as a full-crammed capon. R. Heath, Epigr., p. 4, 1650, 
Lean, II, ii. The capon sometimes figures as a type of dull- 
ness. Cf. Some /men/ are capones by kinde, and so blunt by 
nature, that no art at all can whet them. Wil.son, 1551, NED. 

And there you stand as dull as a fish. Bridges, 1889, NED. See 
Mute, Dnmk, Ch. II. 

Come, come, Mrs. Muse, we can't part in this way,/ Or you'll 
leave me as dull as ditch-water all day. Barham, IL, 456. 
Warren, Ten Thousand a Year, 1841, Cowan, PS, 33. Dickens, 
Little Dorrit, IV, 252, Mutual Friend, III, 174. H; W, where 
further inst. are found. The people are as dull as ditchwater. 
Maxwell, 1844, NED. I find them dull as ditchwater. Travers, 
1893, NED. Critics . . . called them Pharisees, as dull as 
ditchwater. Galsworthy, IP, xi. See Proud. 
As dull as ditchwater or stale small beer. Quoted N. & Q. 
8, VIII, 129. 

She told me, not thinking I had been myself, that I was the 
princes jester; that I was duller than a great thaw. Shak., 
MA, II, i, 216. 

The motions of his spirit are dull as night. Shak., MV, V, i, 86. 



Melancholy, Gloomy. 

As melancholy as the Man in the Moon. NED, 1609. — For the 
Man in the moon see Ignoimice, Ch. IV. Cf. also 'as mad 
as the man in the moon.' The moon's influence on mind 
and body has already been dealt with under Mad. The fol- 
lowing lines may be added: Selon La Martiniere, "cette planete 
lunaire est humide de soy, mais par I'irradiation du soleil, est 
de divers temperaments. Comme en son premier quadrat elle 
est chaude et humide, auquel temps il fait bon saigner les 



— 55 — 

sanguins; .... et en son quatrieme elle est froide et seche; 
auquel temps il est bon de saigner les melancholiques. &c." 
Larousse. 

As joyful as the back of a gravestone. Northall, FPh, 9. 

The boy remained as dismal as a hearse. Twain, TS, 99. This 
of course refers to the car that carries the coffin. 

. . . looking as cheerful as an undertaker at his post of duty. 
Harrison, A, 159. Professionally the undertaker may be of 
subdued manners and a doleful countenance, but privately 
"your undertakers are the merriest fellows in the world," if 
we are to believe Dickens, PP, II, 42. 

. . . as sadly as mutes at a funeral. Gaskell. — The mutes as 
professional mourners are spoken of from 1762. 

As melancholy as a Quaker meeting-house by night. Barlett, 
Lean, II, ii. 

, . . what senceless thing in all the house that is not now as melan- 
choly as a new set-vp Schoolmaster. Dekker, SM, 9. — One 
does not wonder at Dekker's schoolmaster being a little melan- 
choly, as we find that at a much later date 'the sum com- 
monly paid to a schoolmaster in Peshawer is about fifteen 
pence a month.' NED, 181 5, s. v. schoolmaster. 

The girls, in dreadful lowness of spirits, and feeling as flat as so 
many pancakes, returned to their houses. Besant & Rice, AS, 
157. Cf "flat as a pancake" Ch. III. F/at = depressed, 
out of spirits rec. from 1602. NED. 

I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits, till I were as 
crestfallen as a dried pear. Shak., MW, IV, v, 91. 

Why, how now, humorous George? What, as melancholy as a 
mantle tree. 1606, NED. Old Grandsir Thickskin, you that 
sit there as melancholy as a mantletree. NED, 1606. — What 
is there melancholy about a mantle or mantel-tree.?' There is 
of course the alliteration, and then the mantel-tree is likely to 
be black, i. e. melan (fisXav). 

, . . our faces will be as long as clock-cases all day. Hardy, W, 
438. The word clock-case is rec. from 1761, NED. 

You look as long-favoured as a fiddle. Hardy, UGT, yS, 1872. 
Her face as long as a fiddle. Hardy, TT, 135, 1882. . . . said 
J. with a face as long as a fiddle. Caine, D, xxvi, 1887. 
. . . the cook comes up to me pulling a face as long as a 
fiddle. Jacobs, MC, 10, 1896. This sim. does not seem to 
be very old. It is not known to Lean or Hazlitt. NED 
mentions it but without giving any instances, and renders it 
'to look dismal.' But fiddle-faced, of a long, unhappy-looking 
face, goes back to 1785. 

Falsi. I am as melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear. Pritice. 
Or an old lion or a lover's lute. Falsi. Yea, or the drone 
of a Lincolnshire bagpipe. Prince, What sayest thou to a 
hare, or the melancholy of Moorditch.? Falsi. Thou hast the 



- 56 - 

most unsavoury similes. Shak., KH IVa, I, ii, 71. "As melan- 
choly as the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe" does not seem 
to have become a proverbial sim., no other inst. of it hav- 
ing been found. It has been suggested that 'the drone of a 
Lincolnshire bagpipe' refers to the croaking of frogs. It is 
true that frogs and toads have been styled Lincolnshire bag- 
pipes (see Lean, and N. & Q., 5, IV, 368). But on the other 
hand we read in Armin's Nest of Ninnies, 1608, p. 9 (Shakesp. 
Soc.) : — "Amongst all the pleasures prouided, a noyse of 
minstrells and a Lincolnshire bagpipe was prepared — the 
minstrells for the great chamber, the bagpipe for the hall — 
the minstrells to serve up the knight's meate, and the bagpipe 
for the common dauncing." (N. & Q., 8, III, 13). Drayton 
also speaks of bells and bagpipes as belonging to Lincoln- 
shire, which shows that of old the county was famous for this 
musical instrument. There is nothing in the context to make 
any other interpretation necessary or probable. 

As melancholy as an unbraced drum. Centlivre, The Wonder, 
1714, Lean II, ii. 

I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in warren. Shak., MA. 
This is a reference to Isaiah, i, 8 : "The daughter of Zion is 
left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of 
cucumbers." This seems to be a well-known passage to judge 
from the following quotation: — "Go thy ways home, Tre- 
garthen; go thy ways home, and teach yourself that all this 
world and the kingdoms thereof be but what the mind o' man 
makes 'em, and Saaron itself but a warren for rabbits." Tre- 
garthen shook his head. "A barren rock! Come now, bring 
your mind to it!" Cai suggested, coaxing. " 'Tis no good, 
Cai." — "A cottage in a vineyard; what says holy Isaiah .f' 
A lodge in a garden of cucumbers — a besieged city — " 
"Q", MV, 173. 

As melancholy as Fleet street in the Long Vacation. Dekker, 
Northward Ho! NED. 

The dice of late are growen as melancholy as a dog. Nashe, II, 
218. Cf. the term 'a sad dog', and see Mad, and Sick, Ch. II. 

As melancholy as Gibbe, our cat. Chaucer, R. of Rose. P. Plowman Vis. 
As melancholy as a gib'd cat. Ray; Walker, Paroem. 
I am as melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear. Shak., 
KH IVa, I, ii, 71. 

Melancholy as a gib-cat over his counter all the forenoon. 
Lambe, 1820, NED. W. Irving also speaks of the melancholy 
of a gibbed cat. 1824, NED. Common proverbial phrase. 
Still in use at the present time. Nhp. EDD. Gib is the 
contraction of Gilbert, a name formerly given to the male cat, 
as Tom is now. On the meaning of gib'd (gibed, gibbed) 
see NP:D. 
I am as melancholy as a cat. Lyiy, 1592, NED. 



— 57 — 

"Who is that?" said Fido. — "One as melancholy as a cat." 
MM, 39, 1609 /said of a disappointed lover/. Gayton, Art of 
Longevity, xxii, 1659, Lean, II, ii; Gay, NS. No later inst. found. 
— "The common or vulgar cat is a creature well known, and 
being young it is very wanton and sportful: but waxing older 
is very sad and melancholy." Speculum Mundi, Hulme, NH, 
194. But this melancholy has probably less to do with age 
than with season. The caterwaul in early spring is more than 
sufficient to explain the origin of the sim. On the connection 
between heat, especially when spent, and melancholy, see 
below. 

As melancholy as a collier's horse. Return from the Parnassus. 
IV, i, 1606, Lean, II, ii. This perhaps refers to the melan- 
choly colour of all that belongs to collieries. 

As pensive as a stallion after coitum. Chapman, Revenge for 
Honour, I, i. Cf. Donzel, methinks you look melancholic, 
After your coitum, and scurvy. Jonson, Alch., IV, iv, 584. 
Fletcher has the same ungraceful sim. Oimie ariinial post coitum 
triste. Withals, 16 16. Lean. 

What's up with you.f^ asked Dennant; you look as glum as any 
m-monkey. Galsworthy, IP, 70; 'glum' is rec. from the middle 
of the 1 6th c. It is hard to see what there is glum or gloomy 
about a monkey. A monkey is a term of playful contempt 
for a youngster who is just the opposite of sad or melancholy, 
and a person who performs comical antics is given the same 
name. But cf. 'Mutianus tells us that when the moon is on 
the wane the monkeys are sad, but they adore the new moon 
with the liveliest manifestations of delight.' Hulme, NH, 136. 

As melancholy as a lugg'd bear. Shak., KH IVa, I, ii. The lugged 
or baited bear occurs in other proverbial sim., see Cross, and 
cf. A gracious aged man. Whose reverence even the head- 
lugg'd bear would lick. Shak., KL, IV, ii, 42. 

As melancholy as a hare. Shak., KH IVa, I, ii, 75. Webster, 
White Devil, i, 1612, Lean, II, ii. 

As glum as a hare. Gayton, Art of Longevity, xvii, 1659, 
Lean, II, ii. Cf. Madam, \^\\\ your ladyship have any of this 
hare.?* — No, madam,, they say 'tis melancholy meat. Swift, 
PC, 278. 

There is a good deal of folklore in these words. Why 
is the hare looked upon as melancholy? Andrew Boorde gives 
us an explanation "Tymorosyte doth brynge in melancoly 
humors." Consequently, being a timorous beast above all 
others the hare must be especially melancholy. "The byble 
sayth the hare is an vnclene beeste, and physycke sayeth hares 
flesshe is dry, and doth ingender melancholy humors." Boorde, 
EETS, e. s., 10, 275. "Hare, a black meat, melancholy and 
hard of digestion; it breeds incubus, often eaten, and causeth 
fearful dreams" Burton, AM, I, 250. As it was firmly believed 



- 58 - 

that those who partook of the flesh of any animal thereby partook 
also of its nature, the flesh of the hare was avoided. (Hulme, 
NH, 1 66). And the prejudice against it does not seem to have 
died out. "It is widel)* spread throughout the county /Dorset/ 
at the present day." N. & O., II, VIII, 346. "The rustic's 
refusal now-a-days in the West of England is: — 'Ise never 
eat hallow fowl,' under which term he includes hare's and 
rabbits as well as wild fowl." G. T. Manning, Rural Rhymes, 
1837, Introduction, Lean. This goes back to very ancient 
times. Already in Ceesar's De Bello Gallico, V, 12, we read: 
— Leporein et gallmain et a7iseyem gustare fas no7i putant, 
which may have had something to do with its being made 
use of for the purpose of divination. And down through the 
ages it has been a "beast of evil meeting", and is perhaps 
so still. This may also be connected in some way with the 
well-known superstition that witches change themselves into 
hares. (N. & 0., ii. VIII, 346). The Scriptural words of 
the hare as unclean (Levit. ii, 6) must have helped to fix 
the aversion to hare's flesh in the minds of a superstitious 
people. But on the other hand: — Siimpto in cibis leporc 
vulgns gratiam cor pari in septeni dies fieri arbitratur, frivolo 
quidein joco, an tame?i aliqua debeat subesse causa in tanta 
persuasione. Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXVIII, 79. But the idea of 
the hare's flesh procuring seven days' beauty is probably not 
indigenous to Great Britain. 

So Dan said nothing about the debt, and went back to the fisher- 
fellows with a face as long as a haddock's. Caine, D, xv. 
See Laughing, Deaf, Ch. II. 

As hevy as a sod I grete with myn eene. Towneley Myst. 

Young gentlemen would be as sad as night/ Only for wantonness. 
Shak., KJ, IV, i, 15. Cf. "Melancholy! is melancholy a word 
for a barber's mouth .f" Thou shouldst say heavy, dull, and 
doltish; melancholy is the crest of courtiers, and now every 
base companion . . . says he is melancholy." Lyly, Midas. Things 
have changed. Melancholy is fashionable no more, and nearly 
all the sim. containing the adj. are obsolete. 
His countenance was black as night. Martineau, 1832, NED. 
He remained silent and looked as black as night. Benecke, 
PA, 93. Cf. also: It /a prospective marriage/ is as gloomy 
as midnight. Hardy, HE, 380. 

A face as gloomy as a thunderstorm. Hardy, RN, 53. 

H. /was/ as gloomy as a thundercloud. Hardy, Lao, 153. 
As glum as thunder-cloud. Cleveland Gloss. 
There stood the Queen . . . frowning like a thunderstorm. 
NED, 1865. 

Old Billy looked as black as thunder. Caine, D., xv. Cop- 
ping, GG, yy, Doyle, Lean &c. See Ill-tempered. 



59 



Grave, Stiff. 

As grand as doomsday and as grave. Tennyson, see W. 

Jim, what's the matter with thee? Thee's look so solid's old Time. 
W. Som. Gloss. 693. Whad's the matter, Maister? — yo' 
looken as solid as owd times. Sh. EDD. grave, depressed. 
'As solid as old times.' Northall, FPh. See Cool, Quiet, Steady. 

As stiff as Tommy Harrison. — A popular phrase. N & Q 7 
VIII, 368. 

As grave and formal in my gate as a Spanish don or the reader 
of a parish marching in front of a funeral. Cotton, Scarronides, 
Pref., 1670, Lean, II, ii. 

As grave as a judge. Poor Robin, 1766, Lean, II, ii; Brewer, &c. 
Wesley, Maggots, 1685. 

There was old George sitting on the bench as grave as a 
judge. 1889, NED. — He looked as solid as a judge all the 
while. 1895, Stf; Lan; Lin. 

Barney's eye flashed fire = he stood erect, and was about to speak, 
but mastering himself ... he took up the garment, and left 
the room as perpendicular as a quaker. Barham, IL, 31. 
Then Ph . . . ps came forth, as starch as a quaker. Whose 
simple profession's a pastoral-maker. Sheffield, 1720, NED. 
Bell Barry adopted a dignified reserve that almost amounted 
to pomposity, and was as starch as any quakeress. Thackeray, 
BL, i. Cf. By his garb, one would have taken him for a 
quaker, but he had none of the stiffness of that sect. Smollet, 
1771, NED. 

'Perpendicular' of a person's erect figure or attitude is 
known from 1768. The earliest inst. in NED is of some 
interest: — He canter'd away before me as happy and as 
perpendicular as a prince. Sterne. 'Starch' ==: stiff is rec. 
from 1 71 7. 

As solid as my grandmother. Contention between Lib. and Prod., 
Hazlitt, Dodsiey, Old Plays, viii, 602. 'Solid' = grave, serious 
is a dialect word. In lit. English it means also sedate, steady, 
which sense is rec. from 1632. 

The 'Holy Hermandad'/ . . . each looking as grave as a 'Grand- 
dad'. Barham, IL, 293. 

The men say she is as stiff as a poker; and the women are afraid 
of her; she is so proud and prudish. Mrs. Hervey, 1800, 
NED. Lady Elizabeth, as stiff as a poker, sat with her mouth 
pursed up, vexed to death. Mrs. Hervey, 1800, NED. . . . 
replied Nasmyth, still as stiff as any poker. Hornung, TN, 
168. Cf. He is as stiff as if he had swallowed a poker. Yks., 
EDD, 'stand-offish', supercilious. — Of a stiffness so perfect 
that part of his toilette seemed to be swallowing a poker. 



— 6o — 

Ld. Brougham, 1844, NED. — This sim. is not known to 
Ray and Hazlitt. 

To look as solemn as gargelUs in a wall that gryn and stare. Ruyn 
of a Ream, 178, n. d. Lean, II, ii. See Laughing, Grinning. 

As grave as an old gate-post. Ray; Matteux, Rabelais, V, xxviii, 
128, NED. The gate-post is known to NED from 1522. The 
simplex post occurs in other sim. as well; see e. g. Deaf. 

He was, I found afterwards, an absurd pompous person, as stiff 
as a ramrod. Conrad, Rom. 92. Ramrod is a comparatively 
modern word, being rec. from 1797. Cf. the adj. ramroddy 
and the subst. ramrodism both referring to (military) stiffness. 

I had been sitting demure as a gib cat. Gall. 1898, EDD. See 
Melancholy, Modest. 

Ez solemn ez a coo. Blakeborough, NRY, 241; in daily use. 

As grave as an owl. Brewer, DPF, 546. They were sitting side 
by side on the sofa, looking as grave as a pair of owls. Kriiger, 
Schwierigkeiten des Englischen, III, 331. 

He's solemn and serious as an old owl. London, ME, 73. Cf. 
The gravest fish is an oyster, the gravest bird's an owl, /The 
gravest beast's an ass, and the gravest man's a fool. Lean 
IV. 

Had your mouth as mim, and as grave as a May-puddock. Graham, 
1883, EDD. A May-puddock is a young frog. 

As solid as ess. Said of one looking serious. 'Ess' means dead 
ashes, without a spark of fire. Jackson & Burne, 595. — The 
word ess occurs in two other sim.: 'as plain as the letter S', 
'as big(-sorted) as ess (S). This is apparently a reference 
to the old |"-type, which certainly was both plain and big 
compared with the other letters. And there is nothing impossible 
in its being used in the sim. in question. Further informations 
wanted. 

They were all as silent and serious as night. Benson, 1795, NED. 



Calm, Steady, Unflinching. 

The wold Blackbird is so steady as a Church. Som. 1895, EDD. 

See Safe, Ch. IV. 
As serene as a Stoic /of a French writer's temperament/. DNL, 

5, IX, '12. 
Swithin, who was stable as a giant in all that appertained to nature 

and life outside humanity, was a mere pupil in domestic matters. 

Hardy, TT, 280; NED has no modern inst. of this adjective 

referring to persons and their dispositions. 
Cuff /a prize-fighter/ had lost all presence of mind and power of 

attack and defence. Figs, on the contrary, was as calm as 

a quaker. Thackeray, VF, v. See Grave, Stiff. 



— 6i — 

Pyne could be as stolid as a red Indian when the occasion de- 
manded it. Tracy, Pillar, 144. — The stolidity of the red 
Indian is proverbial. 

She dunno what she knows in that line /fighting/, 'cept when she is 
mad, and then it all comes out. You've got to git 'er mad 
fust, though. Quiet as a child at other times. Whiteing, 
No. 5 44. 

He was as calm as vertue. Shak., Cy, V, v, 174. 

As quiet as murder. Lean, II, ii. 

As steady as old Time. Lean, II, ii. See Grave. 

As cool as a custard. Lean, II, ii. — Is this custard the dish, 
and what is the application of the sim..^ 

A young maid is as cold as a cucumber. Beaumont & Fletcher, 
Cupid's Revenge. Lean, II, ii. 

And of courage as cold as cucumber. John Tatham, The 
Rump, i, 1660. ibid.. The Scots Figgaries, 1652; Poor Robin, 
1690, Lean, II, ii; see W., where some modern inst. from 
Eliot, Phillpotts &c. are given. 

As cool as a cucumber. Gay, NS; W; Tracy, Pillar, no, &c. 
Have no fear for yourself,' he says, cool as a cucumber, 
Phillpotts, TK, 106. — "I tell you, the way you caught on 
about that slop was something worth seeing. When I asked 
you — I didn't half expect it. Bif! Right! Cool as a cu- 
cumber . . . You acted like a gentleman over that slop". Cf. 
also: — "Permit me to add, most precious and adorable 
creature, that you are the coolest cucumber that it has yet 
been my privilege to meet." Bennet, GW, 7. 

As to the different forms of this sim. it may be said that 
'as cold &c.' is now, if not obsolete, at least very rare in 
modern English, 'as cool &c.' being the prevalent form. As 
the adj. differ in meaning the sim. themselves must have 
had somewhat different applications. Both forms are used of 
material things in the literal senses of the words (see Cold Ch. 
III). The earlier form is used of the unimpassioned nature 
of a 'cold' woman, but it does not seem to have, or have had, 
the sense of cool = undisturbed, calm, which is the usual force 
of the adj. in the later form of the sim. But cool also refers, 
to judge from the quotation from Bennet, to callous and 
deliberately impudent daring. 

"Miss, shall I send you some cowcumber.^" — "Madam, I 
dare not touch it; for they say, cowcombers are cold in the 
third degree." Swift, PC, 274. This no doubt goes back to 
mediaeval quackery. The cucumber was perhaps looked upon 
as being "cold and moist of complexion". 

As quiet as a clock. Whittinton, Vulgaria 1520, Lean, II, ii. 
This form of the sim. is perhaps more correctly placed under 
Quiet, Ch. IV. 
But they /soldiers/ were as steady as clocks and chirpy as 



— 62 — 

crickets. 1878, NED. This must be a reference to the still 
and regular ticking of a watch or perhaps any other time- 
piece. Cf. also: — "A little kindnes maks him who was as 
hote as a tost, as coole as a clock." Thomas Lodge, Euphues 
Shadow, G2, 1592. (N. & Q., 11, X, 247). 

Calm as coffins. Dickens, Master Humphrey's Clock, I, 60, W. 

. . . grow calm and quiet as lambs. Swift, TT, 83. I 
speak to several toppermost carriage people . . . without 
saying ma'am or sir to 'em, and they take it as quiet as 
lambs. Hardy PBE, 103, TM, 252, &c. Eor further inst. 
of this sim. see Still, Quiet Ch. IV; See Good-Jiattircd. 

The Solid South . . . still stands as firm and stolid as a hickory 
stump. 19 Cent. 12, 1027. For other sim. with Jiickory see 
Stiff, Tough, Ch. III. 

I was nervous . . . but Bob was cool as an iceberg. London, R, 
226. Iceberg is a late word, being rec. only from 1820. Cf. 
Captain Thelwal is a perfect iceberg. Lady C. Bury, 1840, NED. 

As stable as the hills. DNL, 12, IV, '13, See Still, Quiet, Ch. IV. 

With fawning words he courted her a while; . . . But wordes and 
lookes and sighes she did abhorre. As rock of Diamond stead- 
fast evermore. Spenser, FO, I, vi, 4. 

He is as steady as a rock; supports all his wife's family 
without complaining; and denies himself beer to buy books 
for his son. Shaw, IK, 170. — He'd always been as steady 
as a rock. Boldrewood, 1889, NED. Steady = regular in 
habits, not given to dissipation or looseness in conduct. NED. 
. . . there are many who mock/ At fear, and in danger stand 
firm as a rock. Barham, IL, 508; Though as firm as a rock 
in my own faith, I could not help remembering my grand- 
father held a different one. Thackeray, BL, xvii. — 
Dan's face had undergone some changes during the last few 
minutes, but when he lifted it to the deemster's it was as 
firm as a rock. Caine, D. xv. This form of the sim. has pro- 
bably about as wide a sphere as the adj. firm itself. See 
Hard, Firm Ch. IV. 

I expect your folk are dranting folk — quiet as the ground. Nrf. 
EDD. 1898. 

A Soule as euen as a Calme. Shak., KH VIII, III, i, 166. 



Good-natured, Mild, Gentle, Patient. 

Mr. Glegg, . . . though a kind man . . . was not as meek as Moses. 
Eliot, i860, NED. — Swithin was meek as Moses, TT, 209. 
— So meek as Moses now most times. I miss the thunder 
of him. Phillpotts, AP, 369. A brute at home and mild as 
Moses outside, ibid. P, 310. Cf. The mildest meekest of man- 



- 63 - 

kind, like Moses. Byron, DJ, 9, 21. — This is not the idea 
one would form of the great reformer who brought his race 
away from bondage into the steeling solitudes of the desert, 
but it is a reference to /Vu. 12, 3: 'Now the man Moses was 
very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of 
the earth', which is looked upon as being an interpolation. 

She said no more, but, turning to her room as meekly as a martyr, 
heard him go downstairs. Hardy, JO, 332. 

Patient as pilgrimes, for pilgrimes arn we alle. Langland, PPl, 
XIII, 130. 

As stoute as a Stockefish, as meeke as a mecocke. R. B., 1575, 
NED. Meacock is a word known from the beginning of the 
i6th c. and means an effeminate person. NED. 

This clerk was cleped heende Nicholas; ... he was sleigh and ful 
prive, And lik to a mayden meke for to se. Chaucer, MiT, 
16. — In tym of pes, mek as a maid was he. Wallace, 1470. 
Cf. peos milde meke meiden 1225, NED. 
A child as maydyn myld. Songs, 45. 

A proper gallant gentleman, and as kind as a maid, too. 
Kingsley, WH, 471. As softspoken as a girl. Phillpotts, SW. 

Here could I breathe my soul into the air, /As mild and gentle 
as the cradle-habe/ Dying with nother's dug between its lips. 
Shak., KH Vlb, III, ii, 391. — He was a very nice gentle- 
manly man indeed . . . He said to me as gentle as a babe 
when ail was done: . . . Hardy, JO, 434. 
. . . bowing as meek as a child. Hardy, LLI, 268, 
... an Irish heart as tender as a child's. N. Age, X 3. 

Thou art Hermione, or rather, thou art she /In thy not childing, for 
she was tender/ As infancy and grace. Shak., WT, V, iii, 25. 

I was patient as the midnight sleep. Shak., Co., Ill, i. 85. 

. . . though greater than King or Kaiser, yet is the mighty Aldro- 
vando milder than mother's milk. Barham, IL, 97. Lean, Rog. 

— Mother s milk, is rec. from the times of Dunbar. NED. 
As mild as milk. Debate of the Body and Soul (ist quarter 
of 13th c. W.). ... a temper mild as milk. Hardy, MC, 29. 

— Yet your father, instead of being angry, was mild as milk. 
Hardy, W, 50. — I was getting a little excited: but you who 
are as mild as the milk that dews the soft whisker of the 
new-weaned kitten, will forgive me. Barham, IL, v. 

Zo mild's milk. Hewett, Dev., ii. — 'As mild as milk' is not 
known to Ra}^, Hazlitt, Lean. See Sweet Ch. IV. 
What's the good of a plan that ain't no more trouble than 
that.f* It's as mild as goose-milk. Twain, HF, 299. — Goose- 
milk is a term unknown to the Dictionaries. 

Her temper pretty near so sweet as the cream she makes. Phill- 
potts, AP, 3J. 

After her trouble her temper — as sweet as honey afore — got 
soured a trifle. Phillpotts, TK, 103. See Sweet Ch. IV. 



- 64 - 

Oh! the cussedness of being shut up for weeks with a fightin' man! 
For the fust two days they're as sweet as treacle; and then 
their contrariness comes out. Their tempjers is puffict 'ell. 
Shaw. CBP, 104. 

As soft as a boiled turnip. — Easily given to tears. A boy who 
cries for a little, or who is cowardly, is sure to have this sim. 
contemptuously thrown at him. Yks. EDD. 

. . . our Nance making a great big fellow like you as fool-soft as 
a bit of tallow. Oxenham, MS, 14. Fool-soft is a word found 
in no diet. 

Did not th'illustrious Bassa make /Himself a slave for Missie's sake,/ 
And with bull's pizzle, for her love, /Was taw'd as gentle as 
a glove? Butler, H, 149. See Easy, Ch. IV. 

You tread upon my patience: but be sure/ I will from henceforth 
rather be myself,/ Mighty and to be fear'd, than my condition; 
/Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down,/ And 
therefore lost the title of respect . . . Shak , KH IVa, I, iii, 5. 
See Flattering, Fawning; Smooth, Soft, Cii. III. 

She /the moon/ may make a man as soft as a sponge ... or as 
hard as a bar of steel. Hope, RH, 272. 

Ez good-natured ez a pump. — A pump never grumbles, no matter 
how often or by whom it is handled. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 

As mild as a cat in a capcase. The Christmas Prince, 1607, Lean, 
II, ii. The exact force of this sim. escapes the compiler. In 
the same work there is the phrase 'as sober as a cat in a 
capcase. ' — The capcase seems too have been used in certain 
phrases of a proverbial character: /Dice-playing/ causeth manie 
of them (oftentimes) to bring a castell into a capcase, a whole 
manour and lordshippe into a cottage, their fee simple into 
fee single. Northbrooke, DD, 115, 1577. — Thus many gam- 
blers bring a castle into a cap-case. Hinde, 1641, NED. No 
inst. of the word is rec. before 1 577 and after 1 64 1. The 
same phrase occurring in both inst. makes it probable that it 
had acquired a proverbial character already in 1577, which 
means that the word must have existed a good deal earlier 
than 1577. 

Miss Brentwood thinks I am as mild as a kitten and as good- 
natured and stolid as the family cow. London, IH, 58. 
Ez patient ez a cat. Blakeborough, NRY, 239; in daily use. 

He {jat was woned to be Meke as a lomb, ful of pite. c. 1330. 
And as a iamb sche sitteth meeke and stille. Chaucer. 
As meek as ever was eny lamb. Chaucer, Sec. Nonn. T., 
197; MiT. 16. /Women are/ meke as a lambe. Songs, 112; 
Melbancke, Philotimus, 158. She went away as meek as a 
lamb. Harraden, I., 438. — Not known to Ray, Bohn and Hazlitt. 
— The absence of inst. from c. 1580 to modern times is rather 
strange. But it would seem, to judge from the scarcity of inst. 



- 65 - 

in NED, that the adj. vieek was not a favourite word with 
the 17th and early i8th cc. 

As louh as lombe. Langland, PPl, VIII. 196; XX, 36. Low 
=^ humble, meek is rec. from Langland and onward, although 
now rare. NED. 

When he is angryest of all I can make hym as mylde as a 
lamb. Palsgrave, 1530, NED; Kyd, Span. Trag. IV; Ray. — 
In war was never lion raged more fierce/ In peace was never 
gentle lamb more mild/ Than was that young and princely 
gentleman. Shak., KR II, II, i, 173. Cf. As mild as a sheep. 
Melbancke, Philotimus, B 64. Ray. 

He is not the flower of courtesy, but I'll warrant him as gentle 
as a lamb. Shak., RJ, II, v, 42. Ray. 

She was as patient and willing as a lamb. Hardy, GND, 19, 
Papa's as quiet as a lamb now. Anstey, VV, 154. — The 
above inst. show that the standard forms of this sim. belong 
to ME and early MnE, where they are met with frequently. 
The lamb has been the symbol of meekness and gentleness &c. 
from prechristian times. But Christianity with its allusions 
to the 'patient and willing' lamb that was led out to be slaugh- 
tered, must have helped to give currency to expressions and 
phrases referring to its 'meekness.' — Uif Johannes I, 29, 
waar Jezus genoemd wordt het Lam Gods, dat de zonde der 
wereld wegdraagt, ontstond zulk eene vereering van het Lam 
dat zij in aanbidding ontaarde, wat door de kerk in de ye 
eeuw als "eine zu heidnische und zweideutige Sitte" verboden 
werd. Sloet, Dieren, 140. 
Faire is my loue, but not so faire as fickle; Milde as a done, but 
neither true nor trustie. Shak., Pass. Pil. NED. 
As mild and gentle as a dove. Shak., Hamlet, V, i, q. i. 
This is mere madness:/ And thus a while the fit will work 
on him; Anon as patient as the female dove/ When that her 
golden couplets are disclosed,/ His silence will sit drooping. 
Shak., Hamlet, V, i, 272. Some of them had the reputation 
of being the hardest men in the three States, others were mild 
as turtle-doves. White, BT, 234. 

"Some held that she who loved it /salt/ was most angry, 
and some held the contrary; showing how the dove, which 
delightest /sic!/ most therein, is the gentlest, lowliest, lovingest, 
meekest and friendliest bird that is. But the other side argued, 
to prove their reason, that all those kind of creatures which 
have the gall, if they delight in salt, of force cannot be testy, 
affirming also that the dove hath no gall, which is the only 
cause of her simpleness . . ." Grange, Golden Aphroditis, L, 
4, r. Lean, II, ii, 619. Cf. "I am pigeon-livered and lack 
gall." Shak., II, ii, 551. He has no more gall in him than 
in a dove. Dekker, H. Wh, la, ii. Towards the end of the 
Middle Ages we find widely spread the idea of the pigeon 

5 



— 66 — 

having no gall. Sir Thomas Browne calls it a "popular and 
received Tenent", and goes on to say that already "the 
Aegyptians from this consideration did make it /the dove/ 
the Hieroglyphyck of meeknesse." And though it is "averred 
by many holy writers", it is nothing but one of the "vulgar 
and common errors." "While some affirmed it had no gall, 
intending only thereby no evidence of anger or fury, others 
have construed it anatomically, and denied that part at all." 
N. & Q., 7, XI, 434. This "popular error" must have lived 
on far down into the 19th c, at least in Scotland, for in 
Jamieson's Popular Ballads of Scotland, ii, 159 fif. we read of 
a "bird without a ga", which is the dove, for "sin' the flood 
of Noah/ The dow she had nae ga," to which the editor adds 
the following note: — "The peasants in Scotland say that the 
dove that was sent out of the ark by Noah flew till she burst 
her gall; and that no dove since that time ever had a gall." 
N. & Q., 7, XI, 518. 

A fellow may have a hard cynical kind of way of putting things, 
and yet . . . have a heart as tender as a spring chicken un- 
derneath. Anstey, VV, 143. Till you grow tender as a chick, 
I'm dull as any post. Gay, NS. 

As gentle as a jay on tree. World and Child, 1522, Hazlitt, O. P., 
i, 254, Lean, II, ii. See Merry, p. 71. 

As meke as bryde in kage. Brunne, 1303, F'olk-Lore, LXIII, 409. 

I've been as weak as a fly with you before, 'cause of your curly 
hair. Phillpotts, AP, 120. 

Ez mild ez a May-morn. Blakeborough, NRY, 240; in daily use. 
Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May. Pope, 1704, NEU. 
Cf. Mild May evening, Ch. Bronte, Shirley, I, 244. 

As mild as a moonbeam. Said of a particularly mild and placid 
person. Nhp. EDD. 



Modest, Bashful. 

. . . drinking tay and coffee with them as modest as saints. Hardy, 
LLI, 271. Modest is not rec. before 1565. NED, 

As bashful as a lenten lover. Denham. Cf. A man of strict reli- 
gious habits, self-denying as a lenten saint. Hardy, GND, 
161. Dolent, contemplative lentlovers, . . . who never meddle 
with the flesh. Urquhart, Rabelais, 1694; See Cotgrave, s. v. 
Caresme, Amoureux de Caresme. Lean, II, ii. A raid was 
formerly made on the brothels on Shrove Tuesday in order 
to aid an enforced continency during Lent. Dyce, Notes to 
Middleton, iii, 217, Lean. Lent does not seem to have been 
a proper time for love and marriage, as we read in the old 
verse 'Marry in Lent/ And live to repent,' which is a remini- 



- 67 - 

scence of the fact that already the Council of Laodicea had prohi- 
bited the celebration of marriage in Lent (Lean, N. & Q., 7, 
VII, passim). The word lent(e7i)lovey is not rec. in NED. 

. . . the . . . inflexible British Snob can be as humble as a flunkey 
and as supple as a harlequin. Thackeray, BS, xxii. 

As coy as an alderman's oldest daughter. Nabbes, Tottenham 
Court, ii. 3, 1638, Lean, II, ii. — For allusions to aldernmi 
see Dull. 

As demure as a whore at a christening. Kelly, Scotish, Proverbs, 
1 72 1, Lean, II, ii. Demure = affectedly coy rec. from 1693. 

She who used to be as humble as a milkmaid, is as proud as a 
princess. Thackeray, HE, 103. — This is the milkmaid of 
17th and 1 8th c. poetry, a nauseatingly refined, modest, and 
humble, person, full of songs and unearthly perfections. 

Ye ride as coy and stille as doth a mayde Were newe spoused 
sittynge at the bord. Chaucer, NED. 
This young man is as bashful as a mayden. Three, 23. 
As modest as the maid that sips alone. Pope, D, III, 144. 
Cf. Fair, sweet and modest maid. Beaumont & Fletcher, 
1607, NED. 

. . . make Master impudency blush like a Virgin. G. Harvey, 
Wks II, 238. For other sim. with Blusk see Red Ch. III. 

As humble as a spaniel. Ned Ward, Nupt. Dial. II, vii, 17 10, 
Lean, II, ii. See Fazvnmg, Flattering, p. 25. 

As modest as a gib cat at midnight. Davenport, City Nightcap, 
iii, 1 66 1. See Melancholy. 

As mim as pussy Baudrons. Gall. Baudrons is a N. Cy word 
for the cat. 

. . . She smirked and she smiled, but so lisped this lass. 
That folk might have thought it done only alone 
Of wantonness, had not her teeth been gone. 
Upright as a candle standeth in a socket 
Stood she that day, so simper-de cocket. 
Of ancient fathers she took no cure nor care, 
She was to them as coy as a crokers mare. 
She took th'entertainment of the young men 
All in dalliance, as nice as a nun's hen. Heywood, PE, 52. 
Ray has 'as coy as Croker's mare.' Perhaps one of the 
"childish errors" that Hazlitt complains of. NED renders coy: 
'not responding readily to familiar advances', which fits the 
context excellently, as far as the 'lass' is concerned. But this 
cannot very well be applied to the pottery hawker's mare. The 
adj. may have had senses verging on steady, cautious, chary, 
as Brewer suggests, which may have been applicable to a 
steady horse. It must be remembered that still, quiet is the 
original meaning of the word. 

He . . . was as shy with ladies as a young colt, and could no 
more dance a minuet than a donkey. Thackeray, BL, xvi. 



— 68 — 

As humble as a lamb. Barclay, Kcl. v., ante 1530. 

He's bauld as a lion, though mini as a lamb. Lth. 1865, EDD, 

See Good Character. Gentle, Mild. 
. . . a man who was as shy as a wild deer. Doyle, R, II. 
Mony braw lasses . . . When they are afore folk, are mini as a 

moose. 1 88 1, EDD. The venturolocust was now as mim as a 

moose. Fif. EDD. Cf. Still Ch. IV. 
As mim and as sleek as a moudie. Slk. EDD. See Soft, Smooth 

Ch. III. 
She's not froward, but modest as the dove, Shak., TS, II, i 285. 

My pure, pure, Grace, modest as a turtledove, how came I 

ever to possess you.? Hardy, VV, 421. 
The young leddy was aye as mim as a May puddock to a' the 

lave o' mankind. Ayr. 1822, EDD. See Grave. 
I's foorced to flite, an' then she's as hummle as a crowiing-clock. 

Yks. EDD, 1876. (as lowly as a creeping beetle). 
They're all meek and mild and humble as earthworms. Phiilpotts, 

TK, 17. 
She's a tireless church-goer, and so good as gold, and so humble 

as a worm; Phiilpotts, WF. 46, 122. 
Pretends to be modest as a violet in the hedge, and yet she's as 

proud as a jay. Phiilpotts, WF, 242. 



Polite, Civil. 

Ez polite ez t'divii. — His Satanic Majesty is said to be willing 
to shake hands with anyone, Blakeborough, NRY, 243. 

As affable as a duke to his paying guests. DNL. 

As civil as lawyers. Webster, Westward Ho! (Dekker) 1607, 
Lean, II, ii. See False. 

But you must be as civil as butter to the Cardinal. Hope, PZ, 
50. Cf. the phrase 'As demure /or civil/ as if butter would 
not melt in his mouth.' H. She's as mim as if butter wadna 
melt in her mouth. Dmb. NED, 1844. He looked so demurely, 
I thought butter would not have melted in his mouth. Sedley, 
1687, NED. 'To look as if butter would not melt in one's 
mouth' is found already in Heywood, Latimer, and Palsgrave, 
Cf. also the following P"rench quotation: — A cette parolle 
mist dame Mehault ses mains a ses costez et en grant couroux 
luy respondy . . . que Dieu merci, aincoires fondoit le burre 
en sa bouche, combien . . . qu'elle n'avoit que un seal dent. 
Les Evangiles des Ouenouilles, ed. 1855, p. 32, N. & O., 2, 
I, 283. To butter ^ flatter fulsomely; Gifwa smicker for smor. 
Grubb, "j^"]. 

You're always as polite as pie to them. Twain, WV , 22. Cf. 'as 
good as pie'. 



- 69 - 

The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but civil 
count, civil as an orange, and something of that jealous com- 
plexion. Shak., MA., II, i, 262. No inst. of civil = polite, 
courteous is rec. before 1606. On this word Foster writes "■Civil 
= sourish. Cotgrave defines aigre-doiice as 'a civile orange, or 
orange that is between sweet and sower'." There is in Nashe, 
Introduction, 19, another inst. of the sim.: — ' . . . for the 
order of my life it is as ciuil as a ciuil orange'. In this case the 
adj. must mean 'orderly, well-governed', which sense is rec. 1591 
— 1685, NED. This seems to make it probable that the sim. 
may have had about as wide a sphere as the adj. itself, that 
civil could be intensified in all its senses, as far as they are 
capable of being so, by a comparison with 'a civil orange.' 
This is of a course a play on Seville. "About Sivill the best 
orenges grow, and are called by us Civil-orenges, under which 
name the women in London that sell any comprehend the 
best, calling them all so." Cole, Adam in Eden, 1657, N. & 
Q., 10, VI, 325. 

As polite as a fish-hook. Cowan, PS, 36. Ironical.'' 



Glad, Merry. 

Live as merry as Momus. Northall, FPh, 9. ■ — - It is rather strange 
that this Greek deity, the personification of censoriousness, 
often mentioned in Lucian as a lampooner of the gods, should 
have become a type of merriment in English dialects. But the 
witty lampooner may easily have come to be looked upon as 
a jester or a creator of merriment. "Momus est reste la per- 
sonification de la folie, non pas de cette folie sombre qui 
degrade I'homme, dont I'aspect nous affraye et nous attriste, 
mais de cette folie charmante et rieuse engendree par les 
plaisirs, a laquelle la sagesse ne dedaigne pas de prendre part 
quelquefois." Diet. Larousse, s. v. Momus. Cf. also the term 
Momus Polichinelle of Alexander Piron's Arlequin-Deucalion. 
Was Momus a figure in travelling puppet shows patronised 
by the rustics? 

Sometimes she laught as merry as Pope Jone. Spenser, FQ, II, 
vi, 3. The 2nd edition reads differently: — ... that nigh 
her breath was gone. 

The Bishop of Man liveth here at his ease, and as merry as 
Pope Joan. Pilkington, Wks, vii. Letter to the Archb. of Canterb. 
1564, Lean, II, ii And sit down in my chaire by my wife 
faire Alison/, And turne a crabbe in the fire, as merrie as pope 
John. Damon and Pithias, Dodsley, I, 276, 1571. Pope Julio . . . 
was a greate and wary player, . . . being a goode companyon, 
and as the phrase is, as mery as Pope Joane. Harrington, 



— 70 — 

1597' NED. Northall FPh 9. — Papissa JoJia7ma is generally 
said to have been an Englishwoman, who became elected Pope 
in 855, succeeding Leo IV and preceeding Benedict III. She 
held her position for upwards of two years, but after the ex- 
piration of that time was delivered of a child, and died during 
parturition while proceeding in a procession. This fabulous 
personage created a good deal of "learned" controversy be- 
tween some early protestant divines and their catholic opponents. 
"Her very existence itself seems now to be universally rejected 
as a fabrication from beginning to end." Sir T. Browne, Wks, 
III, 360. Prudentius Trecensis, Bishop of Troyes, a contem- 
porary of the above-mentioned popes, writes in his chronicles 
as follows: — Mense Atigusto Leo apostolicae sedis antistes 
defiinctus est, eique Bencdictus successit. Monumenta Germa- 
niae Hislorica, Hannover, 1826, I, 449. N. & O., June 185 1. 
See further N. & Q., 3, I, 459. 

As merry as Maid Marian. Wither, Motto Poems, 162 1, Lean, 
II, ii. — Maid Marian belongs to the cycle of Robin Hood, 
Little John &c. See Barham, IL, 95, and cf. "She /Long 
Meg/ knew some rules of decorum: and although she were a 
lustie bounsing rampe, somewhat like Gallemella, or Maide 
Marian, yet she was not such a roinish rannel &c." G. Harvey, 
Pierce's Supererogation, 1593. See Enc. Brit. 

As merry as the maids. Ray. Cf. As merry as a maid might be. 
Melbancke, Philotimus. 467, 1583, Lean, II, ii. 

As merry as a king. Interlude of Youth. H., O. P., II, 14, Lean, 
II, ii. See Happy, Pleased p. "'] . 

Gladder than the gleoman that gold hath in gyfte. Langland, PPl, 
XII, 104. 

As merry as a tiddler. Christmas Prince, 1607; Seven Days of 
Week, i; Wit's Interpreter, p. 2, 1655, Lean, II, ii. 

As merry as the nialtman. Kelly, Scot. Proverbs, 18 1 3, Lean, 
II, ii. Cf. 'as merry as mice in malt.' The maltman is the 
maltster. 

As merry as a carter. Braithwaite, Whimsies, 1631, Lean, II, ii. 

As merry as tinkers. Howell, 1662, Lean, II, ii. 

As merry as forty beggars. Dekker, Shoemaker's Holida}'*, Howell, 
1662, Lean, II, ii. See Ch. V. 

As merry as a bridegroom on his wedding-day. Taylor, NL. 

As merry as cup and can. Nashe, II, 248. As merry as cup and 
can: Drink makes thee dull: But cans are most sad when 
they are most full. Davies Ep. 363, Lean, III. Ray. Heywood, 
PE, ed. Sharman, 103, has 'Merry we are as cup and can 
could hold.' 

And all went merry as a marriage-bell. Byron, 18 16, NED. Hardy, 
How to be Happy though Married, 18, 1886. Everything 
merry as a marriage-bell. Wells, Kipps, 297. Merry marriage- 
bells, a piece of alliteration frequently used. 



— 71 — 

Ez merry ez a Maypole dance. Blakeborough, NRY, 242; in daily use. 
As merry as a two-year old. Northall, FPh. This must be a young 

colt. — There is in H. the phrase 'as merry as the mares.' 

Hazlitt does not give any authority, which in some cases has 

been found out to mean that it is taken from Ray ed. Bohn. 

This applies to the case in question. In Bohn's Complete 

Alphabet of Proverbs, p. 319 we read: As merry as the 

mares, 186'. — P. 185 f. we have Ray's Proverbial Similes, 

but instead of tJie mares Ray gives the maids. Consequently 

mares must be a misprint for maids, and Hazlitt has copied 

it. See Sure, Ch. IV. 
I feel it in my bones that we shall be as frisky as lambs to-morrow. 

Tracy, Pillar, 160. 
As lusty as so many bacon-hogs or sucking calves. Kennet, 1702, 

NED. Lusty seems to mean 'strong, healthy, growing rapidly' 

rather than 'merry, cheerful.' 
Next came fresh Aprill, full of lustyhed,/ And wanton as a Kid 

whose horn new buds. Spenser, FQ, VII, vii, 33. Wood, 

Manx Prov. 263. Wanton is the word for a playful and gam- 
bolling kid. 
As merry as the pricket. Herrick, 1648. 

As merry as a buck. Billingsly, Brachy-Martyriologia, p. 

187, 1657, Lean, II, ii. 
As merry as mice in malt. Clarke; H. 

As merry as a March hare. Skelton, 1520 NED. See Mad. 
And hom he goth, as mery as a popinjay. Chaucer, Shipm. T. 

Syngeth ful merrier than the popinjay. Chaucer, Shipm. T. 369. 

As merry as the popinjay. Drayton, Shep. Garl. I593- 

Lean, II, ii. 
As blithe as Robin Reddocke. Smyth, Berkeley MSS, 1639, Lean, 

II, ii. Robin Reddock = R. Redbreast. 
Yet listen, lordes, to my tale, Murier than the Nigtyngale, Chaucer, 

195/ 2023. 
As merry as the morning lark. Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606, Withals, 

1616. Lean, II, ii. Merry as a lark. Hamerton, 1873, NED. 

As glad and as gay as the lark. Baring-Gould, BS, 189; 

London, LL, 185. 

Zo gay's a lark. Hewett, Dev. 11. 

Quite blyth and cheerful as a lark. Yks, 183 1, EDD. 

Would he have been cheerful as a lark, picknicking with a 

bottle of champagne.? Phillpotts, WF, 428. 
And forth sche goth, as jolly as a pye. Chaucer, Shipm. T. 209. 

And she for her part, made us cheer heaven high — The 

first part of dinner merry as a pie. Heywood, PE, 60. King's 

Halfe-penny-worth of Wit in a Pennyworth of Paper. H. 

Stibborn and strong and jolly as a pye. Chaucer. 

As eny jay sche light was and jolyf. Chaucer. 

Gentil, jolyf, so the jay. Kluge, 83. 



— 72 — 

As glad as fowl of a fair day. Clarke; Lean, II, ii. . . . was ful 

glad thereof, as fowl of day. Chaucer. 

As fain as fool of a fair day. Kelly, Sc. Proverbs, 1721, Lean, 

II, ii. As fayn as fowel is of the brighte sonne. Chaucer, 

K. T., 1579. Thay were as a glad of his comyng/ As foul 

is fain whan that the sonne upriseth. Chaucer, ST, 51. 

Al so fayn as foul of fair morwenynge. Langland, PPL XII, 

104 (C-text). 

For was there never fowl so fayn of May, As I shal been 

whan that sche cometh in Troye. Chaucer, Tr. & Cr. v, 425. 

As merry as the byrd on bough. Morality, 626 /Digby MSS. 

Abbotsford Club/ Lean, II, ii. 

As merry as byrd on the briar. Cobler of Canterbury, 1608. 

Cf. Hop as light as bird from brier. Shak., MND, V, ii. 

As blithe as a bird on the tree. Lean, II, ii. 

Sprightly and gay/ As the bird on the spray. Barham, IL, 419. 

Cf. ibid. 550: Merrie sang the Birde as she sat upon the 

spray. — This wes in the moneth of May, Quhen byrdis syngis 

on the spray. Barbour, 1375. NED. 

They, all as glad as birdes of joyous Pryme, Thence lead her 

forth. Spenser, FQ, I, vi, 13. 

As merry as a bird in May. Clarke, Lean, II, ii. 

As blithely as a bird of May. Hardy, HE, 208. 

Sat downe upon the dusty ground anon; /As glad of that 

small rest as Bird of Tempest gon. Spenser, FQ, III, vii, 10. 

. . . which I did as blithe as a bird. Richardson, P, 35. 

I should be as glad as a bird to leave the place. Hardy, MC, 

226. — For some further inst. of the early forms of this sim. 

see Skeat, EEP, 94. 
She . . . merry as a grig is grown. Gay, NS. 

I thought you had all supt at home last Night? — Why, so 

we did — and all as merry as Grigs. NED, 1728. 

As merry as Griggs. Josiah Wedgwood, Letter, 1775, N. & 

Q., 9, XII. 

I grew as merry as a grig, and laughed at every word that 

was spoken. Goldsmith, Ess. VI. 

The learned gentleman ... is as merry as a grig at a French 

wateringplace. Dickens, Bleak House, XIX. 

One day I vvur ith' fielt, sowing away as merry as a grig. 

Gaskell, 1841. 

All of them looking as happy and as merry as grigs. Cud- 
worth, 1884, Yks, EDD. 

He may be as agreeable as possible — as merry as a grig. 

Duncan, AG, 117. 

So merry's a grig, so merry's a cricket, are equally common. 

Suf. Som. 

Once blythe as grigs, our merriment/ Is changed to meditation. 

Nhb. 1840, EDD. 



— 71 — 

Going up and down five flights of stairs with soup, joint and 
pudding, whilst one carried the tray and the other swung a 
hand lantern in front, required time and exertion. They vere 
cheerful as grigs over it. Tracy, Pillar, 6'j . 
From morning till neet we're as happy as grigs. Lane. Ballads. 
EDD. — As brisk as a grig. Yks. 1856. NED. 
Her aunt . . . has turned as lively as a grig. Dickens, 1840, 
NED. 

She'll be as lively as a grig to-morrow. Barlow, 1892, Ir. 
EDD. 

These are the forms known to the compiler. H. has 'as merry 
as the grig'. Probably his own coinage. No inst. of the phrase 
itself has been found before Gay, although the expression 
merry grig is nearly 200 years older. In PE it does not seem 
to be very common, except perhaps in the dialects. A cor. 
of N. & Q., 10, I, 94, informs us that the saying was in con- 
stant use when he was a lad in Derbyshire, but he has not 
known it to be used at Worksop (Nottingham) except by 
himself. 

Now what is grig, Grig, Grigfgjs? The matter has been 
discussed at some length in N. & Q., NED and by H. It 
is most commonly explained as a sand-eel or a cricket. But 
the word is not generally understood as appears from the fact 
that a writer quoting the sim. in the form given by Wedgwood 
goes on to ask, "Who was Griggs.^" — The word has a 
variety of meanings other than those rec. in NED. In Staf- 
fordshire bantams, which are known for their pugnacious and 
spirited character, are so called. In Yorkshire children from 
about four to eight years of age are styled grigs. "I have 
always understood that a grig was a tadpole. As a youth I 
used to fish for them under this name and that of bull-heads." 
N. & Q., 10, I, 36. (They are z\so cdW^d porriwiggles). The 
above-mentioned Nottingham man makes the following very 
interesting statement: "Gnats dancing in the sun were grigs, 
and so were "cheese-jumpers" said to be as they moved and 
jumped on the cheese-boards in provision shops. Anything 
having a lively motion was a grig, and tadpoles were included 
in the list. Along the roads after a shower of rain appeared 
lively insects, which were known as fishflies, and these "danced 
like grigs" in the sun as long as the lanes remained wet." 
N. & Q., 10, I, 94. A class of vagabond dancers and tum- 
blers who visited ale-houses have been so called. "Hence Levi 
Solomon, who lived in Sweet Apple Court, being asked in his 
examination how he obtained his living replied that he went 
a-grigging." Brewer, Diet. 555. ('grigging' is other wise a term 
for grig or sand-eel fishing). We have also the above-mentioned 
term a merry grig, an extravagantly lively person (NP3D). 

Now, which of all these things is referred to in the sim.? Is 



— 74 — 

the grig of the adage the sand-eel, the cricket, the merry 
companion, or something else? All the senses would fit the 
context about equally well. "Whether we translate the phrase 
by "as lively as a little eel" or by "as cheerful as a cricket" 
we get equally good sense either way, and I am now in some 
doubt as to which it should be; for the meaning a little eel 
seems to be the more usual one." W. W. Skeat, N. & Q., 
3, X, 516. We are no doubt right in assuming that \\\^ gng 
of the sim. represents the sense uppermost in the mind of 
the speaker or writer. But how can we know anything about 
that? The meaning most common in Staftbrdshire is perhaps 
the one least known in Northumberland, and a sense very 
frequent in Somerset is perhaps not even known in Ireland. 
We must perhaps be content to say that it represents some- 
thing that is full of spirits and lively motions, the idea that 
seems to underlie nearly all senses. When using the sim. 
people in different parts of the country, who are familiar v^'ith 
the word grig, may assign to it different meanings. Those 
who do not know it (it is not a common word in st. E.) fall 
to speculating about it, and are likely to repeat what they 
have been told. To these people the grig will be a sand-eel or 
a cricket according to the opinions of their authorities. There 
is nothing in the sim. itself or its application that obliges us 
to prefer one sense to the other. It is of course also possible 
that many speakers use the word without giving it any fixed 
or special sense. To them it means simply 'anything having a 
lively motion.' 

It has been put into connection with the earlier recorded 
term a mej'ry Greek, not unfrequently used by the Elizabethans 
and rec. from 1536 to 1694. To the inst. given by NED these 
may be added: — I have committed to my mind such store 
of pleasant devises to please their humours at the table that 
I am called my Lords merry Greeke, for the company is the 
merrier that I am in. Fulwell, Ars Adulandi, 1576. He's the 
merriest Greek that ere was heard of. Dav. of Hereford, 1605. 
Lean. Long hair is the only net that women spread about to 
entrap men in; and why should not men be as far above 
women in that commodity, as they go beyond men in others? 
The merry Greeks were called xaprjXOjLiocovTet; (long-haired) 
Dekker, GH, 30. — NED says, "The relation of merry grig 
to merry Greek is obscure; no doubt one of them must have 
been a perversion of the other, but the difference of recorded 
date is too slight to afford ground for saying that merry Greek 
is the original. The probability seems indeed rather on the 
other side as it is not easy to explain why Greek should be 
used in this sense, for which there is no precedence in French." 
But cf. Brewer Diet. 555, 'Patric Gordon . . . says, "No 
people in the world are so jovial and merry, so given to sing- 



— 75 — 

ing and dancing as the Greeks.'" Skeat, who must have 
changed opinions, is, as usual, less doubtful. In his CED he 
says, s. V. grig, 'In phr. "as merry as a grig" grig is for 
Greek; from L. graecari, to live like Greeks, i e. luxuriously.' 
— But a mere assertion is no argument, and as long as no 
further facts have been produced, no one is bound to accept 
so extraordinary a theory. Why should a dialect word that 
in every respect has the look of a good native word be a 
corruption of a loanword? It is true that the terms merry 
grig and merry Greek are translated into French in the same 
way; — "They tearm in French, a boon companion or merry 
greek, Roger hon temps'. Howell, 1650, NED. A merry- 
grigge, Roger bon temps, gale bon temps, goinpre. Sherwood, 
Elworthy, W. Som. Words, 301. But no translation or ren- 
dering can ever give the exact force and all the connotations 
that a word possesses. It may also be true that the spheres 
of the words coincide to a very great extent, but a careful 
perusal of the two articles in NED will show that they are not 
synonyms in the strictest sense of the word. A merry (or mad 
or gay) Greek is not only a merry fellow, he is also often a 
roysterer or a person of loose habits; the word was, or could 
be used as, a euphemism for a drunkard. The merry grig is 
an extravagantly lively person full of frolic and jest (NED). 
This justifies the conclusion that the words may go back to 
different origins. Etymologically the grig of the sim. has 
nothing to do with Greek. It is simply one of the many uses 
of this dialect word, which in most cases signifies something 
small, quick and lively. Is this its primary meaning.'^ Cf. A 
true Trojan, and a mad merry grig, though no Greek. 1820. 
Slang. Greek in a merry Greek is the old loanword, and the 
term is occasioned by, or at least explained by, statements like 
the one in Brewer (see above), and the verb referred to by Skeat. 
It is noteworthy that the term became current in the early 
i6th c, the period that witnessed the incoming of the 'new 
learning.' It must be remembered also that there is no inst. 
of a sim. 'as merry as a Greek.' Lean gives this phrase, but 
it is clearly a literary 'improvement'. Consequently there is 
no need to expect a precedence in French or to suppose a 
perversion of one of the terms into the other. Being similar 
in sound and belonging to the same sphere of ideas, a merry 
grig and a merry Greek may have been used, to a certain 
extent, indiscriminately, and have been mixed up and misunder- 
stood, especially by latter day interpreters. 

As blithe and gay as so many Chiswick nightingales. Josiah Wedg- 
wood in a letter to Bently, 1778. The C. nightingales are of 
the same kind as the fen nightingales in Line. Cf. the term 
Dutch nightingale. 



- -J^ - 

As merry as a cricket. G. Harvey, New Letter of Notable Contents, 
1593 . . . shall we be merry? — As merry as crickets, my 
lad. Shak., KH IVa, II, iv, 85. Haughton, Grim, the Collier 
of Croydon, Lean. 

To live as merrily as crickets in an oven. Kingsley, WH, 398. 
Oh, they were fierce; they were as merry as crickets. 1886, NED. 
Mullens had become as cheerful and lively as a cricket. NED, 
1878. 

As pleasant as a cricket. G. Harvey, NED, 1592. "The pre- 
sence of this cheerful little insect is lucky and portends some 
good to the family." W. Jardine, Naturalist's Library. Lean. 
On the other side the cricket is often associated with things 
that are far from merry. Crickets, crows, ravens, cats, &c. 
are beasts of ill omen. See Lean passim and Wright, RS, 
315, Dryden, Oedipus, IV, 200, Sloet, De Dicren, 384 &:c. 

Exclame not, neither bewail these pore ones estate, for thei 
can see day at a little whole, and live as merrie, the old 
proverb saith, as white bee in hive. BuUein, Bulw. of Def. 
Lean, IV. This "old proverb" is not known to any other 
authority. 

We were riding on Hameldon a week ago, and he was brigiit 
as a bee and telling me the names of the places, and full of 
fun, too. Phillpotts, WF, 273. 

"Hang thinking, 'snigs, I'll be as merry as a pismire: come, let's 
in." Wm Cartwright, The Ordinarj', III, iv, ante 1561. It 
occurs proverbially. J. H. McMichael, N. & Q., 10, I, 277. 
See Proud; Busy. 

'As jolly as a sand-boy', designates a merry fellow who has tasted 
a drop. 1823, NED. You'll get into it by and by, you see 
if you don't, and be as jolly as a sandboy. Anstey, VV, 113. 
Northall, FPh. 8. Zo jolly'z a zan'bwoy. Hewett, Dev. 11. 
We will smoke together and be as merry as sandboys. Fitz 
Gerald, 1841, NED. Lean, — What is a sandboy? NED ex- 
plains }K boy who hawks sand for sale, and quotes John 
Bee's Diet. Turf: — "Sand-boy, all rag and all happiness; the 
urchins who drive the sandladen neddies through our streets, 
are envied by the capon-eating turtle-loving epicures of these 
cities." Dickens uses the word in Old C. Shop, Ch. xviii, 
"The Jolly Sandboys was a small roadside inn . . ., with a 
sign representing three sandboys increasing their jollity with 
as many jugs of ale and bags of gold . . ' But this does not 
tell us what a sandboy is. "Danny and Billy Quilleash were 
sworn chums, and the little sandboy learned all the old salt's 
racy sayings." Caine, D, vi. Here the context makes the 
sense clear. It simply means a boy that runs about on the 
beach. The word has also been explained as a labourer who 
works among sand and gravel pits (N. & Q., 3, IX). "'Sand- 
boy" is the vulgar name of a small insect, which may be seen 



— n — 

in the loose sand so common on the seashore. This insect 
hops and leaps in a manner strongly suggesting of jollity, and 
hence I imagine the simile arises.' N. & Q., 3, IX. ? the young 
shrimp skipping on the sand. Lean. Further information re- 
quired. 

As merry as three beans in a blue bladder. P. Robin's Ap. 1698. 
For further references to this or similar phrases see Lean II, 
ii. Jingles with three blue beans &c. are rec. from 1600, Slang. 
See Easy, Ch. IV. 

Madame, ye make my heart light as kyx,/ To see you thus full 
of your meretrix. Heywood, PE, 135. Pun on merry tricks. 
For other sim. with kix (kex) see Dry, Weight, Ch. IV. 

So playde these twayne, as merry as three chips. Heywood, PE, 
NED. See Smiling, Laughing Sic. 

As merry as flovers in May. Lean, II, ii. 

As blithe as May. Fletcher, Poems, 1656, Lean, II, ii. 

As merry as the day is long. 

So were I out of prison and kept sheep,/ I should be as merry 
as the day is long. Shak., KJ, IV, i, 18. ... there live we as 
merry as the day is long. Shak., MA, II, i, 41. Byron, Child 
Harold, Pt iii, 21. Lean, II, ii. &c. See p. 78. 



Happy, Pleased, Content. 

Bluejackets as happy as Cherubims. DNL, 22, VII, '13. — Cf. the 
phrase 'to be in the Cherubims' = to be in good humor. 
Udall, 1542, Slang. 

. . . looking as sweet and contended as an angel half full of pie. 
Twain, HF, 368. 

I was (as the poet says) as pleased as Punch. 181 3. NED. (The poet 
referred to has not been discovered). Dickens, Hard Times, 44, 
W. Norris, Jim, 221. &c. — Punch is an abbreviated form of 
Punchinello. On the origin of this term and the comic cha- 
racter it represents see Enc. Brit. It appears that the intro- 
duction into England must have been later than the Restaura- 
tion period. 

I will tell ye. Lady, your great Lord and 1/ Have thought ourselves 
as happy as a King/ To drink the water of a christal spring. 
Tragical History of Guy, Earl of Warrick. 1661, N. & Q., 2, 

X, 350- 

Which made the Dog get on his Legs, pleas'd like a little 
King. Motteux, 1694, NED. 

I am as croose as a king with my ain Jessie Glen. Kcb. EDD. 
Croose = pleased, happy. 
If I . . . would send ... a pound of tobacko, I should make her 
husband as happy as a prince. 1S04, NED. See Proud. 



- 78 - 

As pleased as a dog with two tails. Lin. EDD. Folk-Lore, LXIII» 

409. See Proud. 
She was pleased as an old war horse. Harraden, I., 57. 
Mabel herself be happy as a cow. Phillpotts, \VF, 375. 
As happy as a sow i' muck, in a muckhill; a phrase setting forth 

the contented state of those who live for sensual pleasure^ 

Lin. 1877. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. 

As happy as little pigs in new straw. Lane. EDD. 
So fat as a maggot he is, and so happy as a coney. Phillpotts, 

WF, 451. 
As lucky as a calling duck. Letter of 161 7, N. & O., 9, VIII, 484. 
'E comes back fishin' 'ere as 'appy as a lark. Copping, GG, 161, 

Vachell, WJ. 104. See Merry p. 71. 
As happy as a torn tit. Vachell, WJ. 
As pleased as a jay with a bean. Glou. In the vernacular, Az plazed 

az a joy with a beun. Robertson, Gloss, co. Glouc. 1890. 

Northall, FPh. ic. 
The poor peasant who satisfies his hunger with submission and 

salt pork, penitence and potatoes, is as sound as a live oak 

corporeally and as happy as a clam at high water. Dow^ 

Sermons. Cowan, PS, 34; Bartlett. 

Inglorious friend! most confident I am. 

Thy life is one of very little ease; 

Albeit men mock thee with similes. 

And prate of being "happy as a clam": J. G. Saxe, To a 

Clam. Cowan, PS. The habitat of the clam is on the coast . . . 

between high tide and low water mark. It is only gathered 

when the tide is out. When the tide is in, the clam is secure 

from molestation, and this accounts for the proverb "as happy 

as a calm at high tide," J. E. N. Brooklyn, U. S., N. & Q., 

7, VIII, 179. Only American, it would seem. 
He was a light-hearted, busy creature, overjoyed to be in a bustle, 

and as happy as the day is long. Dickens, NN., xxxviii. 

. . . looking as happy as the days are long. Hardy, DR, 370. 



Laughing, Simpering, Grinning. 

To laugh like old Bogie. Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, Z6. 
— Old B. is the devil. The term is not rec. before Barham, IL. 

To laugh like a pixy, pixies. Dev. Cor. EDD. Rec. from 18 16. 
Folk-Lore, XXXV, 84, Athenaeum, 1846, p. 1092; Wright, 
RS, 210. Pixies are supernatural beings akin to fairies, and 
the word is in popular use in the s. w. of England from 
Cornwall to Wiltshire and Dorset; rec. from 1630. NED. "They 
must have been a merry lot, since 'to laugh like a Piskie' is 
a popular saying." Hunt, 1865, ICDD. 



— 79 — 

To laugh like Robin Goodfellow. Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 
85. "This merry fay acted the part of fool or jester in the 
court of Oberon, the Fairy King." Ibid. ". . . you are that 
shrewd and knavish sprite, Call'd Robin Good-fellow: are you 
not he That . . . misleads nightwanderers, laughing at their 
harm? Shak., MND. For further references to this frolicsome 
spirit see Hazlitt, FF, 518. 

She simpers like a bride on her wedding-day. Ray. 

Lady Smart. Her tongue runs like the clapper of a mill ; she talks 
enough for herself and all the company. Neverout. And yet 
she simpers like a firmity kettle. Swift, PC, 246. Ray; Fuller 
has fnanenty-keiiie. 

She simpers like a frumetty kettle at Christmas. Folk-Lore, 
XXXV, 92. Furmety or furmity (there are about a dozen 
forms of the word) is a good old country dish much relished 
on village feast-days, and in some parts of the country it forms, 
or formed, the principal feature of Christmas-Eve's supper. 
(EDD). 

To simper like a porridge pot on the fire when it first begins to 
seethe. Nashe, Unfortunate Traveller, Lean, II, ii. 

She simpers like a riven dish. Ray. 

"Aw look at them — the two of them — grinnin' together like a 
pair of old gurgoils on the steeple." Caine, D, vii. 

So Norcott told me — grinning like a rain-shoot. Phillpotts, AP, 
406. 

To grin like a basket of chips. Grose. Lean, II, ii. 

He smiles like a basket of chips. Shropshire, early 19th c. 
N. & Q, 4, VII, 9, Cf. 'As merry as three chips.' 

To grin like a Cheshire cat. NED, N. & Q. &c. Rec. fr. 1800. 
So like a Cheshire cat our Court will grin. P. Pindar, ii, 91, 
1830. Lean. Grinning like a Cheshire cat eating cheese. EDD. 
Grinning like a Cheshire cat chewing gravel. Harland & 
Wilkinson, Lane. Leg. 1873, p. 194. "I made a pun the other 
day, and palmed it on Holcroft, who grinned like a Cheshire 
cat." Charles Lamb, Letter to Manning, ChsG, 63. See 
also "Alice in Wonderland." Brewer (Diet. 224) says that 
it is applied to persons who show their teeth and gums when 
they laugh. Query correct.^ Most people show their teeth 
when they laugh. — "Who was the naturalist who first disco- 
vered the peculiarity of the cats of Cheshire.?" Thackeray, 
Newcomes, xxiv. "Cheshire is a county palatine, and the cats, 
when they think of it, are so tickled that they can't help 
grinning". N. & Q. "Some years ago Cheshire cheeses were 
sold . . . moulded into the shape of a cat, bristles being in- 
serted to represent the whiskers. This may possibly have 
originated the saying." N. & Q., i, II, 412. Ibid, i, V, 402, 
it is ascribed to the unhappy attempt of a sign painter to 
represent a lion rampant, the crest of an influential family, on 



— So — 

the sign-boards of many of the inns. As these figures resem- 
bled cats, they were so called. There are similar cases. In 
the Wiltshire village of Charlton there was an inn called The 
Cat at Charlton. The sign of the house was originally a lion 
or some such animal, the crest of a noble family of the neigh- 
bourhood. Towards the end of the iSth c. there was in 
Houndsditch, in London, a signboard called "Two sneezing 
cats" (N. & O., 10, V, 397), and Barham, IL, 109, speaks of 
a quondam inn called the "old Cat and Fiddle". It is also 
said to be an allusion to the crest of the Grovenor family 
(a talbot). N. & O. "It is possible, however, that the arms 
of the Earl of Chester, namely a wolf's head, may have sug- 
gested the phrase, for . . . in the engraving of the coat of 
arms of Hugh Lupus, as given by Sir Peter Leycester, the 
wolf's head might very well be mistaken for that of s cat; 
whilst the grin is unmistakeable ". ChsG. — Attention must 
further be drawn to the fact that Cheshire cat is also a sou- 
briquet of a woman of that county, as is witnessed by the 
saying "a Welsh bitch makes a Cheshire cat, and a Cheshire 
cat makes a Lancashire witch," (N. & Q., 9, II, 134), which 
is supposed to represent "the harlot's progress in factory 
towns." Lean. 

To smile like a brewer's horse. Howel, 1659. Lean, II, ii. 

To simper as a miller's mare. D'urfey, 1720, Lean, II, ii. Cf. 
Sober Ch. II, and the phrase 'to work like a mill-horse.' 

To simper as a mare when she eats thistles. Swift, PC; Davies, 
Scourge of Folly, 161 4. Cf. An ass where thistles grew ex- 
ceeding rife,/ How simperingly he did a thistle gnaw. ibid. 
Lean, II, ii. 

To grin Hke a sheep's head in a pair o' tangs. Hislop, The Pro- 
verbs of Scotland, 1862, Lean, II, ii. 

"Grinning like a weasel in a trap" among keepers and others in 
the North Riding some forty years ago. N. & O., lO, XII, 
148. See Clever, p. 34; Ill-tempered, Cross. 

Mr. Sawdust then came up to them, smiling like a 'boilt haddy.' 
Lnk., EDD. See Melancholy, Gloo?ny\ Deaf, Ch. II. 



Proud, Haughty. 

For with the princes of pride the prechours dwellen; {)ei ben digne 
as \)Q. devel J^at dryppej) fro heuene, PPl. Crede, 1394, NED. 
As proud as the devil. Peele, Old Wife's Tale. 1595, Wilson, 
1691, Centlivre, 17 15. Lean, II, ii. Zo proud's tha dowl. 
Hewett, Dev. 12. Though haughty as the Diuel or his dam. 
P^ord, LM, 38. 

As proud as Lucifer. Barclay, Ship of Fools, ii, 59, 1509; 
Strange Metamorphosis of Man, 1634; Wright, Pol. Poems, 



— 8i — 

i, 315. Lean, II, ii. A true man and as proud as a lucifer. 
Hardy, MC, 173, ibid. DR, 70, FMC; Brewer, Diet. 1013, &c. 
I, being as ambitious and as proud as Lucifer's own self. 
Kingsley, WH, 163. See Isa. XIV. 12 15. Hence many re- 
ferences in MnE, e. g. And pryde proceidis of the Deuil. 
Lyndesay (Kissel) 5. Stone and iron are only dust; they will 
not endure; but the pride of Lucifer &c. Phillpotts, AP, 239. 
A poisoned race. Pride has ruined 'em; as it ruined the Devil, 
their dam. ibid. 55. — The devil and his dam. In "Christian 
mythology" the devil can have no mother, but popular belief 
has provided him with a mother or grandmother (Teufels Gross- 
mutter, fans morvior), no doubt taken over from primitive Ger- 
manic demonology. The fact that the devil's race is made 
to begin with his mother hints to a matriarchal origin of the 
idea. (Lipperheide 561). 

Lord Stafford is as proud as hell. Swift, 171 1, NED. 

Some are as proude as Nabugodonosor. 1526, NED. Dan., i-iv 
tell of Nebuchadnezzar's pride and fall. — See Mad, Crazy., 

P- 35- 

As proud as Punch. Crefton 1889, NED. Dickens, 1861, Alcott, 
Jo's Boys, 358, W. See Happy, p. ']']. 

As proud as a queen. Clarke. 

To speke as lordly as a kyng. Chaucer, RT, 93. 

She, who used to be so humble as a milk-maid, is now as proud 
as a princess. Thackeray, HE, 103. 

I felt myself as proud as any prince when she promised to 
dance. Thackeray, BL, i. Cf. the term prince-proud. Princes 
and pride have been mentioned together for many centuries, 
the earliest inst. being from c. 1350: — As princes proude 
in pride. Libeaus Desconus. W. 

As proud as a duchess. Lean, II, ii. 

As proud as any peer. Harte, Prose, II, 281. Cf. "the proudest 
peer", Shak., KH Via, V, i, 57. W. 

His feither's bought Mm a new pair o' boots an ei's as big in 'em 
as a little lord. Stf. EDD. Big = haughty, traced back to 1570. 
As bug as my lord. Line. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 408. 
As bug as a lord. Halliwell. — Bug = proud, conceited, 
rec. from 1567, is obs. in st. E. but widely prevalent in dial. 

As proud as a Lord's bastard. Ray. 

He can be as distant as a grandee. Whiteing, No. 5, 164. Cf. 
A muleteer bestrides his heast of burden with the air of a 
grandee. Longfellow, 1833, NED. 

As proud as an apothecary. Clarke, Ray. See False, p. 21. 

He that soon grows rich from a beggarly life/ Is not for my con- 
versation;/ He's as proud as a presbyter parson's wife. Or a 
newmade Corporation. A. Brome, 1664. Lean. II, ii. 

He's as bug as a Queen's coachman. Lin. EDD. 

As proud as lime-burners. Som. EDD. — Why Somerset lime- 



— 82 — 

burners should be stigmatized as the proudest people of the 
county, is very difficult to see. 

His common gait is as proud as a Spaniard's. Lodge, Wzt's Miserie^ 
1592, Lean, II, ii. Already Greville speaks of 'his Spanish 
hauture', 1628, NED, and Addison says of a person, 'He found 
him a true Spaniard, nothing but show and beggary.' 0,^. also 
Sw. 'spansk', which means something like conceited, stuck-up. 

As proud as a Mulatto in a negro congregation. Bartlett, Lean, II, ii. 

A boat was called to pull the "liberty men" ashore, and we sat 
down in the stern sheets, "as big as pay-passengers," and 
jumping ashore, set on our walk for the town . . . Cowan, 
PS, 29. A 'pay-passenger' is of course a person who pays for 
his passage as opposed to a "liberty man". The term is 
unknown elsewhere. 

As bug as a lad wiv a leather knife. Nicholson, 1889, EDD. 

As big as S. Chs. EDD. 'E's as big-sorted as ess. Shr. EDD. 
Cf. Plain, Ch. IV, and Grave, Stiff, p. 60. 

To look as big as if he had eaten buUbeef. Clarke, P. P., 1639. 
Lean, II, ii. He looks as big as bull-beef. Walker, 1690, NED. 
As big (or bold) as bull-beef Yks. EDD. — Ei went dain 
dh'street oz big az bullbeif Stf Current in several other 
counties. 

As big as bull-beef at Candlemas. Denham. Lean, II, ii. 
They had eaten bull beef and threatened highly. Gosson> 
School of Abuse, 1579, Lean, II, ii. Thou hast eaten bull, 
beef and braggest highly. Gay, Wife of Bath, 17 13, Lean, ! 
II, ii. 

Thou may'st bluster like Bull-beef so big. Wolcott, 1785, NED. 
Looking big as marquesses of all beefe. Melbancke, Philotimus, 
1583, Lean, II, ii. — "Bull's beefe is of a rank and unplea- 
sant taste, of thick, gross, and corrupt juyce, and of a very 
hard digestion. I commend it unto poor, hard labourers, and 
to them that desire to look big and live basely." Venner, 
Via Recta &c. Lean, II, ii. The idea of bull-beef or bull's 
blood being unwholesome or poisonous is found already in 
Latin and Greek writers. 

As brant as a besom. Wright, RS, 43. Brant ^=^ erect, stuck-up, 
proud, is a N. Cy word. — Does the sim. refer to the stiff 
uprightness of a "birkbesom"? Cf. Fond, p. 43, and "Drunk 
as a besom", Ch II. 

As bug as brass. War. E^DD. — Cf By God's dine, I'll take no 
wrong if he had a head as big as brass or looked as high as 
Paul's steeple. Porter, Two Angry Women, 1599, Lean, II, 
ii. Cf. "Bold as brass". 

As proud as Cole's dog, which took the wall of a dungcart, and 
got crushed by the wheel. H. — The phrase 'took the wall' shows 
that this must be a pretty old sim , although Hazlitt gives no 
authority. Several references to Cole's dog have been found: 



- 83 - 

— "The pride of old Cole's dog, who took the wall of a 
dungcart, and got his guts squeezed out." N. & Q., 4, XII, 
317. "Pride and ambition were the overthrow of Cole's dog." 
ibid. "And so like Cole's dog, the untutored nome/ Must 
neither go to church nor bide at home." ibid, (said to be in 
Taylor, the Water Poet). — Who was Cole!' Cf. 'the old cole' 
s. V. cole, sb2 NED. 

As proud as a dog in a doublet. Dekker, Shoemaker s Holiday, 
Lean, II, ii. A dog in a doublet is a phrase frequently used, 
see e. g. G. Harvey, ii, 283, also to denote something ridi- 
culously out of keeping, Harrison, Descr. of Engl. NSS. I, 
168, Notes. Killigrew writes: — "They have been at the 
Ape's Academy these six months to breed them fine gentlemen 
and yet ther's a cobler's dog in a doublet that lives in a cellar 
in the louvre has outrevelled them both ..." And Swift: — ■ 
"Then all this while I have been dubbled/ I thought it was 
a dog in doublet; The matter now no longer sticks,/ For 
statesmen never want dog-tricks." Lean, II, ii. Cf. the exclama- 
tion "Oh! 'The pride of the cobler's dog!" N. & Q. 4, IV, co. 

As proud as a dog with side-pockets. N. Cy. N. & Q., 4, III, 529. 
See Useless, Ch. IV. 

As fussy as a dog with two tails. A common saying in North 
Lincolnshire. N. & Q., 9, II, 375. /^/^j'j^ = proud, conceited in 
Yks. and Lin. 

As proud as a dog with two tails. Cor. W. Morning News, 
22 April, 1902. Northall, FPh, 10; N. & Q., 4, IV, 20. "I 
do not think [it] is very commonly used in Westmoreland". 
N. & Q., 4, IV, 20. "Hey's as big as bull beyf, an' as 
prewd as a dog wi' tow teels." Notts. N. & Q., 9, II, 144. 

As proud as a bell-horse. Robinson, Whitby Gloss. As proud as 
a horse with bells. Northall, FPh. Also 'in bells'. The horse 
is supposed to be conscious of its advanced position. Whit- 
by Gl. 

'As proud as a Horse. The sailor generally regarding that 
creature as showing so much of the devil, with all its rearings 
and prancings, and "Ha, Ha's!'" Ed. Fitz Gerald. Folk-Lore, 
XXXVII. Sflk. In this case proud probably has the connota- 
tion of grand, splendid. See Gaudy, Fine, Ch. III. 

As proud as a tame turkey. Bartlett, Lean, II, ii. As proud as 
turkey-cocks. Phillpotts, SW. 

As any peacock he was proud and gay. Chaucer, RT, 3926. &c. 
Towneley Myst., Spenser; Clarke; Ray; Thackeray, The Nezv- 
comes, W; etc. 

I found him strutting about as proud as a peacock. Doyle, 
SF, 28c. 

Men are as proud as peacocks when they put on spring plum- 
age. Baring-Gould, RS, 'j'^. 
They are as bragge and proude as pecockes. 1560, NED. 



- 84 - 

As proud as a pea-hen. Haughton, Grivi the Collier of 
Croydon, iii, 1662. Lean, II, ii. — For some further inst. see 
Lean II, ii. 

There are numerous allusions to the pride of the peacock. 
"The peacock is proudest of his fair tail." ScholcJioiise of 
Womeyi, 1541. "Thou art for pride a peacock which doth 
loathe/ To look upon her legs;" Davies, Scourge of Folly. 
Lean, IV. "Fly pride, says the peacock." Shak., CE, IV, 
iii. "Proud as a peacock; all strutt and show." H. &c. 

Ez phrood ez a banty cock. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 
He stood as brant as a bantam cock. Wm. EDD. He's as 
croose as a banty cock. Patterson, Antrim & Dovn Gloss. 
EDS.; Palmer, FE. 84. Cf. As conceitit as a banty. Cum. 1881. 

As proud as a cock on his own dung hill, Ray. For earlier inst. 
.see Skeat, EEP, 9. The first ref. is from Ancren Rhvle: — 
"As me seith: — Thet coc is kene on his owune mixenne." 
Cf. "A cok is mygty on his dongehille," Higden, Trevisa, 
vii, 5. Lean. III. On his awn midden an awd cock feights 
hard. Yorkshire Dial. 9. A cock is crouse in his own midding. 
Ray. — These proverbial phrases seem to point out that proud 
must have the connotation of 'arrogant!)' fierce and valiant.' 
The mediaeval Latin proverb said. Callus in suo sterquilinio 
niidtum potest (Callus caniat in suo sterqidlinio is another 
form). Hanen yfwes pa sooperna. Grubb, 311. Similar sayings 
in other languages as well. For modern ref. see NED and cf. 
"The inferior soul, arrogant always, like the dunghill cock, 
clamorous of the glory of dung. Masefield. CM, 31. 
I was drinking in his words and smiling away, as conceited 
as a cock on a wall. Stevenson. TI. 98; see Bold. 

As proud as a hen with one chick. Oxf. EDD; Lowsley, Berkshire 
Words, Lean, II, ii. See Busy. "Aggressively proud of an 
insignificant object." EDD. 

As proud as a magpie. Lean, II, ii. Cf. the Chaucerian 'And sche 
was proud and pert as is a pye. ReT 3950. 

As proud as a thrush. Lin. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 408. 

He was as proud as a toad with a side-pocket. — "Since my 
boyhood I have been acquainted with [this saying]." Cuthbert 
Bede, N. & Q., 5, I, 18. See Useless, Ch. IV. 

As a conceited person walks with head erect, it is said 'He walks 
as brant as a pissimire.' Yks. EDD. — FolkLore LXIX, 223 
explains this as referring to the dandelion, which in some parts 
of the country is termed pissimire. But what is there erect, 
stiff or stuck-up about a dandelion? It is far more natural 
in this connexion to think of the other word, pismire ^=^ ■s.XiX.. 

Mrs. So-and-so was as proud as a louse of her little girl. — Com- 
mon in the West Riding of Yorkshire. N. & 0.,^ 8, III, 388. 
Som.; Hewett, Dev. 12. As pert as a louse. N. & Q., 8, 
III, 418. 



- 85 - 

As bug as a lop. Lin. 1877, Folk-Loie, LXIII, 408. — Lop 

is now only dial. 
So-and-so's as brant as a yackeron. Cleveland Gloss. 64. Of a 

pompous, stuck-up individual. — He rides as brant as an 

acorn. Yks. EDD. For other sim. with acorn see Right Ch. IV, 

J)ey ben digne as ditch water J)at dogges in bayteth. PPl. Cr. 1394, 

NED. As digne (or deyne) as water in a dich. Chaucer, ReT. 

— By way of explanation NED says Cf. 'stinking with proud'. 

'Making people keep their distance', Mayhew & Skeat, MED. 

Vain. 

As vain as a girl of sixteen. Lean, II, ii. 

Frank is as vain as a girl, cousin. Talk of girls being vain — what 
are we to you? [to Colonel Esmond], Thackeray, HE, 330. 

Ask Leigh here, who has but known me a fortnight, whether I am 
not as vain as a peacock, as selfish as a fox, as imperious as 
a bona roba. Kingsley. WH, 163; N. Age, 5, X. — For sim. 
referring to a showy appearance, see Gaudy, Fine, Ch. III. 



Fastidious, Nice. 

As nice as the Mayor of Banbury. H. — Where has H. found this 
phrase, and what is the application of it? — See p. 47. 

He sat picking at it [his food] as dainty as a young lady, and the bits 
he didn't approve of he chucked away. London Mag. '15, 748. 

. . . And be as nyce in a mannys hous/ As is a catt playing with 
a mous. Colyn BlowboVs Test. Lean, II, ii. 
As dutch as a dog in a doublet. 1891, Yks. Fine, affected in 
language. EDD. Cf. To talk as Dutch as Daimport's bitch, 
in a more refined tongue than the ordinary dial. Chs. EDD. 

"... some be nyse as a nanne hen/ §et al thei be nat soo. 

some be lewde, some all be schreude/ go shrewes where thei 
goo." The Wright's Chaste Wife, 1462. H, where some further 
references are found. See also Songs 96. 

She took thentertainment of the young men/ All in daliaunce, 
as nice as a nuns hen. J. Heywood, PE, ed. Spenser Soc. 43. 
I knewe a priest that was as nice as a Nonnes Henne, when 
he would say Masse. 1553, NED. Cotgrave, 161 1. Slang. — In 
what way is a nun's hen more "nice" than other people's 
fowl? Cf. She held her head higher than ever, became more 
sententious and choice in her phrases and minced in her going, 
like a game hen. Phillpotts, WF, 98. 

As nice as a Nanny-hen. — Very affected, delicate. Slang, Halliwell. 
The term nanny-hen is unknown to other diet. There is in 
NED the unexplain£d term nannicock. As an authority for 



— S6 — 

his word Halliwell quotes na7ine hen given above. But this 
must either be nan-hen or, which is more probable, a mistake 
for nonne hen = nuns hen. 
Ez neyce ez an otter. — "Nice in this case means dainty, parti- 
cular, eating as it does only the very best part of the fish it 
kills, leaving the rest untouched on the bank." Blakeborough, 
NRY, 244. 

Jealous, Vindictive. 

She tightens up and becomes as greedy as the grave and as jea- 
lous as death. Phillpotts, WF, 250. 

As jealous as a couple of hairdressers. Trench, On the Lessons 
in Proverbs, 1853, Lean, II, ii. "I have lately heard several 
times in the south of England [this] phrase. Cf. Aussi jaloux, 
ces deux seigneurs/ L'ung de I'autre, que deux coeffeurs. La 
Batailles des Batailles, Roman Comic par C. Langlois, 172 1" 
N. & Q., 4, IV, 267. — Sous Louis XV et sous Louis XVI 
les coiffeurs ne furent moins feconde, ni moins inventifs: on 
fagonna la tete de seigneurs a Voiseaux royal, . . . a la plus tot 
fait, a la jalousie etc. Larousse. — Hairdresser is not traced 
back above 177 i. 

As jealous as a barren wife. Congreve, Old Bachelor, I, v, 1693. 

As jealous as three Bartelmy dolls in a wicker basket. N. & Q., 
4, XI, 57. Cf the term Bartholomeiv baby, a gaudily dressed 
doll, such as appear to have been commonly sold at B. Fair. 
Slang. They seem to have been regarded as a t}'pe of some- 
thing showy or fine, see Ch. Ill, but why should they also 
be looked upon as being jealous .f* 

As jealous as a cat. Torriano, 1666, Lean, II, ii. 

1 am as vindictive as an elephant. Shaw, IK, 154. Cf. They're 
a varry lungeous thing is an elephant. Yks. EDD. Lungeous =. 
ill-tempered, vindictive. 

As jealous as a turkey. Wifs Labyrinth, by J. S., 1648, Lean, 
II, ii. 

There was she, always after Adolphus, and as jealous as a hen 
with one chick. Phillpotts, WF, 436. See p. 84. 

I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over 
his hen. My affectation hath an unknown bottom like the 
bay of Portugal. Shak., AYL, IV, i, 185. See Honest, Faith- 
ful p. 12. 

She is as jealous as a crocodile. Shaw, IK, 106. 

Hard-hearted. Cruel. 

Did she have some past history, some unhappy complication of 
the affections, which made her as cold as Dian.^ Besant & 
Rice, AS, 60. Chaste, p. 13. 



\ 



- 87 - 

Look grim as hell; Shak., Oth., IV, ii, 65. 

The man's cruel as the grave an' hard as stone. Phillpotts, P. 54. 
An enemy hungry as the grave for evermore. Ibid. 186. 
An enemy as greedy and as patient as the grave. Ibid. 2C0. 
Cf. I seeke a greedy graue. Gascoigne, 1572. 

Essterday he stood in the opeway an' stared out afore him so 
grim as a ghost, Phillpotts, AP, 244. 

You're crueller than Turks. Dekker, HWh, la, vi. 

He sang her love-songs as he sat at his work,/ But she was 
as hard as a Jew or a Turk. Watts, 1729, Lean, II, ii. 
Cf. also: As fierce as a Turke. Bale, King John, c. 1550, 
Lean, II, ii. Such crueltie hath not been known/ Among the 
Turks so rude. Philotus, B. 2, 1603, Lean, II, ii. T7(?Ic has 
for ever been the embodiment of all that is cruel and ty- 
rannical. 

As cruel as a Spanyard. (W. Cornw.) The village of Paulchurch 
was burnt by them. Polwhele, Hist, of Cornw. 18 16, Lean, 
II, ii. The i6th c. relations with the Spaniards were none 
too pleasant, and traces are left in a great many phrases of 
a rather uncomplimentary character (see e. g. Swearing). 

As hard-hearted as a Scot of Scotland. Ray, Cf. He was hard 
wi' me as if I had been the wild Scot of Galloway. Hislop, 
1862; i. e. dealt with me rigorously and severely. The, 'Wild 
Scots of G.' were the Highlanders of their day in a fighting 
reputation. See Mac Taggart, Gallovidian Encycl.; Lean II, 
ii. See False, p. 22. 

As cruel as a schoolboy ere he grows to pity. Tennyson, 1842. 
NED. A common experience. 

As cold as charity. See Cold, Ch. IV. 

Since that time my wife's as cold as the statue at Charing Cross. 
I tell thee she has no forgiveness in her. Thackeray, HE, 
127. — Does this refer to the equestrian statue of Charles I, 
which in 1674 was put up on the spot where, until 1647, had 
stood the cross erected by Edward I to commemorate his queen? 

I know I am as hard as nails already; I don't want to get more so. 
Edna Lyall, Donovan, xxiii. Brewer, Diet. 
She takes pity and forgives. As for himself, he was as hard 
as nails, and the people knew it. Besant & Rice, AS, 10, 
RMM 25. 

The old stewards of manors ... as a class . . . were hard 
as nails. Jessop, 1889, NED, Benson, C. 27, 31. 
Last time I left home, I felt as hard as nails. Wells, AV, 324. 
He can be as obstinate as all the donkeys on Dartmoor when 
he pleases, and as proud as a peacock and as hard as a nail. 
Phillpotts, WF, no. Cf. "The child ain't over strong and 
healthy, such as ort to be in the Punch Bowl, where we are all 
as hard as nails." — "Aye, not in physic only." Baring- 
Gould, BS, 195. — "Hard as nails. Stern, hardhearted, 



— 88 — 

unsympathetic; able to stand hard blows like nails. Religious 
bigotry, strait-lacedness, rigid puritanical pharisaism make men 
and women hard as nails.,' Brewer, Diet. See Healthy and 
Strong, Ch. II. 

She is as hard as steel. Shak., TGV, I, i, 135. Were thy heart 
as hard as steel, ibid. KH Vic, II, i, 201; Rich. II, III, ii, in. 
"She may make a man as soft as a sponge," reflected Sapt, 
starting again, "or as hard as a bar of steel." Hope, RH, 272. 
(refers to the moon.) 

What had he left on earth but a heart trampled as hard as a 
pavement? Kingsley, WH, 189. 

Ez hard ez t'to'npike. — In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 
What is the application of this sim..f' 

I believe you have a heart as hard as the nether millstone. Black, 
1877, NED. He was supposed to be absolutely merciless, 
— as hard as a nether millstone. A. TroUope, Cald., 1879, 
Storm, EP. 604. 

His face grew hard as the nether millstone. Besant, RMM, 136. 
The more flippant you are, the more you harden my heart: 
and I want it to be as hard as the nether millstone. Shaw. 
IK, 234. 

Providence turns out this man weak as water, though good 
as gold. And another may be hard as the nether millstone 
and bad to the heart. Phillpotts, WF, 71. Cf. His [Levi- 
athan's] heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece 
of the nether millstone. Job, xli, 24, or as the Geneva Bible 
has it: His hart is as strong as a stone, and as hard as the 
nether milstone. NED. 

As hard as a bone. Fr. 1833. — Very hard, austere, unyielding. 
Slang. Dubs were as hard as ony bane. Nichol, 1837, NED. 
See Dry, Ch. IV. 

They were as untiring and as remorseless as bloodhounds. Doyle, 
AG, 329. Cf. He is a stone, a very pebble stone, and has 
no more pity in him than a dog. Shak., TGV, II, iii, 9. 
See pp. 9, II, 19, 23, 25, 39, 48 &c. 

Ez meean ez a cat wiv a moose. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. — 
Mean is used in the sense of cruel. The way a cat plays 
with its victim before killing it is the very essence of cruelty. 
ibid. 244. 

Ez soft-hearted ez a rezzil. — Implies absolute cruelty, the weasel 
lacking the smallest spark of generosity in its nature. Blake- 
borough, NRY, 243. 

With stoute Romaynes, crewel as lyoun. Chaucer. See Fierce, p. 92. 

But you are more inhuman, more inexorable,/ O, ten times more, 
than tigers of Hyrcania. Shak., KH Vic, I, iv, 154. 
There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male 
tiger. Shak., Co. V, iv, 27. 
Cruel as a tiger at heart. Phillpott, TK, 10 1. — See Fierce, p. 92. 



- 89 - 

These sim. referring to the fierceness and cruelty of tigers 
and hons are traditional, taken over from the classical poets. 

Mirry Margaret . . . Gentyl as faucon/ Or hauke of the towre, 
Skelton, 1529, Lean, II, ii. Two inst. from 1570, 16 16 ibid. 
Thy wife is as gentle as a falcon. Heywood, PE, 293. 

Cruel as an ostrich in desert. Wyclif, 1382, NED. Denham. A 
reference to the bird's supposed want of regard for its young. 
See NED. 

Ez cruel ez a spider. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Cf. the Sw. "arg 
som en spindeT . 

Ha is hardre iheorted \>en adamantines stan. 1225. Cf. They 
made their hertes as an Adamant stone. Coverdale, Zech. 
vii, 12. As in AV. For the meaning of adamantines stan 
see NED. Adamant is now only a poetical word, and denotes 
anything very hard. Cf. The young gentlemen were as ada- 
mant. Duncan, AG, 247. See p. 10. 

Have herte as harde as dyamant. Chaucer, Rom. R, 4385. 

An angel face, a serpent tongue, and a heart ... as hard 
as a diamond. Kingsley, WH, 450. This use of diamond is 
said to be obsolete (NED). 

Hard is her heart as flint or stone,/ She laughs to see me pale. 
Gay, NS. [Scrooge was] Hard and sharp as flint, from which 
no steel had ever struck out generous fire. Dickens, Christmas 
Carol, 10. My heart set as hard as flint within me. Doyle, SF, 
251. — Flint is often used in phrases to signify unrelenting 
hardness of heart, e. g. ; Let it be your glory/ To see her tears, 
but be your heart to them/ As unrelenting flint to drops of rain. 
Shak., TA, II, iii, 139. ... thy flinty heart, ibid., KH VIb, III, 
ii, 99. He . . . attempted soft disuasions. On the point, 
however, I was flint. Copping, GG, 69. Northall, FPh. — 
Cf. also: A dulness hard and cold as flints. Ford, LM, J^. 
It lies as coldly in him as flint, which will not show without 
knocking. Shak., TC, III, iii, 254. There is also the term 
jiint-heart(ed), rec. from the latter half of the i6th c. See 
True, p. II. 

Her face looked hard as granit. Harraden, Interp. 280. 

The eternal facts, hard as granit and stern as nature. Phill- 
potts, AP, 12. See True, p. 11. 

Though ye ben harder then is any ston. Chaucer, An hert as 
hard as is a stoon. ibid. Occleve, Reg. Princ, see above. 
Marlowe, Lust's Dominion, v, 3, Lean, II, ii. Rome could 
afford no tribune like to these./ A stone is soft as wax, 
tribunes more hard than stones;/ A stone is silent and offendeth 
not,/ And tribunes with their tongues doom men to death. 
Shak., TA, III, i, 44. Gay, NS. You are as hard as a stone. 
Shaw, LA, 70. 

Captain F. sat smiling, and I looked on as cold as a stone. 
Thackeray, BL, ii. 



— 90 — 

Oh, Martin, don't be cruel: You have not kissed me once. 
You are as unresponsive as a stone. London, ME, 392. Cf. 
thy stone-hard heart, Shak., KR, III, IV, iv, 227. Moor-stone 
be soft compared to her. Phillpotts, WF, 342. 

The following quotations may be added: 
She is wilder and more hard withall/ Than beast or bird, or 
tree, or stony wall. Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy, II, i. In 
MS Harl. 3277 there is almost identically the same: More 
fierce is my sweet love withall/ Then beast, or bird, then 
tree or stony wall. See Dodsley, (ed. 1825), III, 119. 

Note. Some of the numerous sim. under Hard, Ch. IV, 
are perhaps also used of hard-heartedness. 



Fierce, Angry, Mad. 

He is down upon 'em as stern as the Lord upon the jovial Jews. 

Hardy, MC, 40; Cf. And the anger of the Lord was hot 

against Israel. Judges, ii, 14, &c. 
.... looketh as fers as any fury of hell. Songs, 74. 

He'll be mad as hell [= furious, angr}']. Masefield, CM, 151. 
To-morrow do I meet thee, fell as death; To-night all friends. 

Shak., TC, IV, v, 269. Cf. the most cruel passage, and more 

fel than &\\y deth. Mel. 152. 
"You can tell me when I have worked through that," says he, 

looking as fierce as a commander. Stevenson, TI, 11. 
As wrathy as a militia officer on a training day. Bartlett, Lean, 

II, ii. Wrathy is chiefly American, Irish or Scotch, rec. in 

Thornton from 1834. 
As mad as a hatter. — Angr\'. Slang. 
As mad as a piper. Cum. F^DD. — Mad^= passionate, irascible, 

angry is now only colloquial. In American English and in many 

dial, the usual word for angry. NED. See also Thornton. 
Sence then he's been as mad as a bar-keep with a lead quarter, 

which ain't usual with Tim. White, BT, 180. A quarter is 

a quarter of a dollar. 
Usurped power that is more fierce than a Turk. Bale, Kynge John, 

c. 1550. Lean, II, ii. See Cruel, p. 87. 
As fierce as aqua fortis. Tatham, Rump, 1660. Lean, II, ii. 
As mad as a wheelbarrow. Cor. EDD. What is there mad or angry 

about a wheelbarrow.^ See Drmik, Ch. II. 
As fierce as a ram-cat. Bartlett, Lean, II, ii. Cf. Like two furious 

ramcats on the very point of clapperclawing. Irvving, 1809. 

NED. Ranicat is an Ir. and chiefly s. w. dial, term for a 

tom-cat. Not traced back above 1672. Not in Thornton. 
He was as mad as a Stamford bull, he was at that time, an' ripped 



— 91 — 

oot, while I thought he'd ha brussen hissen vvi' bad lang- 
widge. 1889, Lin., Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. See Mad p. 39. 

As lawless as a town-bull. R. The word tozvn-bull is rec. 1597 — 
1709. It was a "bull formerly kept in turn by the cow-kee- 
pers of a village." NED. But cf. "The 30th day of April in 
the year of our lord 1666. — Hereafter foUoweth a note of 
such anchant Customs as hath bin used within the parish of 
St. Martin's . . . Art. i. The Parishioners of the said Parish 
ought to have, by thare custom, of thare parson or his Proctor 
under him, a Bull alwaie remaining upon the Gleab of the 
Parsonage of St. Martin's aforesaid, for the necessary use at 
all times when the occasion shall sarve." N. & Q., 5, X, 354. 
— There are some proverbial phrases referring to the town- 
bull: — A thing that will happen at "Latter Lammas" is to 
take place when "the town-bull is a bachelor." See also Dull 
p. 54. 

Others, again, we have, like hungry lions,/ Fierce as wild bulls, 
untameable as flies. Dekker, HWh, la, xii. Cf. Warwick 
rages like a chafed bull. Shak., KH Vic, II, v, 126. 
As rank as a bull. Ymage of Hypocrisy, 2059, 1533, Lean, 
II, ii. Rank ^=. \'\o\Q.n\.. In some Midland counties it still means 
vexed, passionate. 

As fell as a bull, Lin. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. — Fell:= 
savage, angry. Cf. the expression 'a bull in a china shop'. 
See Ill-tenipered, p. lOi. 

She foameth like a boar, the beast should seem bold;/ For she is 
fierce as a Lion of Cotsolde./ She frieth in her own grease, 
but as for my part,/ If she be angry, beshrew her angry heart. 
Heywood, PE, 44. Then will he look as fierce as a Cotsold 
lyon. Udall, RRD, 68. Castus is as furious as a Lyon of Cotsold. 
Porter, Two Angry Women, 1599, Lean, II, ii. — This must 
refer to anger and fierceness of the hen-muck kind. See below. 
A Cotsold, or Cotswold lion is a 'lion with a white face', 
frequently seen about the Cotswold hills in Gloucester, a long- 
wooled breed of sheep. The term is obsolete since the early 
17th c. For some further inst. see Lean. 

As mad as a tup. Derbyshire. N. & Q., 9, VIII, 501. 

As mad as a tup in a halter [hauter]. Jackson & Burne, 595, 
Chs. EDD. Cf. An old tup-headed ass. Scott, A, 64. 
As savage as a tup. Northall, PTh, ii. — "In Derbyshire 
there is no commoner saying to express anger. . . A tup is 
a ram, and its furious onslaughts upon an intruder at a certain 
season of the year has produced the saying." N. & Q. 

As angrie as an a.sse with a squib in his breech. Cotgrave, 161 1. 
NED. 

J)e sargantz J)at ware brem als bare. c. 1300, NED. 

He come to me as breme as bere. c. 1420. NED; inst. 1550, 
1650 ibid. As brym as a boar. 1575, Lean, II, ii. Cf. Else 



— 92 — 

will he come, — never bore so brymme, not toste so hot. 

Udall, RRD, 6-j . 

As wode as wild bore. c. 1400, NED. 

He was fierce as forest-boar. Butler, H., 52. 

Have I not heard the sea puff'd up with winds/ Rage like an 

angr\' boar chafed with sweat? Shak., TS, I, ii, 196. — Brcnie 

is obs. since the middle of the 17th c. except in dial. For 

the modern dial, sense of the word see EDD. 

As angry as an ape. Montgomery, The Cherrie and the Slave, 
1597, Lean, II, ii. 

As savage as a bear with a sore head. Marryatt, 1830, NED. 
See Ill-tevipered p. 102. As savage as a bear. Lean, II, ii. 
And one doth whisper soft in another's eare/ And sayth this 
tiran is feller than a bear. Barclay, Eel. i., ante 1530. Lean, 
II, ii. 

As fiers as leoun pulled out a swerd. Chaucer, KnT, 740 &c. 
Thus Wallace ferd als fers as a lyoun. 1470, NED. But "as 
the Proverb sayth. The lion is not so fierce as he is painted." 
See also Hulme, NH, 117. 
The poytevins were fel like lyons. Mel. 200. 
Lyk any lyoun he was als brym and bald. Stewart, 1535, 
NED. 

Rampand lyke any wyld Lyoun. Lyndesay, (Kissel) 35, where 
several similar instances are referred to fr. c. 1550. — There 
are many proverbial and allusive phrases that speak of the 
lion's fierceness &c. See NED. 

Ralph being by this time as furious as a baffled tiger, made for 
the door. Dickens, NN, liv. 

Quick and fierce as a tiger-cat, the girl sprang on the ruffian. 
Kingsley, WH, 379. Cf. She'd flee at me like a Bengal teegur. 
Eraser, 1895, Lnk, EDD. Fierce persons have also been called 
tigers from Dunbar's time. 

As mad as a March hare. Ant. EDD. 

It pits me aye as mad's a hare. Burns, 1784, EDD. See 
Mad, Crazy p. 40 f. 

As fierce as a buck-rat. 1S77, NED. A buck-rat is a male rat. 
The term is probably not very common. 

He is naturally as mad as a beaver, and will scold like a ter- 
magant. 1809, Thornton. See Busy. 

They . . . managed the Dispute as fiercely as two Game-cocks 
in the Pit. Locke, 1693, NED. There may have been pro- 
verbial sim. resembling this phrase in the good old cock- 
fighting days. 

As fierce as hen-muck. — Fierce but harmless. Yks. EDD. 

Hot's the matter then? Why thee art so wild's a cock-goose. — 
A very common jeer to an irascible person. Som. EDD. 
As fierce as a goose. Ray. — Probably also a very harm- 
less kind of fierceness. 



— 93 — 

As fierce as a dig. — "The expression is used proverbially in 
Lan., I believe." N. & Q., 2, XII, 309. Another cor. ibid. 
511, says, "A dig is a duck in Lancashire, but I never heard 
the proverb." 

As mad as a coot. — A w. Cornwall saying meaning that the 
person was excessively angry. N. & Q., 2, II, 307. See p. 42. 

Fierce as a startled adder. Pope, Diinciad, IV, 373. 

As full of anger as a blown toad. Chs. EDD. See Antipathy 
and Ill-tempered p. 103. 

As mild as a hornet. Smyth, Berkeley MSS, 1639, Lean, II, ii. 

Now merry as a cricket and by and by/ Angry as a wasp. Hey- 
wood, PE, 31. Gascoigne's Steel Glass, 1576, H. 
Ez savage ez a wasp. Blakeborough, NRY, 240; in daily use. 
As mad as wasp. Chs. Gl.; a common saying. — Cf. the 
adj. zvaspish. 

He is as angry as a pissemyre,/ Though that he have all that he 
can desire. Chaucer, SoT 1825. Cf. Busy. 

As mad as hops. American. Ware. "But he was angry — 
"madder'n hops" in his own vernacular. London, DS, 53, 
Such a grin! It made me mad as hops. 1884, NED. 

This sim. is not known to Lean or H., and to judge 
from the inst. it must be chiefly American. — What is hops.^ 
NED gives the sim. s. v. hop sb. i, but adds [} with play on 
hop sb. 2), i. e. the sim. refers to the plant but at the same 
time it has the connotation that a person who is 'as mad as 
hops' is also just as furious as if he were 'hopping mad', as 
the old saying has it {rec. already 1675), so enraged that he 
could hop and dance about. This is of course possible, but 
it does not tell us anything as to how the sim. originated. 
What has given rise to it.? It must be one of these two 
words unless we are to believe in the existence of some third 
word hop not registered by NED (see 'as fast as hops,' Ch. 
IV.). Which is it.? The expression Jioppiitg wrt^^ would seem 
to be an argument in favour of the latter word hop, but the 
very form of the word in the sim. and its use in other respects 
render it highly improbable that this sb. is intended. But 
in what way could the hop-plant come to be regarded as a 
type of madness or anger.? It is true that the old 16th c, 
herbalist Lyte (see Britten & Holland, EPN, 267), called the 
male plant Wild Hops. But as wild in this case simply means 
uncultivated, it cannot have occasioned the phrase. In all 
sim. it is the essential nature and the inherent character and 
qualities of the second member rather than its more or less 
occasional attributes that have created the sim. There must 
be something in the word hops itself that is suggestive of 
madness at least in some sense of the adj. mad. 

The "scientists" of olden times commonly believed that a 
great many plants, without being poisonous in the modern 



— 94 — 

sense of the word, could have a baleful influence upon human 
life. According to the old Latin verse Cum faba florescit, 
stultorujH copia crescit, it was thought that beans, or at least 
sleeping in a bean-field, caused madness. A plant having this 
effect might itself be called mad, but nothing" of this kind 
seems to be known about the hop. The word is not traced 
back above the end of the 15th c. This indicates that al- 
though the plant must have been known much earlier, as is 
witnessed by the words humbletoft and humbleyard, which are 
said to occur in Proinptorium Parvulorum (N. & Q., 2, II, 335; 
see Prompt. Parv., ed. Camden Soc. p. 245, where we read ''■hops 
hoppe, sede for beyre, Htimidtis secundum e.xtraneos."), it cannot 
have played any very important part in medieval "medicin". 
We know that in the reign of Henry VI it was represented 
by physicians as being unwholesome and "noxious", which 
caused a petition to be made against the "wicked weed called 
hops", and in 1528 their use is said to have been prohibited 
under severe penalties. (N. & Q., 2, II, 244; according to 
Prompt. Parv., ed. Camden Soc, no record of this prohibition 
has been found). Fuller, in his Worthies, art. Wessex, refers 
to this and says, "They are not so bitter in themselves as 
others have been against them, accusing hops for noxious; 
preserving beer but destroying those who drink it. Their 
back-friends also affirm, the stone never so epidemical in Eng- 
land since the general reception and use of hops in the be- 
ginning of the reign of Henry VIII." — Hops have also been 
supposed to induce sleep (Dyer, FLP). But nothing can be 
deduced from these items to explain the saying. But on the 
other hand "As bitter as hops, as sleepy as hops" would be 
pretty clear and intelligible. 

But all these considerations are perhaps altogether beside 
the mark. If it is one of the numerous American additions to 
English phraseology, it can have nothing to do with i6th c. 
"science". It may either be a creation of the prolific Ameri- 
can mind, and to seek anything rational about it would 
perhaps be just as sensible as to invite the Man in the Moon 
to one's next party. Or perhaps behind the sb. hops there 
is some other word, unknown and forgotten now, which has 
been changed by popular etymology and associated with the 
plant-name. See Quick, Ch. IV. 

He's as sharp as thorn, and fretful carries hay in's horn. Herrick, 
1646, NED. See Sharp, Ch. III. 

As mad as a hedge. Yks. EDD. Cf. the extensive pejorative use 
of hedge; see p. 18. 

Turnus hym self as fers as ony gleid. Douglas, 161 3, NED, 
Gleed is frequently used in sim. in late ME and early MnE. 
See Red, Ch. Ill, Hot, Ch. IV. 

As fel as any fire. Skelton, Why Come ye 7iot to Court. 



— 95 — 

As wroth as the wind. Allit. Poevi 07i Deposition of Rich. II. 

p. 20 (Camden Soc). Lean, II ii. For further ref. to sim. 

phrases see ibid. 
What sayes our sonne, how doe you finde him? — Alas my lord, 

as raging as the sea. Shak., Hamlet, IV, i, q. i. 

The time and my intents are savage-wild, 

More fierce and more inexorable far 

Than empty tigers or the roaring sea. Shak., RJ, V, iii, 37. 



Ill-tempered, Spiteful, "Contrairy", Obstinate. 

As ill-conditioned as old Nick. Northall, FPh., 9. — On different 
terms for the devil see p. 31. 

Shay's as nasty as the devil unknobbed. (i. e. a devil who 
has either never had any knobs fastened on his horns or else 
has succeeded in getting rid of them. "The phrase well illu- 
strates the bovine character of the popular 'devil.'") Evans, 
Leicestershire Words & Phrases, 1881, Folk-Lore, XXX VII. 
"This weather'd make a man mad enough to eat the devil 
with his horns left on". White, BT, ']6. 

Sits sour as the devil, when all around him are joyous. 1824, 
Gall. EDD. Holloa, Bill! Hot's the matter.? Maister comed 
out benow lookin' so hugly's the devil. W. Som. Gloss. 785. 
He's as faal as the Dule. 1889, EDD. Foul =^ foul-tempered 
occurs in Chs. Yks. Lan. Nots. Lin.; not known to st. E. 

They . . . bowed civilly if folk took aff their bannets as they 
gaed by, and lookit as black as sin at tham that keepit them 
on. 1827, NED. See p. 22, and Black, Ch. III. 

As cross as a witch. De?ihavi Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 84. — 
This sense of cj^oss is traced back to 1639, NED. 

As sour as Hector. — A common saying. Lakel. EDD. Cf. the 
verb 'to hector' and Shameless. 

You are grown as crabbed as old Periwinkle, the drunken tinker. 
SmoUet, RR, 125. — Does this refer to any proverbial figure 
called P.? There is in Mrs. Centlivre's play A Bold Stroke 
for a Wife, I'Ji'J, a character called Periwinkle. He is 'posi- 
tive and surly' but is said to be a 'silly, half-witted virtuoso', 
which term can hardly be applied to a tinker. — On the 
origin and the sense-development of crabbed see NED, and 
for an etymological curiosity Palmer, FE, 81. 

As quarrelsome as a tinker. NED; mentioned but no inst. given. 
Yo're as natthert as two tinkers. Natthert = nattered = ill- 
tempered. Lan. 1864, EDD. 

As bluff as a midnight constable. Mrs. Centlivre, 1705, NED. 
Bluf='h\g, surly, blustering'; earliest inst. in NED. 

As ill-natured as an old maid. Congreve, Old Bachelor, v, 1693; 
ill-natured := churVish, spiteful fr. c. 1650, NED. 



- 96 - 

As spiteful as an old maid. Bohn. — Cf. The Grossest of 
old maids, Sala, i860, NED. You know the cross-grained 
old-maidenly sort of person that fiite is. Mrs. Cafifyn, 1896, 
NED, &c. 

You are as contrarious as a woman. Mason, PK, 35. 

I'd be as techy as a child. ]3onaldson, 1809, EDD. Techy = touchy. 
As teedy as a child. — Teedy = teaty (teety) is a Sc. and N. 
Cy word meaning peevish, fretful, cross, chiefly used of children. 
We are fretful as babies whose regimen of quiet must still 
be adapted to their appetite for noise. Whiteing, No. 5, 134. 

D3'er turned on his heel and went out. ''Sore as a boil, ain't 
he!" commented old Jackson Hines with a chuckle. White, 
BT, 69. Sore, = irritable, touchy, rec. fr. the end of the 
17th c. 

He got so touchy as proud flesh, an' told me to run out of his 
sight. Phillpotts, AP, 245. 7'^;/f/;;' =z easily moved to anger 
fr. c. 1600. The term proud flesh is used already by Lanfranc. 

As short as a Marchington wake-cake. Stf; used of a woman's 
temper. "A certain sort of Wake-cake has passed into a 
proverb. — A Wake is a local carnival coupled with the 
name of the village, or with that of the patron saint of the 
parish church or the aniversary of the church opening or 
consecration." Wright, RS, 305. 

She is as crusty as that is hard baked. Somers. Ray. Cf. You 
need not be so crusty, you are not so hard bak'd. ibid. This 
is already in Lj^ly, Mother Bombie: You need not be crustie, 
you are not so hard backt. NED. His loaves, which are 
crusty, and his temper, which is not. Mitford, 1830, NED. 

You two never meet but you fall to some discord: you are both 
as rheumatic as two dry toasts; you cannot one bear with 
another's confirmities. Shak., KH IVb, II, iv, 51. This is 
probably a misapplication of Mistress Quickly's, but we 
know that rJicwn and spleeji were sometimes confounded (see 
Foster, s. v.). C^. also 'as hot as a toast.' 

Hoo's wurr nor a barrel o' seawr ale. Lan. EDD. 

His heart was bitter as wormwood. Baring-Gould, BS. 112. Cf. 
If she is bitter to me, she is sloes and wormwood to the 
servants, ibid., RS, 16. Bitter is applied to a person who is 
constitutionally unable to see anything but the darkest side of 
things, and who, in consequence, is extremely peevish, sour, 
cross-grained, and likely to let his ill-temper get the better 
of him, especially when his pet grievances are touched. — 
The phrase is of biblical origin: — For the lips of a strange 
woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother 
than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood. Prov., V, 4. 
Wormwood fig. for bitterness at least fr. Shak., LLL, V, ii. 

A testy old huntsman as hot as a peppercorn. Irving. 1822, NED. 
As hot as pepper, Lean, II, ii. 



— 97 - 

— Some of the numerous sim. under Hot, Ch. IV, are perhaps 
also applied to a hot or viole7it-tempered person. 

He is as hot as Dick's pepper-box. — According to Chaffers 
(Hist, of Porcelain &c. 3rd edit. 543), this saying originated with 
Mr. Richard Chaffers, the eminent Liverpool potter. H. — 
Pepperbox used of a hot-tempered person, Kingsley, 1867, 
NED. 
As peppery as Durham Mustard. — A proverbial saying ex- 
tremely applicable to persons of hot temperament, especially 
those of feminine gender. Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 
39. — The City of Durham is famous for seven things: Wood, 
Water, Pleasant Walks, Law, Gospel, Old Maids, and Mustard. 

— At no very distant epoch, Durham was highly celebrated 
for the manufacture and superior quality of its mustard; but 
now, alas! other places . . . have superseded it, and at the 
present day: — 

Its honours are gone, and its glories are flown. 
And it is no longer a fam'd mustard town ! 
Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 51. — NED has no inst. 
of this sense o{ peppery before 1861, and the fig. use of the 
adj. is not rec. earlier than 1826. Cf. p. 32. 

As sour as eysel. Lan. — I have heard Lancashire persons for- 
merly make use of this expression. Gaskell, 1854, EDD. 
Eysel, eisel is obsolete in st. E since the early 17th c. 

A man must from his beginning be crooked to his wife; be you 
like an orange to her, let her cut you never so fair, be you 
sour as vinegar. Dekker, HWh, lb, Cf. He . . . from his 
sower Looks is commonly called Vinegar Jones. Hearne, 
1720, NED. His house-keeper was a vinegary woman., Baring- 
Gould, RS, 15. Cf. Shak., MY, I, i, 54. 

Fie is as sour as crab-varjus. Wm. Shr. EDD. 

As sour as varjus. Excessively sour; fig. very ill-tempered. Lan. 
As sour as wherr. Lan. See Sour, Ch. IV. — Crab-varjus 
{= verjuice) is the juice of crab-apples. Wherr (wharre) = 
crab-apple or crab-verjuice. Crab-verjuice is known from the 
middle of the i8th c, but cf. As a man would wryng ver- 
iuce out of crabbes. Tindale, 1536, NED. 

She lookes as sowerly, as if she had beene new squeased out of 
a crab orenge. Marston, 1606, NED. 

She's forty, and as tough and as sour as this bit of lemon-peel. 
Thackeray, BS, xxxiii. 

[Ellas] Bitter as a lemon about girls. Phillpotts, WF, 152. Cf. 
You ask me with a voice all lemon . . . ibid. 416. 

As cross as Dick's hatband. Wor. EDD. 

All across like Dick's hatband. — We only apply it as a 
comparison for what is obstinate and perverse. Shr. EDD. 
As awkward as Dick's hatband. Yks. EDD. 
The maister's in a way this morning, 'e's as crukit as Dick's 



- 98 - 

hatband. Used both of persons and things that are perverse 
or unmanageable. Burne, SF, 592 f.. 1883. — The phrase 
has possibly also a wider application. See EDD. s. v. Crooked. 
As twistit as Dick's hatband. Shr. T^c/j-/// =3 twisted =r cross. 
As contrary as Dick's hatband. Shr. KDD; Carruth, Kansas 
Univ. Quart. 1892, I. 

As curst as Dick's hatband, which will come nineteen times 
round, and won't tie at last. Shr. EDD. 

Zummet or nother had putt'n out; ... he hardly spoke a 
dozen words to me, and was as queer as Dick's hatband, 
I. W., EDD. — This form has also a wider application, 
which appears from the following insts., "Anything ridiculously 
comical is said to be as queer &c." Lin. N. & Q, 1856, 238. 
I am as queer as Dick's hatband; that is, out of spirits, or 
don't know what ails me. Grose, 1796. NED. 
As queer as Dick's hatband, that went half way round and tied 
in the middle. Oxf., from about 1850, N. & Q., 8, XII, 171. 
He's as queer as Dick's hatband; it went twice round and 
would not tie. — This phrase is used in the north of Eng- 
land of young people who are very talkative or boastful of 
what they can do. N. & Q., 8, XII, 37. 

Queer as Dick's hatband, that went nine times round an' 
wouldn't tie; said of any person or thing that is well-nigh 
impossible to manage. Common in many counties. Line. 
1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 410; N. & Q., 8, XII, 37. Wright, 
RS, 163, has the same phrase but adds 'at last.' NED gives 
a Newcastle form of 1850, which has 'wouldn't meet.' 
As queer as Dick's hatband, that went nine times round his 
hat, and was fastened by a rush at last. N. & Q., i, I, 475. 
As queer as Dick's hatband, made of pea-straw, that went 
nine times round, and would not meet at last. Miss Baker, 
Gloss., 1854, p. 79. H. According to Halliwell and Brewer 
it was made of sand; cf. 'a rope of sand.' — Collars or 
chaplets of straw were formerly used by pilgrims. N. & Q., 
Nov. 1849, p. 25. 

For the sake of convenience all the other forms of the 
sim. that have been found will be given here: 
As fause as Dick's hatband. Shr. EDD. 
As fond as Dick's hatband. Yks. Chs. EDD. See p. 43. 
As tight as Dick's hatband. Pem. N. & Q., 2, II, 238. 
As fine as Dick's hatband. Wilbraham, Cheshire Gl. 1836. 
'Odd as Dick's hatband' is a well-known colloquial expression 
in New England. N. & Q., 8, XII, 96. 

Dun'ee call that dressin' a child? Jest look at its cape, all 
awry like Dick's hatband. Nhp. EDD. 

"This singular phrase, slightly varying in form and appli- 
cation, appears to be widely circulated and has travelled even 
to the United States . . ." (see Bartlett). Miss Baker, North. 



— 99 — 

Gloss., 1854. The sim. seems to be obsolete as a colloquialism 
in St. British English, and must belong exclusively to dial, 
and Am. The earliest known inst. is the one from Grose. 
The oldest as well as the most common form is 'as queer Sec.', 
which makes it probable that this is the original form. 

Tajlor, OM, 52, says, "There were no Bands worn till 
King Henry the eights time; for he was the first king that 
ever wore a band in England, 15 13." As a matter of fact 
hatbands were known at least 100 years earlier (NED). They 
were not altogether forgotten in Dickens's time, if we are to 
believe the Pickzvick Papers: ". . . attached to his hat, which 
he still retained on his head, was a hatband measuring about 
a yard and a half in length." PP, 11, 397. This also shows 
that a hatband going more than once round a hat is by no 
means a ridiculous exaggeration. 

Hatbands must have been very important articles of attire 
to judge from the way they are spoken of by old writers. 
To wear a hat without a band was a mark of excentricity. 
See Rowland, Letting of Humours blood, Ci, 1600, McKerrow, 
Notes, 246. Cf. "... to go without money, without garters, 
without girdles, without a hatband, without points to my hose." 
Nashe, III, 233, 1593. "Put off to none, unless his hatband 
be of a newer fashion than yours, and three degrees quainter; 
but for him that wears a trebled Cyprus about his hat, though 
he were an alderman's son, never move to him: for he is 
suspected to be worse than a Gull, and not worth the putting 
off to, that cannot observe the time of his hatband, nor know 
what fashioned block is most akin to his head: for in my 
opinion, the brain that cannot choose his felt well, being the 
head ornament, must needs pour folly into all the rest of his 
members, and be an absolute confirmed fool in sunmia totali." 
Dekker, GH, 39. (A trebled cyprus was probably a hatband 
of cypress that went three times round the hat). "A Hat 
with a Black and Gold coloured Silk hatband of the new 
twisted fashion." 1685, NED. (The Elizabethan hat generally 
had a twisted band, sometimes several bands, or one band 
many times round the hat. See Ashdown, British Costume, 
239, 244. During the first half of the i8th c. there were some- 
times hats with a broad band of twisted black cloth sur- 
rounding them. Fairholt, Costume in England, 366). 

This seems to make it probable that the saying originated 
from some actual hatband at least three degrees quainter than 
usual and worn by some character either real or fictitious (in 
play or ballad). 

Nothing seems to be known about this Dick. NED thinks 
it must be some local character or half-wit, whose droll sayings 
were repeated. But this is beside the mark as none of the 
forms of the sim. refer to any "droll sayings". It is his hat- 



— 100 — 

band that is queer {^=i quaint, twisted?). According to Brewer, 
Dick's hatband refers to Richard CromweU's crown that did 
not fit him. His elaborate account (p. 352) is rather a ridi- 
culous construction, which does not start ivom facts. It is true 
that Richard Cromwell was held up to ridicule in ballads and 
popular rhymes, and that Tiimble-dozvn-Dick seems to have 
become proverbial, but there is not the slightest evidence of 
any connection between such taunts and nicknames and our 
phrase. What Brewer says on the subject makes it clear 
that he did not understand the growth of a popular phrase of 
this kind. "As queer as Dick's hatband" is probably the origi- 
nal form, from which the others developed. 'As Dick's hat- 
band' was added first to synonyms of the different senses of 
queer and gradually also to other adjectives belonging more 
or less to the same sphere. The insts known are probably 
only a small part of the general crop of proverbial growth 
around 'Dick's hatband', and some may still be found, al- 
though most of it has become obsolete. The additions to 
the original simple form were made to explain the queerness 
of Dick's hatband. 

The occurrence of the phrase in America also possibly 
points to its having had some other source than the allusion 
to Richard Cromwell. "The English ancestors of the New 
England folk — nearly all of them — came here in the latter 
part of the reign of Charles I. If they brought the expression 
with them, which I do not doubt, it antedates by man}' years 
R. Cromwell." J. G. W., Hartford, Conn. N. & O., 8, XII, 
96. Cf. '"That's like Dick's hatband" is common enough in 
Craven. I think it may have originated, like many of our 
popular sayings, from a character in some defunct farce or 
opera.' N. & 0., 4, VI, 487. See above. 

Thornton is as dour as a door-nail; an obstinate chap. Gaskell, 
1854, NED. Z>^/^r :i= obstinate is, it would seem, chiefly a Sc. 
and N. Cy sense of the word (EDD, NED). See Hard as 
nails, p. 87. 

As cross as the tongs. Baker, N'hants Gloss. Lean, II, ii. — A 
very common type of sim., in which the adj. has two meanings, 
a matter-of-fact sense and a fig. one. Cross referring to the 
tongs means 'having its component parts lying athuart each 
other'. 

He's got a surface flow of suavity, but he's rough as a hoof- 
rasp underneath. London, SS, 164. 

He is as stunt as a hamner. — Short in manner, blunt. Lin. Folk- 
Lore, LXIII, 411 (1866, 1877). ^7/w/:::^ obstinate, sulky, 
chiefly in Yks. Lin. 

As stunt as a geevelock, as stifi" as a crowbar. Yks. Cf. Ston 
as stiff as gablock. Lan. EDD. 



— lOI — 

He's as stunt as a burnt whang. -— Tl\e're'."i -no. tuihin-^^ hin; ob- 
stinate. Halliwell. 

As tough as a burnt wong. s. e. Lin. N. & Q., 2, II, 279. 
Thomson, 1856, EDD. — Whang (also weng) is the Sc. form 
of thong, OE pwang. If burnt and schrivelled it must be still 
more unflexible than otherwise. 

For I know Fluellen valiant/ And, touched with choler, hot as gun- 
powder. Shak., KH V, IV, vii, 168. 

As black as Newgate is said of a street lady's lowering conte- 
nance, or of her muslin dress, when either is changed from 
the natural serene. Bee, Diet. Turf. &c. 1823. Cf. False as 
Neivgate p. 23. 

As cross as nine highways. Bohn. Why nine? 

Contrary as Wood's dog, that wouldn't go out, nor yet stop at 
home. Suss. N. & Q. 1880, Aug. 28. Cf. Like Wood's dog, 
he'll neither go to church nor stay at home. Ray. — Nothing 
seems to be known about this Wood. 

As surly as a butcher's dog. Ray. This probably refers to the 
breed of dog mentioned by NED. Cf All kind of dogges . . . 
Butchers dogs, Bloudhounds, Dung-hill Dogges. 1597, NED. 

As caingy and cankery as an ill-clep'd cur. Clevel. Gl. 83. Caingy, 
a N. Cy word, ^ ill-tempered, peevish. Cankery {=.cd,v^y, 
cankered) has the same meaning. 7//-^:/^//^^=: ill-conditioned, 
surly. Cf. ill-contrived: "I knows her, a sour-looking, ill-con- 
triv'd old bitch. Som. EDD. 

That makes the Old Fellow as sore as a scalded pup. White, 
BT, 180. 

I am holden, quod he, as hende as hounde is in kychyne, Lang- 
land, P. PI., V, 261. See Skeat, EEP, 44, where it is rendered: 
"I am considered, quoth he, (to be) as courteous as a dog in 
a kitchen. Cf. the Fr. Mauvais chien ne veut iamais cotnpagnon 
en aiisine, a churl cannot endure a companion in his gainful 
imployments. Cotgrave." Cf. Dum canis os rodit, sociari plti- 
ribus odit. Sellert, 12. 

As cross as a cat. Lean, II, ii. 

As wilful as a pig, he'll neither lead nor drive. Ray. Cf. "Neither 
lead nor drive". An untoward, unmanageable person. Ray. 
As contrary as ever was a hog. Sus. EDD. She's obstinate 
as a pig. Besant & Rice. AS, 40. Cf A conthrairy pig 
going to market. Ir. 1842, EDD. The obstinacy of pigs is 
proverbial. 

As surly as a bull. Ch. Gl. As surly as a cow's husband, ibid. 
See p. 90 f. 

You know my brother long ago, that he is as stiff as a mule. 
Burnet, 1715, NED. 6"//^:= obstinate, stubborn. 
She was as obstinate as a mule on that point. Mrs. Edge- 
worth, 1 81 2, NED. He can be as obstinate as all the donkeys 
on Dartmoor when he pleases, and as proud as a peacock 



102 — 

and ?.s. 'iar4 a^- ,a-i.ail. Phillpotts, WF, no, Fox, TG, 27. 

The fellow were as stubborn and stupid as a pot-mule. 

Yoxall, RS, 19, 189. — What is a pot-mule? Not in NED, 

EDD. 

There he stood as stoont as a mule. Yks. EDD. 

He's as stunt as an ass. Yks. EDD. Ci". also 'As stupid as 

a mule', where sttipid means pig-headed, obstinate. — Cf. 

Obstinate is no word for it, for she is mulish. Ouida, 1881, 

EDD. "With no good grounds, the mule is a proverbial type 

of obstinacy." NED. Cf eiivis som en asna. 

As savage as a bear with a sore head. Marryat, 1830, NED; 
{also scalt head), unreasonably ill-tempered. Brewer. 
As cross as a bear with a sore head. Bohn; Brewer. 
As sulky as a bear with a sore head. N. & O., 4, VI, 321. 
Krabud-z u bae'ur wai u zoo'ur aid. — A very common ex- 
pression of a person out of temper. The usual superlative 
absolute. Elworthy, WS. He got glum and surly as a bear 
with a sore head. Phillpotts, TK, 50. A businessman . . . 
will enter his house for dinner as crabbed as a hungry bear. 
Holland, 1861. NED. 

As rough as a Russian bear. Tavlor, Cast Over Water, Lean, 
II, ii. 

You could soon have made him as crabbed as a bear. Hardv, 
TM, 41. 

As cross as a bear. Brewer. — It is rather noteworthy that 
there are no earlier insts. of this sim., which must have its 
origin "from that nurse of barbarism and beastliness, the Bear- 
garden, where upon their usual days those demimonsters, are 
baited by bandogs, the Gentlemen of Stave and Tail, namely, 
boisterous butchers, cutting cobblers, hard-handed masons, and 
the like, rioting companions, resorting thither with as much 
freedom as formerly making with their sweat and crowding a 
far worse stink than the ill-formed beasts they persecute with 
their dogs and whips . . ." AR, 4; see Clever, 33, MelaJi- 
choly, Ill-tempered p. 55. Cf "To speak bear-garden." Ray. 

Thah'rt as fow as a vixen wi' a sore yed. Chs. EDD. Foiv, 
(foul) angry, ill-tempered. 

As sullen as a new-caged beast. Tennyson, 1859, NED. 

As stubborn as an elephant's leg, no bending in her. Rowley, All's 
Lost, ii, 1633, Lean, II, ii. 

Risty as a badger. Hewett, Dev. 12. Risty (reesty, reasty), a 
dial, form of resty (restive) meaning ill-tempered. The badger's 
fierce and stubborn defence of its hole is well-known. 

As croos as a fitchet. Som. Jennings, 1825, EDD. 

Ould Terence was waiting' as cross as a weasel up undher the 
hedge. Barlow, 1901. Ir. EDD. — Biddy O'Rourke did be 
sometimes as cross as a weasel, ibid. 1898. Cf Ready in gibes, 
quick-answered, saucy, and/ As quarrellous as the weasel. 



— 103 — 

Shak., Cy, III, iv, 159. A weasel hath no such a deal of 
spleen/ As you are toss'd with. Shak., KH IVa, II, iii, 75. 
See p. 34. 

I've grown so touchy as a rat in a trap. Phillpotts, P. 306. 

He is as croose as a banty-cock. O'c^Ji'^ = sharp-tempered, touchy. 
Banty-cock :=. bantam cock. See Proud, p. 84 

As testy as an old cock. Ray. — Testy = short-tempered, pee- 
vish rec. fr. 1526. 

Zo tatchee's a old broody 'en. Hewett, Dev. 12. Broody z=r. 
inclined to sit. 

As crabbed as an old cuckoo. Wm. EDD, 

As awkward as a groundtoad. Peacock, Lin. Gl.; Lean, II, ii. 
As fow as a toad. Der. EDD. Cf. I nivver zeed zich a 
tachy, ill-conceived little twoad in awl my life. Dev. 1892, 
EDD. Well, SOS, ef yu bant the most contrary twoad I ivver 
met wi'. Dev. EDD. A cross-grained old woman is "a re- 
gular old toad, an ugly old toad." War. EDD. See Stupid, 
p. 52, Strong and Healthy, Ch. II. 

He was as bitter as a hagworm. Yks. Hagworni is a northern 
word for the viper. NED. 

As full of spite and ill nature as a spider with poyson. Wroth, 
162 1, NED. The poison of the spider is frequently alluded 
to in literature. Cf From the same flower . . . whence the 
Spyder . . take their poison. Lodge, 1579. NED. If you 
were ten times more a spider than you are, 3'ou could suck 
no poyson from them. Chillingworth, 1638, NED, &c. 

He is as teachy as any wasp. Perkins, 1639, NED. See Clever, 
35. ^ngyy, p. 93- 

As stunt as a dead worm. Lin. 1877. Folk-lore, LXIII, 411. For 
Stunt see above p. lOO. 

As sour as a rig. Cor. EDD. Verj^ ill-tempered. — What is rz^/ 
No word that fits the context is found in any diet. Is it a 
misprint or a misquotation for grig or another, unregistered, 
form of this word.? 

Ez bad tempered ez a nettle. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. In 
daily use. 

Ez rank as nettles, ibid. 241. Does this allude to the same 
thing? Cf As surly as if he had pi . . t on a nettle. Ray; 
there is a Yks phrase 'to have p . . d <?/ a nettle,' to be 
cross and ill-tempered. You are as touchy this evening as if 
whipped with nettles. Baring-Gould, RS, 193. Cf. the dial, 
phrase 'to be on nettles,' and the adj. nettlesome. 

The renowned O'Grady was according to her account as cross as 
two sticks. Lover, 1842, NED. Another inst. ibid, of 1855. 
H. Hewett, Dev. 10. Slang, Brewer, &c. We got out of 
bed back'ards, I think, for we were as cross as two sticks. 
Dickens, Martin Ch. xxix, Lean. Her tiny chum comes home 
at night as cross as two sticks. Whiteing, No. 5, 235. Cf. 



— I04 — 

As cross as the tongs, p. lOo "A popular phrase." Palmer, 
FE, 84. Cf. (crab)stick as a term for a crabbed or cross- 
grained person. 

As sharp as touch. ToucJi short for toiicJnvood ; as quick to fire 
up as touchwood, quick-tempered. Jamieson. 

Joshua, as is as dour as a stone? Verney, 1868, EDD. 

His countenance was black as night. Martineau, 1832, NED. 
See p. 58. 

He 11 be as teasy as fire when he hears about it. "Q", MV, 167. 
Cf. She was false as water. — Thou art rash as fire, to say/ 
That she was false. Shak., 0th. V, ii, 137. 

A feaace as grou as a thunner-cloud. Yks. 1887. As grue as 
thunder. Whitby 1888, Folk-Lore, XLV, 430, Grue = 
morose, sullen seems to be a Yks term. Cf. As dour as 
thunder, ibid. 



Ill-mannered, Shameless. 

As brassant as Hector. Yks. EDD. Brassant = brazen, bold, 
impudent, shameless. Hector as a term for an insolent, blust- 
ering fellow is rec. fr. 1655. Cf. Hector Hellbones, an un- 
ruly boy. See Ill-tempered, p. 95. 

You have no more manners than a barber, Thackeray, BL, xiii; 
barbers "cut all other except themselves." 1625, NED. 

Ye be as full of good manners as an egg of oatmeal. Whitinton, 
1520, H. Lean quotes: Ye be as full good matter as an egge 
is of ote mele. — He that may have your company may be 
glad there of, for you are as full of manners as an egge is 
full of oate meal. Dtix Grammaticus, 1633, N. & Q., 5, 
VIII, 164. This must be ironical. But ci. on the other hand: 
As full of good-nature as an egg's full of meat. Sheridan, 
1777, NED. See Full Ch. IV. 

As cheeky as old boots. Brewer, Diet. 911. Very saucy. — Cheekiness 
dates from 1847, and cJieek =^ impudence from 1840. Sla?ig. 
For other sim. with old boots see Ch. V. 

As unmannerly as the almanac. Their manners like the wind. 
Barclay, SJiip of Fools, i. 115, 1509, Lean, II, ii. This must 
be one of the earliest insts of the word unmannerly, as ina7i- 
nerly -=1 well-mannered is not known before Skelton. 

As bold as brass. Slang; EDD; Hewett, Dev. 10, Brewer, Diet. 
Thackeray, VF, II, p. 12. &c. Common colloquialism of an 
impudent person. An impudent person is said to have rubbed 
his face with a brass candlestick. Wright, RS, 169. The 
earliest instance found dates from Thackeray, VF, II, 12, but 
it must be much older, as brass as a symbol of insensibility 
to shame is of very old standard in English. Already La- 



— I05 — 

timer has "to brazen out" = to face impudently, and brazeyt- 
faced and brassy, impudent, shameless, date from the latter 
half of the same century. 

As bold as Corinthian brass Thackeray, Howel, The Wid- 
ower, 195. — This gives us a clue to the origin of the sim. 
and this sense of brass. In Greek and Latin the words for 
the metal were very often used as symbols of strength, hard- 
ness, and in Cursor Mundi (1300) we find; — ^e king hert 
wex herd as bras (NED), quite in accordance with classical 
usage, and Stanyhurst, in his Aeneis, II, 45, speaks of a 
"brasse bold merchaunt" (1583), which is only a step further 
on the same way. Also in Hebrew poetry the same metaphor 
is used, and classical and biblical influence has helped to 
give currency to the sim. in English. See Dari?ig, Bold,. 
p. 113. 

Why, he has a face like a black dog, and blusheth like the back- 
side of a chimney. Lean, II, ii; Source not given. 

If it be my fortune to meet with the learned woorkes of this Lon- 
don Sabinus, that can not play the part without a prompter 
nor utter a wise word without a piper, you shall see we shall 
make him to blush like a black dog when he is gravelled. 
Gosson, School of Abuse, (Arber) 75, Lean, II, ii. — What, 
canst thou say all this, and never blush? — Ay, like a black 
dog. Shak., TA, V, i, 121. 

A black saint can no more blush than a black dog. T. 
Adams, 1629, Lean, II, ii; Withal, Diet., 1634 has, s. v, 
Faciein perfrictiit, he blusheth like a black dog, he hath a 
brazen face. Ray. Clarke. Ld SparkisJi (To the maid) Mrs. 
Betty, How does your body politic.^ Col. Fie my lord; 
you"ll make Mrs. Betty blush. Lady Smart. Blush! ay, blush 
like a blue dog. Swift, PC, 234. 

As mannerly as a dog. Denham, Lean, II, ii. See False, 
23, Lewd, 19, Mad, 39, Stupid, 48 &c. 

To blush like red bull calf. — 'The phrase was once casually used 
in my hearing, and I was moved to ask when it was that 
the red bull calf had blushed. '"A nivver blooshed but wanst," 
said Sam, "an' that wuur last Moonday vur a while, when 
Kimbulin's mule called 'im bahsta'd.'" Evans, Leicestershire 
Words, Phrases and Proverbs, 309, 1 881, Folk-Lore, XXXVII. 

They may brag as they will of their manners, they've na mair 
manners than a milner's horse. Yorkshire Dial., 4. — What 
is there unmannerly about a miller's horse.'* See Busy, Hard- 
worki7ig. p. 124 and Sober. Ch. II. 

As impudent as a badger's horse. N. & O., 4, VII, 245 (1871) 
Still a common proverb. N. Cy. There is said to be a 
Midland sim. 'as bold as a badger's horse', which probably 
means the same thing. See Daring, Bold, p. II2. — That a 
badger usually was provided with a horse, appears also from 



— io6 — 

these quotations: — Hungry! Thou's always hungry: thou'd 
eat a badger off his horse. Robinson, Gloss, of Mid. York- 
shire. Gip with an ill rubbing, quoth Badger, when his mare 
kicked. Ray. Badger is a corn-dealer, miller's man, or miller. 
Perhaps only a variant of the former sim. Is it "still common"? 
As impident as a cadger hoss. Nicholson, 1890, Yks. EDD. 
The cadger is the miller's man who carries the corn to the mill 
to be ground. Cf. " . . die a cadger-pownie's death/ At some 
dykeback. Burns, 1785, EDD. — For the use of horse c{. 
horse-laugh, horse-joke., horse-morsel (a large, coarse woman), and 
the extensive use of horse in names of plants and animals to 
denote a large and coarse kind. 
You [the devil] directed Nabal ... to be as churlish as a hog. 
Taylor, ST, 39. — "In our English tongue the name boar or 
boor do truly explain their swinish condition, for most of 
them are as full of humanity as a bacon-hog, or a boar, and 
their wives as cleanly and courteous as sows." ibid. TH, 35. 

— Hog has been applied opprobriously to a person of coarse 
habits from Heywood's time. — Churlish goes back to Chaucer. 

As rude as a bear. Swift, Portrait of Mrs Shei'idan, Lean, II, ii. 
Rude z:^ unmannerly, uncivil, of persons, rec. fr. 1590. 
Here you are as rough as bears, because I won't be a thief 
Hope, RH, 257. This sense of rough is rec, fr. 1530. 
As wild as a Russian bear. Middleton. A Roaring Girle, 
161 1. — Cf. There were those young ladies only too anxious 
to do what they could for you, and you like a bear. Shaw, 
LA, 79; and the ^^. use of bear for an unmannered person, 
and the phrase "to play the bear" known fr. 1570, Slang. 
See p. 102. 

As rough as a bear's backside. Northall, FPh, 10. 

On Resolute Bat. 

As rough as bearskins for behaviour, 

A biscuit face as hard for favour, 

As blunt as back of knife, as dull 

As whetstone, or cramm'd capon full, 

His talk as women backward flat, 

And though laugh'd at he's Resolute Bat. 

Rob. Heath, Epigrams, 1650, Lean, II, ii. 

— Bearskin not in NED before 1677. 

Ez impudent as a cock sparrer. — In daily use. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 239. Cf. the Chaucerian 'as lecherous as is a sparwe.' 
See p. 19. 

Ez brazend ez a sunflower. — In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 
242. There are at least seven different plants called sun- 
flowers, best known among them being perhaps the common 
sunflozver, Helianthus aJinuus, but what is there "brazen "about 
this plant? Is it because the flowers are bold enough to look 



— I07 — 

the sun in the face all day long? It may at least denote a 

certain absence of bashfulness. 
•*'As course as hemp" is a common epithet in the Lowlands of 

Scotland for persons of rude and boorish manners. N. & Q., 

5. V, 477. 
•'As coarse as bean-straw" is a common Lincolnshire saying, and 

is applied both to persons and things. N. & O., 5, V, 477. 

For beaji-straw NED has only one inst., fr. Chaucer. 
I liked the old man well enough, though he was as rough as a 

hedge. Hardy, RN, 141. 
As coarse as Hickling gorse. — "Often heard about Nottingham." 

N. & Q., 5, V, 94. Cf. As rough as H. g. N. & Q. 12, 

III, 116. The common overgrown with fern, and rough With 

prickly goss. Cowper, 1784, NED. 
As coarse as heather. — Common in the Lowlands of Scotland. 

See As coarse as hemp; N. & O., 5, V. 216. 
"As coarse as grass" is common in several parts of England. 

N. & Q. 5, V, 94. 



Scolding, Quarrelling. 

To scold like a wych-waller. — An old Cheshire proverb, not 
very common now (EDDj. Ray; Holland, Chs. Gl. — Wych 
is a salt-works, and a waller, a boiler. 

To rail like a rude costermonger. Beaumont & Fletcher, Scornful 
Lady, Lean, II, ii. 

To scold like a cut-purse. Ray. 

To scold and rail/ Like porters o'er a pot of ale. Swift, "7b M. 
Delany," Lean, II, ii. — From of old the porter seems to have 
been an associate of other master-scolds and doubtful charac- 
ters: A dosen harlotes Of portours and of pykeporses and 
pylede tojjdrawers. Langland, PPl, (C) VII, 370; Did you 
overturn no porter or oyster-woman in your way.? SmoUet, 
RR. 126. Cf. also Drunk, Ch. II. 

To scold like a tinker's wife. NED — The tinker and all that 
belongs to him, his wife, or rather his trull, his dog, or rather 
his bitch, and his budget are seen in a very unfavourable light. 
See False, p. 22, Stupid, 47, and Drunk, Ch. II. 

Railing and scolding more nieretricuni worse then Cot-queanes. 
James, 1608, NED. To scold like a cot-quean; that's your 
profession. Ford, ' Tis a Pity., 1633, NED. Cf. Thou arrant 
butterwhore, thou cotqueane & scrattop of scoldes. Nashe, 
I, 299, 1592. This sense of cot-quean seems to belong ex- 
clusively to Elizabethan English, being rec. from Nashe to 
Ford, as given above. 

They scold like so many butter-whores or oyster-women at Billings- 



— io8 — 

gate. Howell, p. 20, Halliwell. Cf. . . to yawn, to stretch, 
and to gape wider than any oyster-wife. Dekker, GH, 22. — 
The oyster-women (wenches, wives) must have been a parti- 
cularly noisy crew, if we are to believe Massinger, who, in 
his Virgm Martyr, makes Spungius, the drunkard, reformed 
for the moment, break out: "O you drawers of wine, draw 
me no more to the bar of beggary; the sound 'Score a pottle 
of sack' is worse to me than the noise of a scolding oyster 
wench or two cats incorporating." 

They abuse one another like Fishe-wives. Davies, 1662, NED. 
To scold like a fish-wife. NED s. v. cotquean, no inst. given. 
Cf. Our womankind excel in that dish [fish] — it procures 
them the pleasure of scolding, for half an hour at least, 
twice a week, with . . . our fish-wife. Scott. A. 58. You 
know that I behaved like a fishwife. London, DS, no. — 
Windham, 1795, NED, refers to "the scolding of a fish- 
woman in Billingsgate." — In Vinegar and Mustard, or Woxm- 
wood Lectures for every day in the week, printed in 1673, 
there is a specimen of scolding performed by two fishwives. 
Bold Bettrie and Welsh Guintlin, whose conversation gives 
us a fairly good idea of what fish-wives could do in this 
line. — ■ The language of Billingsgate was proverbial already 
in the 17th c. Pope, in his Dunciad, frequently alludes to 
it, speaking of "much Billingsgate, volumes of Billingsgate" 
&c. A Billingsgate was also a term for a scolding impudent 
slut. The language of B. is unfortunately still very much 
what it used to be. 

To scold like a butter-whore. Day, Isle of Gulls, G2, Lean, II, 
ii; Cotgrave, 161 1, Brydges, 1764, NED. 

You scold more bitterly than any butterquean, 1650, NED. 
To scold like butterwives. Clarke, Lean, II, ii. — Nashe and 
Shakespeare bear witness to the butterwoman's bad reputa- 
tion: "Thou arrant butterwhore . . ." (I, 299); "Tongue, I 
must put you into a butterwoman's mouth ... if you prattle 
me into these perilles." Shak. AW, IV, i, 245. 

To scold like a market-woman. NED s. v. cotquean. No inst. 
given. Cf. the two following sentences: — They scold togy- 
ther lyke two women. Palsgrave, 1530; Some runn out to 
braule & scolde like women with the next enemys. Moryson, 
16 1 8, where, nevertheless, the comparison is less intensifying 
than descriptive. 

As game as a fightin' cock. Nhb. EDD. Game = ready (to 
fight). 

As fond of a raw place as a bluebottle. — Said of one always 
ready for a quarrel, or anxious to touch on grievances. Northall, 
FPh, 8. Bluebottle = bluebottle-fly. 

K?. gam ez a cock-roach. — "No insect perhaps is so pugnacious 
as the common roach or black clock. The encounters which 



— 109 — 

take place on our hearths after we have retired to rest are 
many and deadly." Blakeborough, NRY, 242, 244. — Gam 
= game, see above. 

Note. "October, 1574, ordered and agreed by the whole Court, 
that all manner of Skoldes which shal be openly detected of Skold- 
ing or evill wordes in maner of Skolding, and for the same shal be 
condemned before Mr. Maior and his brethren shal be drawn at the 
Sterne of a boate in the water from the end of the Pearl round 
abought the Queenes Majesties Castell in a manner of ducking, and 
after when a cage shal be made the party so condemned for a Skold 
shall be therein punished at the discretion of the maior." M'Ski- 
min, History and Antiquities of Carrickfergus, 181 1, p. 260. — Duck- 
ing was the usual punishment of a scold far down into the 18th c 
See N. & Q., 2, I, 490, and "Q", MV, 7. But there were also other 
punishments, as the following quotation shows: — "A woman carried 
the wooden mortar throughout the town hanging on the handle of 
an old broom upon her sholder, one going before her tinkling a 
small bell for abusing Mrs. Mayoress, and saying she cared not a 

for her." Boys, History of Sandwich, p. 708, 1637, quoted 

N. & Q., 2, V, 505. 



Swearing. 

I am so haunted/ With a swaggering captain, that swears . . 
Like a very Termagant. Barry, RA, III, i. This would make 
a saint swear like a soldier, and a soldier like a Termagant. 
Beaumont & Hetcher, KK, II, ii. — Termagant, the wild 
Mohammedan deity of the mystery plays. 

To swear like an emperour. H. 

For they wyll say he that swereth depe swereth like a lord. Elyot, 
1 53 1, NED. To swear like a lord. H., Slang. 

She curses and storms at me like a trooper, Richardson, P, 201. 
To swear like a trooper. Foote, 1756. Slang. 
The fellow . . . swore like a trooper. 18 10, NED. Jack was 
heard below swearing like a trooper. Lover, 1842, NED. 
ibid. inst. of 1884. 

The good bishop will be swearing like a dragoon. Mason, PK, 23. 
Cf. The parson sat up in his bed and swore with all the 
volubility of a dragoon or even of my Lord Bishop of Roch- 
ester, ibid. 24. Cf. also, His companion stamped and cursed 
and fumed like a corporal of Hussars. Doyle, AG, 291. 

To swear like a bargee. — Fairly common. C, 5 July, '14. Cf. 
A man who sets up for a country gentleman with the tongue 
of a Thames bargee. Hughes, 1861, NED. 

How did he brook that, sir? — Oh, swore like a dozen drunken 
tinkers. Dekker, HWh, lb. 

To swear like a tinker. Coryat, Crjidities, 161 1, Lean, II, ii. 
He sware an' banned like a tinkler. Clevel. Gloss. — Cf. a 
tinker's curse or damn (dam). 

As stout and proud as he were lord of all,/ Swear like a ruffian 



— no — 

and demean himself/ Unlike the ruler of a commonweal. Shak., 
KH VIb, I, i, 182. To swear like a ruffian. Davies, Scourge 
of Folly, ix, 14, 1614. Lean, II, ii. 

He cursed Hke a madman. Stevenson, TI, I2i. 

The Spaniards are swearing like Spaniards (I need say no more). 
Kingsley, WH, 168. Cf. Swearing like the mouth of the 
pit, whereby I guess him to be Spaniard, ibid. 169. The 
pious Spaniards of the sixteenth century the most abominable 
swearers of all Europeans, ibid. 376. — On the continent the 
opinion seems to have been a little different, to judge from 
the Flemish i6th c. proverb jfurer cotnme un Ecossois, and 
the very existence of the nickname Goddavinie for an Eng- 
lishman seems to denote that also the English themselves, in 
spite of Acts of Parliament "passed more effectually to prevenf 
profane swearing," were looked upon as great swearers ot 
oaths, and are perhaps so still — in Scotland: — She swure 
like twunty drunk Englishmen. Trotter, 1901, Kcb., EDD. 

Swear and lie, worse than so many dogs. Taylor, KW, 5. 

He was cussing and swearing under his breath like a tom cat as 
had met his match. Phillpotts, TK, 19. — In some midland 
dialects cats and dogs are said to swear when they make a 
snarline hissing noise. 



Wanton, Wild. 

They are now as Buxome as Bachus froes — revelling, dancing. 
Beaumont & Fletcher. 1616, NED. Cf. Some gadded vpe 
and down the streetes, like Bachus froes, franticke for the 
time. Nashe, I, 95. In this case buxom must mean something 
like wanton, wild; according to NED this sense is only con- 
textual. 

As wild as Orson. Stf. EDD. This is probably one of the heroes 
of the old romance of Valentine and Orson. The twin brothers 
being born in a wood, Orson was carried off by a bear, grew- 
up with the cubs, and developed bearish qualities. {Orson 
= onrson = the little bear). The romance must have been 
very widely known. 

As wanton as a young widow. Congreve, Old Bachelor, 1693. 
Lean. II, ii. 

[Love is] all wanton as a child skipping and vain. Shak., LLL, 
V, li, 749. 

As wanton as the Englishman after a long peace. Howell, Cen- 
tury of Netv Sayings, 1659, Lean. 

As frolick as a Dutch Tanikm. S. S., Honest Latvyer, i, 1616. 
Frolick z= sportive, full of merry pranks. NED has no inst. 
of tannakin after 1608. 

As wanton as a whelp. Draxe, 1663. Lean, II, ii. 



— Ill — 

As wanton as a cat in a bowl on the water. Massinger, V^ery 
Woman, iii, i, Lean, II, ii. The kitten is otherwise a com- 
mon type of wantonness. 

As wanton as a calf with two dams. Ray. 

Wanton as youthful goats, wild as young bulls. Shak., KHa IV, 
i, 103. As wanton as a kid, Beaumont & Fletcher, Hu- 
morous Lieutenant, iii, 7, Herrick, Hesperides, 718, Lean, II, 
ii. Cf. Leaping like wanton kid in pleasant Spring. Spenser, 
FQ, I, vi, 14, and Chaucer, MIT, 74. 

More wild and wanton than either buck or doe. Barclay, Ship of 
Fools, i, 6^), Lean, II, ii. 

As wild as a buck. Clarke; Davies, Scourge of Folly, 16 14, 
Lean, II, ii; Ray. As God save me, la, thou art as wild as 
a buck; there's no quarrel but thou art at one end on't. 
Beaumont & Fletcher, KK, II, ii. 

As gamesome as a young fox. Yks., FDD. 

As wild as a March hare. Prov. in Brighouse News, 1889, Yks. 
FDD. Wild as is the hare he will stop for his mate. Wood, 
Manx P. 241. As wild as a hare. Yks. See pp. 40 f., 71. 

As wanton as a wet hen. Hislop, The Proverbs of Scotland, 1862, 
Lean, II, ii. 

I know her spirits are as coy and wild/ As haggards of the rock. 
Shak', MA, III, i, 35. Haggard, a wild hawk, has been used 
fig. of a wild, untractable person, one not to be captured. NED, 

As wild as winter thunder. — Ungovernable, unruly. Cum. FDD. 
Cf. As wild as winter. Beaumont & Fletcher, Pilgrim, iv, 2, 
Lean, II, ii. 



Bold, Daring. 

As Bold as Beauchamp. Ray. 

"Of this surname there were many Farls of Warrick, amongst 
whom (saith Dr. Fuller) I conceive Thomas, the first of that 
name, gave chief occasion to this proverb; who, in the year 
1346, with one squire and six archers, fought in hostile manner 
with a hundred armed men, att Hogges in Normandy, and 
overthrew them slaying 60 Normans, and giving the whole 
fleet means to land." Ray. — Of this Thomas of Beauchamp 
Drayton [Polyolbion, XVIII) says: — 

So had we still of ours, in France that famous were, 
Warwick, of England then high-constable that was, 

So hardy great and strong, 

That after of that name it to an adage grew 

If any man himself adventurous happed to shew, 

'Bold Beauchamp' men him termed, if none so bold as he. 

— Bold Beauchamp is the title of one of T. Heywood's 
lost plays, and the term is referred to in Middleton's A Mad 



— I 12 — 

World, in Shirley's The Wttty Fair One, and Suckling's 
Goblins, 1645. Lean, II, ii. 
As bold as blind Bayard. — Ye ben as boold as is Bayard the 
blindc. Chaucer, T. & C, i, 218. 

Nothing is bolder than blind Bayard, which falleth oft in the 
mire. Bullein, Btikvark of Defence, 1562, (Lean, II, ii). How 
this horse unhesitatingly went into a "well-nigh impassable 
slough", and stuck there, is told by Heywood, PK, 185 s. 

As bolde as blind bayerd, as wise as a woodcock. 

As fine as phippence, as proudc as a peacocke, 

As stout as a stockcfish, as meeke as a mecock. 

As bigge as a begger, as fat as a fool, 

As true as a tinker, as rich as an owle. 

Appiiis & Virginia (Dodsley, xii, 348; used by Haphazard of himselt). 

It was an ordinary receipt among good wives to give Helle- 
bore in povder to ii'^ weight, and he is not much against it. 
But they do commonly exceed, for who so bold as blind 
Bayard? Burton, AM, II, 262. — Blind Bayard is referred 
to in Lydgate, Skelton, Atway 168 1. (Lean, II, ii). For 
some further insts see NED. And cf. Bartholomew Bayard, 
that leap before you look. Rowley, MM, v, i. 

Bayard is originally the name for a bay-coloured horse, 
rec. fr. c. 1325 but the sim refers to the "bright-bay-coloured 
magic steed given by Charlemagne to Renaud, one of the 
four sons of Aimon, famous in mediaeval romance." NED. 
The name became a common one for any horse, and is allu- 
ded to in many proverbial sayings. See Blind, Ch. II, and 
Skeat, EEP, 123. 

Naething so bauld as a blind mear; Hislop, Scot. Proverbs, 
Skeat, EEP, 123, is a modern form of the above phrase. Cf. 
also "Mettle is dangerous in a blind horse." Ray. 

As bold as the Laird of Whinetly. — This saying, which is com- 
mon in the whole district of South Tyne, originated in 171 5. 
For its history see Dejihain Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 264. 

Bold as Brassy. — A famous highwayman, who with his horse 
would face anything. Pegge, Derbicisms, 135 (Ed. adds 'Hardly 
legible'). Probably a punning allusion to the adj. brassy, im- 
pudent, shameless, rec. fr. 1576, NI^^D. 

By this time the Ensign was grown as bold as an admiral. Thack- 
eray, HE, 196. 
I am as brave in the night-time as a' admiral. Hardy, RN, 32. 

He used to come in as bold as a lord and drink off his glass by 
his father's side, at the head of the table. Thackeray, VF, 
249. Bold in this case means not onl}' 'daring', 'fearless', 
but it implies also the opposite of 'modest'. 

As bold as a new made Knight. Nabbes, Tottenham Court, v, 4, 
1638, Lean, II, ii. 

I felt as brave as a sodger. Hardy, UGT, 273. 



— 113 — 

Zo hold's a badger. Hewett, Dev. ii. — If this badger is the 
corn-dealer, in what way can he be said to be bolder than 
other people? Does bold mean 'impudent,' referring to this 
huckster's forestalling of the markets, which must have made 
him unpopular? Or does it allude to the animal, the brock, 
whose fierce defence of its burrow has already been referred 
to ? But cf, the phrase 'as bold as a badger's horse,' quoted 
by Lean from an unidentifiable source. See Ill-mannered, 
Shameless, p. 105. 

As fearless as a drunkard. Middleton, Mayor of Queenboro\ ii, 3, 
Lean, II, ii. 

As bold as a miller's shirt, which takes a rogue by the throat 
every morning. Marriage of Wit and Science, H, Old Plays, 
ii, 336. Lean, II, ii. The miller's golden thumb does not 
always gather the gold of honesty. — Stout, brave, courageous. 
As stout as a miller's waistcoat, that takes a thief by the 
neck every day. H. (no source given). 

Upstanding as bold as brass on the edge of the cliff. Crocket, 
1894, EDD. The sim. is used by Thackeray, Bolderwood, 
Alcott (W), &c. but in many cases it has, beside the sense 
of 'daring', also the connotation of 'audaciously forward', 
^ See Ill-mannered, Shameless, p. 104, and cf. But sheppard 

mought be meeke and mylde. Well-eyed as Argus was, With 
fleshly follyes undefyled, And stoute as steede of brasse. 
Spenser, SK, July i. 

The parson was as brave as steel. Mason, PK, ']']. 

Croose as a cock in his ain cavie. Mayne, 1808, Dmf. EDD. 
Croose, bold, courageous. The cavie is the hen-coop. Cf. 
A cock is crouse in his own midding. Ray. See Proud, p. 
84, where this and some similar phrases are quoted. — Gallus 
in suo sterquilinio plurimum potest, in Seneca. Ray. 

His Hangers-on call him a Man of Blood, and by his own report 
he is as stout as a Turkey cock, yet he never was in any 
service, but building Sconces. Town-Galla?it, 3. 

As bold as a lion. Chaucer, KnT, 740. 

The righteous are bold as a lion. Prov. xxviii, i. — I 
never have courage till I see the eatables and drinkables 
brought upo' the table, and then I'm as bauld as a lion. 
Goldsmith, SSC, 227. — She was as bold as a lioness, and 
feared nobody. Thackeray, HE, 43. 

As brave as a lion. Lean, II, ii. Nash's. '17, April, 60. 
He is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the 
elephant. Shak., TC, I, ii, 20, ibid. KH IVa, III, i, 167. Cf. 
Father rides well enough and with the courage of a lion. Phillpotts, 
AP, 181; You have a heart as big as a lion. Shaw, CBP, 
54. — "The lion has by the naturalists, poets, moralists, 
fable-writers, been unanimously crowned the King of Beasts 

8 



— 114 — 

and has been duly accredited with every royal virtue, such as 
magnanimity, courage, generosity." Hulme, NH, ii6. 

As brave as a Bengal tiger. Moir, 1828, EDD. — These sim. 
with lion and tiger are probably oriental borrowings made 
familiar to the Germanic races through the medium of Latin 
and old Hebrew poetry. 

Zo hold's a elite. War. Dev. EDD. Cf. "Mad as a coot." p. 93. 

As bold as a robin. Pimch, Poutsma, I, ii, 512. See Lively, Peart^ 
Ch. II. 

As stout as a stockfish. Appiiis and Virginia, See p. 112, and cf. 
What come they for, good captain Stockfish.? — It seems 
your lordship has forgot my name. B. & Fl., KK, V, iii. 

"Fierce as a maggot" is general in England, and is short for , 
"Pierce as a maggot with its tail cut off." N. & O., 6, IV, j 
355. "Among keepers and others in the North Riding of 
Yorkshire some forty years ago." N. & O., 10, XII, 148. 
Commonly applied to pseudovaliancy. Oxf. EDD. 

Stout as an oak. Mrs. C. Tolerably common. Cf. 'as strong as 
oak' and the fig. use of oak in such phrases as Jieart of oaky j 
British oak, and Eiche in German. 

[The Weardale men] they have good hearts/ They are as stiff as 
any tree. For if they'd every man been slain'/ Never a foot 
back man would flee. Ballad of the Rookhope Ryde, Lean. 



Coward, Timid, Wary. 

He was cautious as the typical Scotchman, greedy as the typical 
Jew, and as cunning as an old fox in a Holmshire cover. 
Besant, RMM, 23. — The wary sagacity and shrewdness 
commonly assigned to the Scotch is sometimes said to grow, 
or degenerate, into something akin to what is charged home 
to them in the old saying registered p. 22. 

His hert arwe as an hare. Rob. of Gloucester, c. 1300, Wright, 
RS, 43. Arzve, argh, timorous, cowardly, still lives on in n. 
Cy dial. 

As fearful as a hare, and will lie like a lapwing. 1606, NED. 
A very dishonest paltry boy, and more coward than a hare. 
Shak., TN, III, iv, 369. — The hare (Lepus timidus) is the 
arch-coward, and Coward was his name already in Caxton's 
Reynard, and numerous are the references to his cowardice 
throughout the range of English literature. Shak. speaks of 
hare-hearts (TC, II, ii, 48), Rowland (16 14, NED) of 'Two 
right hare-harted coward fooles;' Addison refers to the fearful 
hare (1702), and Goldsmith thinks that 'Animals of the hare 
kind . . . are inoffensive and timorous.' — "Hare, a black 
meat, melancholy and hard of digestion; it breeds /««/^7ir.y often 
eaten, and causeth fearful dreams." Burton, AM, I, 250. See p. 57. 



— 115 — 

As wary as a blind horse. Bohn. 

As valiant as an Essex lion. Ray. — The Essex lion is not of 
the roaring but of the bleating kind. 

He's as bold as a Lammermoor lion. Bwk, 1856, EDD. — Lamnier- 
moor is a hill of this county, and the lions on it are lions 
with white faces like the Cotswold (see p. 91), and the Rumford 
ones. 

As wary as a dogge at the bowe. Barclay, Eclogues, ante 1530, 
Lean, II, ii. 

She is as timid as a mouse. Hardy, TM, 150. Cf. Thou wilt 
be as valiant as the wrathful dove or most magnanimous 
mouse. Shak., KH IVb III, ii, 151. Ye havna the spirit 
of a mouse in yir big body. MacLaren, YB; The Labour 
party . . . have scarcely the courage of mice. N. Age, X, 3. 
If we was men instead of mice, we'd rise up. Phillpotts, AP 
33. Cf. Still, Quiet, Ch. IV. 

Afraid as a grasshopper. N. & Q., 5, I, 420. Cf. Job, xxxix, 
19 f. Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed 
his neck with thunder.? Canst thou make him afraid as a 
grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible. 

(You haven't the pluck of a louse. Phillpotts, AP, 214. Cf. If 
Arthur Pierce had the pluck of a louse . . . ibid, WF, 157, 
193. There's lots like him about. Very brave with the 
women, but they curl up like a wood-louse if a man tackles 
them. ibid. 432). 



Lazy. 

As lazy as Lawrence. Som. Cor. EDD, N. & Q. 

"Lazy as David Lawrence's dog. — Here Lazvrence is a 

corruption of Larrence, an imaginary being supposed by 

Scottish peasantry to preside over the lazy and indolent." 

Brewer, Diet. 736. Lawrence ^ Larrence. 

As lazy as David Lawrence's dog, that leant his head against 

a wall to bark. Brewer, ibid. Cf the west Som. phrase 'He's 

like lazy Lawrence's dog, that lied his head agin the wall to 

bark.' Elworthy, WSG. 420. 

T know that Suffolk peasants say "as lazy as Lawrence's 

dog" with an example of his laziness added which is too 

vulgar to quote.' N. & Q., 9, V, 503. 

References to (Lazy) Lazvrence as the genius or personi- 
fication of idleness date back to the seventeenth c. In 1670 
there was printed a chapbook entitled The Infamous History 
of Sir Lawrence Lazie his Birth and slothful Breeding, how 
he served the Schoolmaster, his Wife, the Squire's Cook and 
the Farmer, which by the Laws of Lubberland was accounted 
High Treason, his Arraignment and Trial and Happy Deliv- 



— ii6 — 

erance &c., and Taylor (NL, ii, 1627) speaks of 'Avarice, 
the Purser, Lawrence Delay, the Paymaster; kinsman to Tom 
Long the Carrier,' who both may be very close relatives of 
Long-Lawrence; and in IVovian zs a Weathercock, 16 12, Field 
makes use of the phrase beyond Laivrence of LmicasJiire (H), 
which may be an allusion to Lazy Lawrence. \n pr. E. this 
phrase is used in many counties, Lan. Yks. Chs. Nhp. Pern. 
Shr. Glo. Cmb. Kent. Nrf. Sfk. Hmp. L W. Som. Dev. Cor. 
(EDD, N. & Q., 7, XI, passim). "Lazy Lawrence [is] most 
likely ubiquitous enough ... I have often heard the saying 
in London, but know not from whence imported." N. & Q., 
3. X, 39. 

Some of the phrases in which it occurs are worth quoting. 
They all refer to enforced or willing idleness. 'To have 
Lawrence on one's back,' Wright, RS. 165. (cf. He's got St. 
Lawrence on the shoulder, N. & Q., 6, VI, 78). 'I've got a 
touch of old Lawrence to-day.' Cooper, Snss. Voc, 1853, H. 
'I see lang Lawrence hes gitten hod on thee.' Craven Dial. 
1828. Also in modern dial, in other parts. 'Lawrence has 
got upon him.' North. Gloss. 'When a person in hot weather 
seems lazy, it is a common saying that "Lawrence bids him 
high wages."' Gentleman's Magazine, 1784. Also in modern 
dial. 'In South Yorkshire, when a man is falling asleep in 
his chair a friend will say "Lawrence bids.'" N. & Q., 
7, I, 269. 

The reference is said to be to St. Lawrence, v\'ho under 
the fifth persecution of Valerian was burnt to death. When 
lying on the gridiron he is supposed to have mocked his 
tormentors by saying, "It is now roasted, turn me and eat." 
(Owen, Sanctorale Catholicon, ed. 1880, p. 238, see also 
Butler's Life of the Saints; N. & Q., 9, VI, 253). It is also 
said that his bearing the torments without a groan caused 
some of those standing by to exclaim, "How great must be 
his faith." But his pagan executioner said, "It is not his 
faith, it is his laziness." (Slang). — Legends and stories 
concerning saints, or supposed saints, are in a great many 
cases founded on a very scanty supply of truth. They have 
grown from an unimportant nucleus by conscious fiction or by 
an ignorant tradition which confuses legends or transfers them 
from one hero to another. This was the case with St. Law- 
rence. 

The above burlesque stories go back to full accounts of the 
saint's martyrdom, probably composed in the sixth century, 
in which narratives a number of legends dealing with other 
martyrs were mixed up in a romantic and wholly legendary 
fashion. Parts of these legends are founded on St. Ambrose's 
De Officiis Mi7iistrorum, where we read, Lib. I, caput XLI, 
Tamen et ipse post triduum, cum illuso tyranno, ivipo situs 



— 117 — 

super craticulani exureretur : Arsum est, inquit, versa et 7nanduca. 
But what Ambrose and his fellow-writer Prudentius say on 
the subject is founded rather on oral tradition than on written 
accounts. "It is quite possible that between the year 258, 
when the Martyrdom is said to have taken place, and the 
end of the fourth century, popular legends may have grown 
about this highly venerated Roman deacon, and some ot these 
legends have been preserved by these two authors. . . . The 
details concerning St. Lawrence's martyrdom cannot claim any 
credibility." [The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. IX). 

All these legends made the saint extremely popular, as is 
witnessed, among other things, by the numerous churches 
and streets, in and out of England, that have been dedicated 
to him. There is a French mystery play of the fifteenth 
cent. [Le Mystere de Saint Laurent, ed. Soderhjelm & Wallen- 
skold, Acta Societ. Scient. Fennicae, Tom. XVIII) where all 
sorts of torments are heaped upon the saint, and nothing is 
able to shake him until he is made to say, just as in St. 
Ambrose: — 

O! Meschant payen Decius 
Tu as rosty une partie 
De mon corps, pren de la partie 
Et en mengue presentement, 
Mais tourne moy premeriement 
De I'autre part pour en avoir. 

Decius : 

Tirans, faictes tout son vouloir; 

Tournez le tost, le dolent gars 

Affin qu'il soit de toutes pars 

Rosty, ainsi comme il a dit. (vv. 6885—6894). 

Of this mystery there is a Spanish and several Italian editions, 
which shows that it must have been very widely known. But 
although there is a late twelfth century Angly-Normand poem 
De St. Laurent, no such English mystery play seems to be 
extant or known. It is nevertheless not altogether impossible 
that such a play has existed. Dramatical performances of 
this kind must have made scenes and stories representing St. 
Lawrence on the gridiron well-known among the rustics. From 
a vulgar point of view — and the majority of the lookers-on 
knew no other — the saint's behaviour must have appeared as 
a high degree of stolidity. And from stolidity to laziness there 
is but one step. From such sources there may have developed 
stories that became current in mediaeval England, and made 
the saint the hero of tales dealing with laziness, and Lawrence 
became the designation not only of an extremely idle person 
but of idleness itself, and gradually, as the origin of the name 
was lost sight of, a mythical person, who was either the hero 
of tales that gave instances of monstrous laziness, or a more 



— ii8 — 

or less supernatural being who "takes hold on" the lazy. In 
this way the additions to the original simple form may be 
accounted for. They are of late popular growth. As everything 
that belongs to this arch-sluggard must have his characteristics 
stamped upon it, his dog must be as lazy as its master. Cf. 
also below Ludluvi's dog. In the above mentioned phrase 
'beyond Lawrence of Lancashire' we have only a facetious 
localization of Liibberland, which seems to be our hero's home 
county, -'where they have half a crown a day for sleeping" 
(Ray). With equal right he might have been charged home 
to "long, lazy, lousy Lewisham" (Ray), as his association 
with Lancashire does not go beyond La. 

But there is something that speaks against this theory, 
viz. the occurrence of Lawre7ice in expressions and associations 
that can hardly have had anything to do with the martyr, 
at least not directly. Lawrence is the fox in Lyndsey's 
Dream, Nashe speaks oi Lawrence Lucifer (I, i8i; possibly 
this name was given the devil, "because St. Laurence's day fell 
on Aug. lo. the hottest part of the year." McKerrow, Notes, 
io8), and Taylor refers to "Sir Laurence Ling, an ancient 
sea-faring gentleman." (JL, 14). There is also a "lusty 
Lawrence", who, according to Nares, was a "mad wencher." 
(See also Ostberg, 86). This seems to hint to a semi-appellative 
use of the name. 

If we turn to the continent we find numerous expressions 
in different Germanic languages that show us that this use of 
Lawrefice was by no means confined to England alone, that, 
on the contrary, it was, and is, far more frequent in Germany, 
(Holland and Flemish Belgium.^). The form all but exclu- 
sively used in these terms is the familiar one of Lenz (Lents, 
lent-). We have hemedlenz ("shirt-lawrence" of a person in 
his bare shirt; cf. the Sw. barfotalasse, "barefoot-lawrence" 
of a person, chiefly a child, without shoes and stockings), 
hrennstippenlejiz (of one who "feeds like a farmer." See 
Grimm), trappleiiz, bdbhelenz (ungainly, clumsy, or stupid 
persons; see Martin & Lienhart, Worterbuch der elsdssische7i 
Mundarten, Strassburg, 1899), langer lenz (a tall, lanky person; 
Grimm; Hertei, Thiiringer Sprachschatz.WcimdLV, 1895 : Fischer, 
Schwdbisches JVorterbuc/i); der gut Lenz, der fromb Lenz, der 
arm Lenz, &c. (Grimm). Lenz, alone, means in the Elberfeld 
dialect a wag, and Lens inake?i, to make a joke; in Swabian 
lents means a lazy worker (see Fischer, ibid.), and the Flemish 
lente, the etymology of which is rather uncertain, means an 
indolent and lazy woman, (cf. eene leege looie lente, a "lazy, 
loselly larrence of a woman", De Bo, Westvlamsch Ldiotikon, 
Gent. 1 892), and the chief inst. of zW, fauler Lenz, lazy Lawrence. 
Of the word Lenz Grimm says: The frequency of the form 
brings about its use as an appellative in the sense of person, 



— 119 — 

fellow, fool &c. It is immaterial whether faiiler Lenz starts 
from this secondary use of the name, or owes its existence 
to a folk-etymological interpretation and reshaping of the verb 
faulenzen (faul-lenzen) . The thing that chiefly interests us is 
the way it is used, and in this respect we find a remarkable 
coincidence. 

Some of the most interesting expressions are worth quoting: 
Dein /allien Lenzen dienen (to serve lazy Lawrence). Bin 
Gesprdch mit dem fmden Lenzen^ tvelcJier ein Haiiptinann der 
grossen faiilejt limifen ist. (A conversation with Lazy Law- 
rence, who is the captain of the large lazy crowds) , . . niir 
zwar . . . ware sie (the unusually hot weather), die Wahrheit 
zu bekennen, so beschwerlich, dass ich micJi unzdhlicJi mal wider 
den hauptman Lenz underhalten musste. einnial coviniandierte 
mich dieser gewaltige capitain . . . (lazy Lawrence, the mighty 
captain). £>e faule Lenz sticht einen (Lazy Lawrence hits one, 
Grimm). Lenz alone is used in pretty much the same way: 
Lenz haben, (Staub, Tobler und Schoch, Schweiz. Idiotikon; 
Fischer) to have, to suffer from, Lawrence, Der Lenz koimnt. 
Lawrence is coming, 'Lawrence bids', Der Le?iz hat mi^'^ 
■'^dinget, (Fischer), Lawrence has hired me, 'Lawrence bids 
wages'. If anyone complains, when mowing the corn, of an 
aching back, he is likely to be told 's chumt mer vor, der Lenz 
iiieg ich [eiich] ufJwcke (Staub &c.) it seems to me that Lawrence 
has got hold of you. And in Holstein Lents is an imaginary 
being that produces sleep, as in the proverb Wenn der Karmelk 
kumt, so nimmt de Lents Lade an, when the butter milk comes 
(which according to popular belief makes people lazy), Law- 
rence will get people (Berghaus, Sprachschatz der Sassen, 
Berlin 1883). There are also not a few words closely resembling 
Lorenz, Lenz in form, and belonging to the same sphere of 
ideas, although their etymology is uncertain: lejiteren, lente et 
ignave agere; lenterer, cunctabundus, tardus (see Verwijs & 
Verdam, Middelnederlandsch Woorde7iboek)\ lor en, to be slow 
and negligent, to work slowly, (Staub &c.), the same word 
is also in Middle Dutch, and is rendered carptim et ignave 
aliquid agere (Verwijs &c.); Lari, a slow stupid person &c. 
It must be added that there are also some sayings with 
Lorenz and Lenz more closely connected with the name of 
the saint and alluding to his day, Aug. 10, and weather 
prognostications concerning the following season. 

All this is enough to show that the English Lazy Law- 
rence must have been born on the continent. The term and 
the bulk of the sayings referring to it must have arisen 
in pre-reformation times, and, if we are allowed to draw 
any conclusion from the evidence of the dictionaries, in the 
south of Germany, from whence they travelled westward, 
aided and upheld by the numerous legends concerning St. 



— 120 — 

Lawrence, which helped to make his name popular. There 
were numerous story-tellers to bring them across the Channel, 
pilgrims, students and soldiers who travelled in the Low 
Countries and up and down the Rhine. In England they 
became popular at an early date, and the name was soon 
coupled with the adj. lazy, probably also of continental origin, 
which became current about 1550, and thanks to alliteration 
the sim. and some proverbial phrases have been preserved, 
although most of the tales that gathered round the name 
seem to be forgotten. 

It is remarkable how important a part is played by alli- 
teration in many expressions connected with laziness. The 
fo\lowing insts may be added to those already given: "lazy 
lor rels" (Harman, 1567, Haliiwell), "lazy lozels . , which do 
nothing all day long, but walke in the streets." (Dent, 1601, 
NED), and Munday speaks of a "lazy lozel Eriar" (1601, 
NED). Cf. also "ye losel, lither and lasie," Still, GGN, V, 
ii;" like a loytring losell standest thow here idelye," Resp. 
53; "a slave, a vacabund, or a lasie lubber," Damon and 
Pithias, Dodsley, 1,266; "lazy Lobkin, like an idle lout, Breton, 
Old Madcappes nezv Gallimawfry, N. & Q., 7, XI, 4, &c. 
Cf. also some of the following sim. 

It is worthy of note that also on French ground there exists, 
or has existed, a patron saint of laziness. "The words lozard^ 
lozarde mean slothful, and it is said of individuals who deserve 
this designation that St. Losa is their patron ... At Douai 
till about 1830 this imaginary saint had his fete kept every 
year on Trinity Monday, the following refrain being sung 
among others: — Non, Saint Loza n' est pas mart, Car il vit 
encore.'^ Desrousseaux. Mcciirs Popidaires de la Flandre 
francaise, 1889, i, 35, N. & Q. No such word as lozard(e) 
seems to be known to the Erench dictionaries. 

Idle as (H)Ines, that was too lazy to get his wagon and horses 
out of the ditch. Northall, EPh. (Glo.) — "This has perhaps 
some local tale to back it; but no one seems to know the 
telling. At first sight it strikes one as an idea borrowed from 
the fable of Hercules and the waggoner, which should run, 
"As idle as the hind, &c." But this is a chance resemblance, 
maybe; as hind, in country places at least, is still restricted 
in meaning." Ibid. 17. 

As lazy as Joe the marine, who laid down his musket to sneeze. 
1670, Slang. 

Drink his bottle and live as lazy as a lord. Thackeray, BL, iii. 

As lazy as the tinker who laid down his budget to fart. Ray; 
Peacock, Lin. Gloss. Lean, II, ii. 

As lazy as the tinker who laid down his wallet to let him 
down. 181 1, vS/«;?^; Jackson, Shropsh. Wdbk, Lean, II, ii. 



— 121 — / 

Ez lazy ez a stee. — Stee, ladder. A ladder generally leans 
against a wall. — "In daily use." Blakeborough. NRY, 240. 

As idle as Dain's dog as laid it deawn t'bark. Ch. Gl. 

As lazy as Larriman's dog. Ch. Gl. Connected with Lawrence? 

As lazy as Kittenhallet's dog; 'e laned 'is yed agen a wall to bark. 
Jackson & Burne. Kitte?ihallet ? 

As lazy as Ludlam's dog, that leaned his head against a wall to 
bark. Ray. Southey, The Doctor, As lazy as Ludlam's dog, 
who laid himself down to bark. Pegge, Derbicisms, 135. As 
lazy as Ludlum's dog as laid him down to bark. S. Yks. 
"This comparison is so general and familiar in South York- 
shire (Sheffield especially) as to be frequently quoted under 
the first half." N. & Q., 1850, 382. ^ 

As laazy as Ludlam's dog that lean'd his sen agean a door 
to bark. Line. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. 
"He's as lazy as Lumley's dog that leant up against a wall 
when he wanted to bark." Suffolk. N. & Q., 7, IX, 328. — 
Ludhims dog is referred to in Cotton's Scarronides, 1670, where 
Aeneas reposing on the toro alto is likened to "Ludlam's cur 
on truckle lolling." (N. & Q., I, IV, 165). 
Who was Ludlum, Ludlam, Lumley? The question was asked 
already by Southey in his Doctor and has been repeated 
since more than once. According to Brewer Ludlam was the 
famous sorceress of Surrey, who lived in a cave near Farnham. 
She kept a dog noted for its laziness. 

As idle as a foal. Line. 1886, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. 

He be as lazy as a gowk or a howlet, as don't make no nest. 
Berrow, 1888, Wor. EDD. 

As lazy as a toad at the bottom of a well. Lean, II, ii. 

As thrang as a cobler's Monday. — It is generally supposed that 
a cobler has to rest over Monday to work off his week's-end 
debauch; hence the sim. is one of ridicule. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 241. See Ch. II, Drunk. 



Eager. 

Hot as a piper. Suf, EDD. "Very hot, as hot as can be." Ibid. 
Does it refer to any kind of hotness or heat, or does it mean 
the same thing as "mad as a piper," p. 90. Cf. "piping hot." 

And turn as eager as pricked wine. Butler, H, II, 70. Another 
instance of the same play on words as is illustrated in "as 
cross as the tongs." Eager, of wine, sour, obs. since 1727. 
In the sim. it means 'impetuous' rather than 'ardently desiring'. 

As keen as mustard at the uptake. DNL, 5, IV, '13. Titterton, 
my new publisher, is tremendously taken with the scheme 
of the thing — keen as mustard about it. Pinero, BD, 15. 
Keen, eager, ardent. Cf. p. 32. 



— 122 — 

He was as keen as a terrier on his task. CassePs Mag. of Fict., 

'14. 175- 

As fierce as a dog. — Eager, N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 

As fess as Cox's pig. Fess, eager. N. & Q., 11, V, 434, Fess 
is a word used in some s. w. and Midland counties, and 
means perhaps originally fierce, and then lively, active, over- 
zealous &c. (EDD). 

As prest as a sperhauke. Langland, PPl, VI, 199 (B). Presf, 
prompt, eager, keen, obs. since 1697. Cf. the following sim. 
His face was dark and as keen as that of a hawk. Doyle, 
AG, 294. Keen, of the face or looks, "suggestive of mental 
acuteness" (NED). It means more, it is suggestive of swiftness 
in decision and eagerness in grappling with a task. See below. 

Jock was . . . keen-bitten as a wind of March. Crocket, 1899, 
Gall. EDD. Cf. His face was keen as is the wind/ That 
cuts along the hawthorn-fence. Wordsworth. 1798, NED. — 
Kee7i-bitte7t, eager, sharp, ready to take advantage. 

Note. Some of the numerous sim. under Hot, Ch. IV, 
may perhaps also be used in the fig. sense of eagerness. 



Busy, Hard-working. 

As busy as the devil in a high wind. Fuller, 1731. 

As busy as the devil in a (high) gale of wind. Denham; 
W. Scott's Pirate, 1821, viii. xxviii. — 'The following extract 
from the legend of St. Michael . . . printed by Caxton about 
1479 . . . will, I think, serve to illustrate that adage so com- 
mon among the vulgar, ''as busy as the devil in a high gale 
of wind." Mychaell and his angellis fought with Lucyfer in 
heven . . . and with help of God, Michael had the better, and 
drove out the dragon and all his felyshyp into the ayre, 
between heven and erth; and so they be there yet as thycke 
as motis in the sonne. And for Christ come to heven in a 
blast of thonder; and, therefore, yet whan they here thonder, 
they fall downe to the erth for fere, and thenne they go not 
up ayen tyll they have done some harme, for thene they 
make bates, stryves, and manslaughter and make great wyndes 
both in londe and in water, and do moche harm.'" The 
Ge7itleman s Magazine, 181 1, 505 They [spirits or devils] 
cause whirlwinds on a sudden, & tempestuous storms. Burton, 
AM, I, 218. 

As busy as the devil. Sufif. P2DD. 

The men of the driving crew worked like demons. White, 
BT, 329. 

Morrison he comes up to run things some. He does. Tim he's 
getting the drive in shape, and he don't want to be bothered, 



— 123 — 

but old Morrison he's as busy as hell beatin' tan-bark. White, 
BT, 1 80. — Mr. Morrison is the head of the firm that employs 
Tim, who has undertaken to bring the timber-drive down. M. 
is 'used to bossin' clerks and such things, and don't have much 
of an idea of lumber-jacks.' Consequently beating tan-bark 
must either be an Americanism referring to the ways of a 
busybody or be applied to Jiell to point out one of its busiest 
moments, an occupation that is a bit startling and, as far as 
records go, rather unusual at the place down below. 

Working like a Trojan. Newman, 1846, NED. N. & Q., 10, II, 
168, Gissing, CL, &c. Trojan is a more or less colloquial term 
for a person who sticks to his task faithfully and perseveringly. 
Consequently the sim. is only partially intensifying. As "a 
vague term of commendation" (NED) it is current in English 
at least from the Elizabethan period, and it is now used in st. 
E. as well as in dialects, and especially in Irish, where like a 
Trojan is "a term of comparison for an active sturdy person." 
(EDD). 

He'd lately been slaving away like a Turk. Barham, IL, 504. 
To work like a Turk. Baker, North. Gl. War. 
Nicht and day toil like a Turk. Nicholson, 1895, Lnk. EDD. 
As hard as a Turk. Of one who is indefatigable in work. 
Yks. — Like a Turk has passed into some sort of general 
intensive to qualify anything that is violent and excessive. 
See Ch. V. 

As busy as Batty. Dev. N. & Q., i, I, 475. [The sim.] "was 
often heard by the present writer in his youth, as signifying 
that the one who has been 'as busy &c.' has indeed had his 
time fully and entirely occupied in the duties performed . . ." 
N. & Q., II, IV, 250. There is also a Dev. phrase Beat as 
Batty meaning 'as tired as B'. ibid. (quot. fr. Dev. Association 
Trajisactions, 1910). — "I remember well the phrase 'busy as 
Batty' in eastern Cornwall forty years ago; but I always took 
it to have a satirical suggestion, it being applied to those 
who . . . were bustling rather than busy." N. & Q., ii, IV, 
314. — Who or what Batty was, no one seems to know. Has 
it anything to do with the word bat, beat.? 

As busy as Beck's wife. — A popular phrase. N. & Q., 7, VIII, 368. 
As throng as Beck's wife. — A common comparison for a 
busy person. Wm. South. Notts. EDD. 

As thrang as Throp's wife when shoe hanged hersell in her garter. 
Craven Gloss., 1829. 

As thrang as Thrap's wife as hanged hersell i't' dishclout. 
Teesdale Gloss. 1849, Dur. Current in practically the same 
form in Yks. (Folllore, LXIII, 411), Cum. Lin. Nhb. Wm. 
Shoo's as thrang as Throp's wife when shoo clouted Dick wi' 
a dishclout. N. & Q., 11, IX, 13. Is Dick Throp's wife's 
husband.? 



— 124 — 

As throng as Throp's wife. ''See Academy ]u\y 21, 1883. The 
author never heard the suicidal portion of this in Line." 1877. 
Folk-Lore LXIII, 411. 

As busy as Throp's wife. Yks. Der. N. & O., ii, VIII, 468. 
— See also Denhatn Tracts (Folk-Lore Soc. XXXV), and 
Southey, The Doctor (ed. Longman, 1849), 3 10. — This sim. 
is generally (for an exception see N. & Q. 1850, 485) used 
of a woman busying herself about domestic affairs, but whose 
house and surroundings are nevertheless always in a mess. 
Peacock's Gloss. (Lin.). "Whoever [Throp's wife] may have 
been she is reported to have hung herself in her dishclout, care 
and anxiety having preyed too much on her mind." Dickinson 
& Prevost, Cumberland Gloss. "Dr. James Hardy, who edited 
[the Denham Tracts] possessed a unique acquaintance with 
northern traditions, and he passed this adage without annotation. 
We may thus conclude that its origin was unknown to him, 
and that the proverb continued current long after the incident 
giving rise to it had been forgotten." N. & Q., 11, IX, 13. 

As busy as a good wife at oven, and neither meal nor dough. 
Ray. I. e. more fussy than busy. 

As busy as country attorneys at an Assizes. Dekker, Seve?t Deadly 
Sins &c. Lean, II, ii. 

As busy as inkle weavers. Cum. EDD. See Intimacy, and cf. She 
slav'd all the Day like a Spitalfield Weaver. Anstey, 1766, NED. 
The name of Spitalfield is well known in connexion with the 
silk industry established here by French refugees after the 
revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Enc. Brit. 

He would labour like a thresher. Beaumont & Fletcher, The Custom 
of the Country, III, iii. — "The calling of the thresher has 
gone . . . There remain, however, some sayings in which 'like 
a thresher' occurs, but the use of these grows less and less . . . 
it may be mentioned that the sayings 'sings like a thresher', 
and 'works like a thresher' came from that occupation and are 
'as old as Adam'. Th. Ratcliffe, Worksop (Yks). N. & Q., 9, 
IV, 106. Cf. 'to pull like a thresher', to pull strongly. Yks. P2DD, 
and See Hungry Ch. II. 

I've been toiling like a convict. Thackeray, VF, xxiv. Cf. I->. 
travailler comme for cat. 

She expects me to work for him like a galley-slave. Baring- 
Gould, BS, 86; Lean, II, ii. 

Don't she work like a slave.^ Baring-Gould, BS, 49. Jane 
Perkins worked at him two months like slave. Hardy, MC, 84. 
To slave, work very hard, rec. fr. 1709. NED. 

To work like a negro. Overheard. Cf. Fr. travailler comme un negre. 

Ez thrang ez a woman's tongue. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. 
Cf. A woman's tongue wags like a lamb's tail. Three women 
and a goose make a market. Ray. 



— 125 — 

Busy as an English oven at Christmas. Denkani Tracts, Folk-Lore, 
XXXV, 91. 

As busy as a dog in dough. Burne, Shropshire Folk-Lore, 1883. 
Common colloquialism. Chs. — Cf. Like dogs in dough, i. e. 
unable to make headway. Northall, FPh. 19. 

[I] have been toiling more like a dog than a man. Scott, RR, II. 

As busy as a cat in a tripe shop. Northall, FPh. Cf. the Lancashire 
phrase "As happy as a cat in a tripe-shop." EDD. 

You are as busy as a cat in pattens. — A common comparison 
when one is needlessly busy about trifles. Nhp. EDD. 

They toil like mill-horses, and turn as round. Heywood, WKK, 22. 
Would you have me stalk like a mill-jade,/ All day for one 
that will not yield us grains. Jonson, Alch. Ill, ii, 216. I was 
obliged to drudge on like a blinded mill-horse. Johnston, 1781, 
NED. — Mill-horse, used for working a mill. The word rec. 
fr. 1552. For 7nill-jade NED has only this inst. Cf. the yf^. 
use of the word mill-horse in phrases like. You are the mill-horses 
of mankind. Dryden, 1673. It cost Turner forty years of 
mill-horse toil. Ruskin, 1881. NED. See p. 80. 

To work like a dray horse. Lean, II, ii. She is condemned to 
do more drudgery than a dray-horse. Foote, 1756, NED. 
I worked like a team of horses. Phillpotts. WF, 443, 124. 
Toiling like a horse. Scott, A, 237. 

To work so hard as a horse. Phillpotts, SW. — The sim. 
mentioned by NED, but no inst. given. Cf. As strong as a 
horse. Cf. Fr Travailler conime im cheval. Also in Sw. 

I have been labouring in your business like any moyle. Dryden, 
1679, NED. Moil is an eighteenth c. form of mule. Is this 
a play on the verb to moil and the corr. subst.? Cf. Their 
life for that space was . . . hard travail or moyle. Hammond, 
1659, NED. Fr. Travailler comme un mulet. 

They are as busy as beavers among the underwood. Doyle. R. 347. 
Men with spiked boots ran here and there from one bobbing 
log to another, . . , working like beavers to keep the whole 
mass straight. White, BT, 211. See p. 54. 

As busy as a hen with one chicken.; Shirley, Witty Fair One, ii, 2. 
Ray, &c. Busy's a hen with one chick,. Yoxall, RS, 83. 
As busy as a hen that hath but one chicken. Clarke. II est 
plus embarrasse qu'une poule qui n'a qu'un poulet. J. Fleury, 
Literature Or ale de la Basse-Normandie, 1883, 375, N. & Q., 
12, III, 276. — Brewer has "as fussy &c.", which must be a 
later form, the adj. not being rec. before 183 1. 
As busy as a hen with ten chickens. Lean, II, ii. 
As busy as a hen with fifteen chickens in a barnyard. Bartlett. 

Zo busy's a riike. Hewett, Dev. ii. This probably refers to the 
endless swarming of the birds outside a rookery. 



— 126 — 

Ez thrang ez bees in a sugar cask. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 
As busy as bees in a bason. Toone, 1832. 
Ez busy ez bees on t' moor. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 
As busy as a bee. Chaucer. 

Now art tha maid als bissie as ane be. Stewart, 1535. 
Be in my house as busy as a be. John Harrington, Epigr, 
(Burton, AM, II, 141). 

As busy as a bee, I grant. But her hum is dreary and bitter. 
Phillpotts, VVF, 317. As busily as the bees. Alcott, Little 
Men, 57, W. Some further insts in Lyly, 1579, Cogan, 1589, 
Davies, 1610 (Lean, II, ii). — The busy bee is frequently 
referred to in English literature. Well-known are Watts's lines 
"How doeth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour". 
Also in Thackeray, Dickens, Alcott &c. 

My girl is as good as gold and as thrifty as the bible ant. Phillpotts, 
SW, 193. Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and 
be wise. Prov. vi, 6, or, as the Geneva bible has it, "Goe to 
the pismire, o sluggard," and Wyclif has, "O." thou slowe man, 
goe to the amte." (gloss, pissemyre). The ant (emmet, pismire 
&c) has ever been the type of unremitting industry: — Pissemers 
in somere are besy and rennyn fast aboute. 1440, NED. The 
busy emmets cease. Dryden, Oed. VI, 226. Men as so 
many emmets, busy, busy still. Burton, AM, I, 317. Emmaks 
be busy'l things, they be never idle. Fern. EDD. 

As busy as a bag of fieas. — Very common. Suf. EDD 

As bu.sy as a body louse. Clarke. 



Miserly, Stingy, Self-denying. 

As greedy as Death, until his last breath. His method he ne'er 
failed to use; When interr'd a corpse lay, Amen he'd scarce 
say. Before he cry'd Who pays the dues.? Ditchfield, PC, 60. 

As freely as St. Robert gave his cow. Ray. — This St. Robert was 
a Knaresborough saint. "The old women there can still tell 
you the legend of the cow." Ray. "The reputation of the saint 
is perhaps fresher to-day than that of a diiTerent sort of local 
celebrity, Eugene Aram". H. There is a metrical life of St. 
R. (ed. Roxburghe Club, 1824). Cf. Saints themselves will 
sometimes be Of gifts that cost them nothing, free. Butler, 
H, I, i, 496. 

A man of strict religious habits, self-denying as a lenten saint. Hardy, 
GND, 161. Cf. such expressions as lenten provisions, lenten 
fare, lenten face &c. See p. 66. 

That benchwhistler, (quoth I) is a pinchpenny,/ As free of gift as 
a poor man of his eye./ I shall bet a fart of a dead man as 
soon,/ As a farthing of him. Heywood, PE, 37. 



— 127 — 

As free as a blind man (is) of his eye. Withals, 1568, Lean, II, ii. 
Ray — A poor man can give away neither hand nor eye, but a 
blind man can freely give his eye, because it is of no use to him. 

As free as a Jew of his eye. Denham, Lean, II, ii. A Jeivs eye 
is a proverbial expression for something valued highly (NED, 
rec. fr. 1592) A souerain Rule, as deare as a lewes eye. 
Harvey, 1592, NED. 

But he was cautious as the typical Scotchman, greedy as the typical 
Jew, and as cunning as any old fox in a Holmshire cover. 
Besant, RMM, 23. 

The deacon was thight as the skin on his back; begrudged folk 
their victuals when they came to his house. Widow Bedott 
Papers, Slang. 

As mean as tongs. Sheffield. — "The association of . . . meanness 
with a pair of tongs is curious. The same association appears 
to occur in the words pinch, to save money penuriously, pincher, 
a niggard, nip-cheese or nip-fig, a. miser, and in such phrases 
as nip, scratch and bite, as applied to the struggle to make 
ends meet. I suggest that these words and phrases arose from 
the old practise of clipping money." N. & Q., 9, IV. 
Is it not rather connected with the sim. "as lean as tongs"? 
Mean, penurious, stingy, is of late development, being rec. 
fr. c. 1800, which makes it possible that mea7t in this case goes 
back to some of the older senses of the word, and the meaning 
that most readily suggests itself is that of 'inferior, badly off, 
poor'. Mean as tongs meaning about the same thing as bare 
as tongs, would without difficulty assume the modern meaning 
and application of ineafi. 

She's got the money, and she's close as a mouse trap, and very 
hard on Adolphus. Phillpotts, WF, 143. Close, close-fisted, 
or close-neaved, as the half-Swedish Yorkshire man says, dates 
from 1654. 

Ez grasping ex a toll-bar. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Cf. As hard 
as the turnpike, p. 93. Toll-bar, fr. 1794, Grose, EDD. Grasping, 
avaricious, from 1748, but the word is associated with greediness 
much earlier. Cf. Like a miser 'midst his store. Who grasps 
and grasps 'till he can hold no more. Dryden, 1700, NED, 
and "Gredy grasping gat it." Heywood, 1546, NED. 

As close as wax. — "A sim. derived mainly from ^/^.y^ 1= hidden 
or reticent". Slang. See Secretive, Reticent, p. 130. 

As near as nip. Very niggardly; too greedy to be honest. Yks. 
Near, niggardly, stingy, rec. fr. 16 16, is in general coUoq. use. 
There are some other sim. with nip, as clean, nice, tight, zvhite 
as nip. In as white as nip, nip is supposed to be the herb 
cat-mint, and clean, nice as nip may have developed out of the 
former sim. But this is hardly possible with tight, near as nip. 
There is in several dialects a verb nip, to be niggardly and 
parsimonious, and a nip is "a near split-farthing house-wife" 



— 128 — 

or generally a niggard, who is also called nip-curn, nip farthing, 
nip-kite &c., all derived from the original sense of nip, pinch, 
which must also be the meaning of the word in the sim. Cf. 
as 7i£ar as touch, and see above as mean as tongs. 

As free as a dead horse is of farts. Raj'. See above as free as a 
poor man of his eye. — Dead horse (dead-horse) occurs in 
several other proverbial expressions. 

As narrow in the nose as a pig at ninepence. Antrim prov. of a 
stingy person. N. & Q., 3, II, 304. Narrozv, parsimonious, is 
a very old sense, but it is now obs. in st. E. although living 
in some dial. It is only as it should be that "the gintlenian 
what pays the rint" has given rise to some Irishisms. 

Ez greedy ez a fox in a hen-roost. — The fox having gained an 
entrance, not only kills the birds he intends to carry away 
for food, but any he can lay hold of; then, picking out the 
best, leaves the rest, Blakeborough, NRY, 244. — This has 
probably a wider application than simply to greedy animal 
hunger. — This sim. does not exactly fit in with the following 
quot. I managed to keep clear of debt, by living so hard as 
a fox lives. Phillpotts, WF, 135. 

As greedy as an otter. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. See above, and 
cf. Fastidious, Nice, p. 86. 

As kind as a kite, all you cannot eat you'll hide. Ray. 

As kind as a kite. Clarke; H. — There are sixteenth c. insts 
of kite standing for a rapacious person, and it is still used as 
a term of reproach to a greedy individual. See EDD and 
Slang. The difficult thing about this sim. is the rendering of 
the adj. kind. None of the senses given to it in NED seem to 
suit the phrase. Neither is the treatment of the corresponding 
adverb fully satisfactory. It is given the sense 'heartily' in 
such phrases as 'to take kindly to', 'to thank kindly'. But it 
must have the same, or a closely related, meaning in other 
phrases as well. EDD has 'to drink kindly', and there is in 
Blackmore, LD, 40, 'I was kindly inclined to eat a bit.' Cf. 
'being always in kind appetite.' ibid 70, which elsewhere in 
the same book is called 'a hearty appetite', in accordance with 
modern usage. Thus, kind must mean something like 'heartily 
hungry, greedily avaricious' &c. This tallies perfectly with the 
common sim. in which the kite (gled) symbolizes the heartiest 
appetite possible. Cf. The Jew (as busy as a kite over his 
prey). Dekker, PW, 201. 

As keen as a kite. Bronte, Shirley, I, 13 ,VV. Keen, looking sharply 
after one's interests, avaricious, in Sc. and some n. Cy dial. 

This worthy couple was sharp as needles and saving as magpies. 
Besant, RMM, 22. Saimig, parsimonious, fr. 1581. The magpie's 
habits of pilfering and hoarding are proverbial. NED. Magpie 
is also a Birmintjham term for a collector. 



129 



Secretive, Reticent, Close. 

She's secret as the grave and very cunning. Phillpotts, P, 363 ; 
Motley, 1874, NED. Make him swear to be silent as the 
grave, Twain, HF, 352. 

As secret as a confessor. Gay, Wife of Bath, ii. Lean, II, ii. 

Primero. But I must swear you to be secret, close. Frippery. As 
a maid of ten. Pri. Had you sworn but two years higher I 
would ne'er ha' believed you. Fri. Nay, I let twelve done, 
For after twelve has struck, maids look for one. T. Middleton, 
Your five Gallants, I, i, 1608. Lean. II, ii. 
And therefore, prythee, let thy heart to him/ Be as a Virgin, 
close. Tourneur, RT, I, iii. 

As a rule women are looked upon as unfit receptacles of 
secrets, as is amply shown by numerous proverbial phrases, 
of which some are worth quoting: They [women] bene as 
close and covert as the horn of Gabrielle That wylle not 
be harde but from hevyn to helle. MS. Laud. 416, Ret. 
Ant. ii, 27, c. 1460. Wymen ar no kepars of councell. 
It goeth through them as water through a syve. Barclay, 
Ship of Fools, Lean, IV. There was never man yet hoped 
for Either constancy or secrecy from a woman. B. & Fl. 
VVGC, II, i. Tell nothing to a woman or a pie, unless thou 
wouldst have all the world know it. Lean, IV (source not 
identifiable), and see Beaumont & Fletcher, WGC, II, i ; 
Greene, FBB, 227. — The magpie is commonly looked upon 
as just as great a divulger of secrets. Cf. Conceive the agony 
of suppressed speech when a man is as garrulous as a magpie 
by nature. 1891, NED, and the old Sw. Han haar dthet skatdgg, 
he has eaten magpie eggs, he can't be silent (Grubb, 294). 
The loquacity of the magpie (H. More, 1664, NED) is a doom 
for its having kept chattering at the crucifixion while all the 
other birds sat silent with drooping heads. Sloet, Dieren, 232. 

What I am and what I would are as secret as maidenhead. Shak. 
TN, I, v, 203. 

You must be secret. — As your midwife, I protest, sister, or a 
barber-surgeon, Dekker, HWh, la, ii. Cf As secret as your 
midwife or barber surgeon, madam. Sharpman, Fleire, ii, 1607. 
Lean, II, ii. This must be a conscious borrowing from Dekker. 
It is to be feared that "your midwife" was something of a 
gossip, and the barber-surgeon was probably a fitting repository 
only of "public secrets." Cf. the following quotations from 
Sharpham: But harke you, Fleire, are you capable of a 
secret .f* Fl. As your common cockatrice, that receiues the 
secrets of euery man. Sharpham, F, I, 282. Will thy tongue 
be secret? — As the clapper of the Mill, my Lord. — Is 
that not alwayes going.'' — I my Lord, but I hope it sayes 

9 



— 130 — 

nothing. Sharpham, F, III, 206. Cf. The tongue of that 
confounded woman will wag in her head like the clack of a 
mill. Scott, W, LXII. 

He's as close as a iron biler, he is: but I'm a 'cutish chap. Eliot, 
MF, 436. 

As close as a close stool. Melbancke, FJiilotimus, 1583, Lean, II, ii. 

As close as wax. Beaumont & Fletcher, Loves Pilgrimage, III, 
iii, Lean, II. Not much chance of drawing Sim Sharpies 
when he's alone. He's as close as wax, and so is Sam 
Rogers. Gould, 1898, Slang, Hardy, DR, 276, Yoxall, RS, 
45. The sim. has also other applications, as has already been 
shown, p. 127, and cf. also the following inst: Then commenced 
a long and steady struggle, conducted with Spartan dignity 
and self-command, and a countenance close as wax. Reade, 
1863, Slang Mark stayed more at home, kept to his three- 
legged stool as close as any wax. Harris, 1901, NED. 

As close as a wilk. Very reticent. Ir. EDD. Wilk, willock, periwinkle. 
See p. 27. Cf. His mouth as close shut as a clam. Harrison, 
A, 47. I am closed up here like an oyster. Scott, A, 397, 
'as close as a cockle'; see Tight, Ch. IV. 

As close as a flea in a blanket. Yea and Nay Almanac, Pt II, 
1680, Lean, II, ii. 

I will be secret, lady, close as night. Hey wood, WKK, 41. 



Knowledge. 

I knowed un as well as my brother. Hardy, JO, 24. See Intimacy 
Ch. IV. 

To know as well as the beggar knows his dish. Pilkington, Burning 
of St. Paters, 1 561, Lean, II, ii. That these young foxes knew 
as well as the begger knowcs his dish. Nashe, II, 94, 1593. 
Fynes Morrison's, Itinerary, 16 17, H; Day, BBB, 1659. Lady 
Ansiv. Do you know him, Mr. Neverout? Neverout. Know 
him! Ay, as well as the beggar knows his dish. Swift, PC. 
Your old remembered guest of a beggar becomes as well 
acquainted with you as he is with his dish. Scott, A, 44. — As 
to this particular form of the sim. it must be mentioned that 
Scott sometimes seems to refashion the old phrases. Cf. I would 
as soon wish my hand to be as callous as horn. ibid. A, 120. 
Move . . . with safe and noiseless step . , . soft as the pace of a 
cat, and docile as a spaniel, ibid. 57. — Instead of disJi we have 
clapdish in Crown, Jidiana, v. 167 1, (Lean, II, ii), clapperdish 
in Paradise of Dainty Devises, 1 576 (Lean), and bag in Hey wood, 
PE, 67. — Clapdish: A ragged gowne that trailed on the 
ground./ A dish that clapt and gave a heavy sound,/ A staying 
staffe, and wallet and therewith all/ I bear about as witness 



— 131 — 

of my fall. Churchyard's Challenge, 1593, Dodsley, III, 387. 
"The beggars two or three centuries ago used to proclaim 
their want by a wooden dish with a movable cover, which 
they clacked to show that the vessel was empty." Dodsley, 
ibid. The article as well as the word have been out of use 
for more than a century. Only the name survives in e. An. 
in a sim. applied to a great prater: 'his tongue moves like a 
beggar's ciapdish.' EDD. 

To know a thing as parfitely as my Paternoster. Palsgrave, 
Acolastus, L3, Lean, II, ii. 

I know him as kuyindeliche as a clerck doth his bokes. Langland, 
PPl, VI, 29 (A). To know a thing (a person) like a bok. 
Lean, II, ii. He knew the Northland like a book. London, 
FM, 17. 

Familiar in his mouth as household words. Shak. 1599, NED. 
[Beggar's Opera heroes] were familiar in our mouths as house- 
hold words. Scott, RR, iii. Cf. When I was a little child I 
was a great auditor of them [aged mumping beldames] and 
had all whichcrafts at my fingers' ends as perfect as Goodmorrow 
and Good-even. Nashe, 1594. 

Ramon, whose knowledge of an immense variety of things was as 
deep as a draw-well, and as placid. Conrad, Romafice, 57. 
See p. 35. and Deep, Ch. III. 

For sim. referring to constant association and intimacy 
see Intimacy, Familiarity, Ch. IV. 



Ignorance. 

But which of the folks/ Had managed to make them the but of 
their jokes, . . . they both knew no more than Jack Nokes. 
Barham, IL, 442. Nokes, A Ninny or Fool, also a noted droll. 
B. E., Diet. Cant. Creiv, 1694. It must also be remembered 
that John-a-Nokes and Tom-a-Stiles are two fictitious names 
commonly used in law procedings. Slang. 

As learned as Dr. Dod(d)ypoll. Howell, 1645. Lean, II, ii. — 
Doctor Dodypoll as a proverbial name for a foolish or ignorant 
minister or doctor, is a term frequently found in Elizabethan 
and Stuart English. For some inst. see H. and Lean. Otherwise 
doddypole simply means a stupid person, rec. in NED fr. 1401 
to 1767. 

To know one no more than does the pope of Rome. Ray. 

He knew less than the pope of Rome. Butler, H, II, iii, 874. 
Nor do I know what is become of him more than the pope 
of Rome. ibid. I, iii, 264 "I have often heard persons when 
professing entire ignorance of a subject, exclaim "I know no 
more than the pope of Rome about it," and I have noted 



— 132 — 

the expression to be especially current among the middle 
class, and the better educated portion of the lower order in 
Pembrokeshire." N. & O., 3, III, 471. The same cor. thinks 
that the sim. is "the outcome of sheer Protestant antipathy", 
and another writer ibid. 3, IV, 217, takes it to be a corruption 
"I know no more than of the Pope of Rome." Neither is 
probable. Does it not rather express the idea that the pope 
of Rome, being so far away and in such a high position, 
cannot possibly know anything about twopenny halfpenny 
things in a Pembrokeshire village. — "A simple fellow being 
arraign'd at the bar, the judge was so favourable to him, as 
to give his book, and they bid him read. 'Read, truly, my 
lord,' says he, 'I can read no more than the Pope of Rome'." 
Oxford Jests, 1706, p. 93, (N. & Q., 3, IV, 318). [The 
heralds would] prove you was descended from the Pope 
of Rome. Phillpotts, WF, 61. What can you do for the 
Turk? What can you do for the Pope of Rome.? Barry, 
RA, IV, i. These insts are enough to show that the Pope 
of Rome, from being a type of something far off, has come 
to be used in phrases to denote an attempt at achieving the 
impossible. 
Which he knows no more than the Man in the Moon. Marvell, 
1676. Then you don't know how things are settled.-^ — No 
more than the man in the moon. Marryat, 1840, NED. She 
had no more idea than the man in the moon that she had 
married a beast of prey hid in a gardener. Phillpotts, TK, 
102. N. & Q., 3, III, 517. — The inaiz zji the moon is known 
from very ancient times in most European countries. In English 
he is alluded to in Shakespeare and Chaucer, and NED has 
an inst. of 13 10 (see below), but there was already in Plutarch 
this very interesting treatise ;T8pi rod e|Li9aivo|aevou Trpoatorrot) 
8v Tw xuxXcp xx\c, Xr|Ar|vric. It is also said to be a reference 
to what is told in Numbers, xv, 32. Numerous are the stories 
that describe the man in the moon, and tell us how he came 
to be there. Already the very earliest reference in English 
says "Mon in the mone stond ant strit, on is bot forke is 
burthen he bereth." And in A Stra7ige Metamorphosis of Man, 
§ 3, 1634, we read "Eor if it be true there is a man in the 
moon with his dog, he is not without his bush with him, which 
is our bramble." (Lean, II, ii). He is usually represented as 
carrying a torn-bush on his shoulder, and very often he is 
also given a lantern (Shak., MND). According to many legends 
he was engaged, when on earth, in gardening work, or carrying 
home, in most cases on a Sunday, a bundle of stolen thorns. 
As a punishment for his theft and for breaking the sabbath he 
was sent to the moon. In the Roxburghe Ballads there is a 
poem that ascribes to him a rather unusual occupation: — 



— 133 — 

Our man in the moon drinks claret 

With powder-beef, turnep and carret. 

If he doth so, why should not you 

Drink until the sky looks blue? (N. & Q., 7, XI, 490). 

A German, Westphalian, legend provides him with a wife, who 
is churning. Another popular belief has it that every woman 
that is found spinning between Christmas and Epiphany is 
sent to the moon with her wheel. 

The man in the moon, no more than the man in the moon is used 
in other sim. and proverbs as well to denote something that is beyond 
expectation and possibility. Cf. He is no more my kinsman than the 
man in the moon. Parker, 1572, NED. She would think of marrying 
a Popish Spaniard as of marrying the man in the moon. Kingsley, 
WH, 188. See pp. 35, 54. Cf also. You may as soon shape a coat 
for the moon. Ray. If the contents please thee, and be for thy 
use, suppose the Man in the Moon, or whom thou wilt, to be the 
Author. Burton, AM, III. 

(For references see Baring-Gould, Curioiis Myths of the Middle 
Ages. Brand, Popular Antiquities, ed. Hazlitt; Thiselton Dyer, English 
Folklore; Folkard, PL, 174; Timothy Harley, Moon Lore, 1885; Sloet, 
Planten, 31, N. & Q., i, XI, 82, 334, 7, XI, 4Q0 &c.) 

As ignorant of your relation to her as an unborn babe. Hardy, 

GND, 252. 

I am as ignorant as a child how many glasses grog a woman . . . 

is expected to consume. Hardy, MC, 382. See p. 4. 
To know no more how to play than a post. Shuffling, Cutting, 

and Dealing, 1659, Lean, II, ii. Cf. I can dance no more 

than a post. See also Stiff, Ch. IV, Deaf, Ch. II. 
To know no more than Gib, our cat. Fulwell, Like will to Like, 

1568, (H, Old Plays, iii, 336), Udall, RRD, Prol. Cf. p. 56. 
As good a scholar as my horse Ball. Clarke, Lean, II, ii. Origin 

unknown. 

As well taught as my Lord Mayor's horse when his good 

lord is at the sermon at the cross. Lean. 

To know no more of it than my Lord Mayor's horse. Poor 

Robin, Progn., 1678, Lean, II, ii. — For the Cross see 

Wheatley's note on St. Paul's Cross, p. 337. 

He knows as much as my horse. Wilson, Cheats, iv, 5, 1671, 

Lean, II, ii. Cf. The stars I'm sure can tell no more than a 

horse. Butler, H, II, 23. 

To have as much skill in it as a horse. Fulwell, Ars Adulandi, 

D2, 1576, Lean, II, ii. Cf. p. 105 f. 
You're as ignorant as a cow. Masefield, Multitude, 186. 

They are as ignorant as the kyloes ye used to drive to market. 

Scott, RR, xxxiv; kyloe, small Highland cattle. Cf. Han dr 

full med Idrdomj som en Koo med Muskat. Er steckt voll 

Ktinstej als die Kuh voll Muschaten, Grubb, Ordseder, 309. 

(As full of learning as a cow of nutmeg). 
I was as ignirant as a pig. Eliot, MF, 360. 
The people are as ignorant as goats. Caine, D, vii. 



— 134 — 

Thou knovvst no more of a woman's heart than does a Norfolk 
gosling. Scott, Fortunes of Nigel, xxi. Cf. p. 50. Cf. Whan 
the rayn rayneth and the goose wynketh, Lytil woteth the 
gosling what the gose thmketh. 1523, NED. See p. 50 f. 

I have heard several times used the phrase "As ignorant as a carp." 
Origin.? N. & Q., 4, IV, 134. Walton would hardly have used 
this phrase, as he thought that the "Carp is the Queen of 
Rivers: a stately, a good, and a very subtle fish." 

O gull! O dolt! As ignorant as dirt! Shak., 0th. V, ii, 166. Cf. p. 9. 



Agreement. 

I can make black white, and white black again./ Tut, he that will 
be a lawyer must have a thousand ways to feign;/ And many 
times we lawyers do one befriend another,/ And let good 
matter slip : tut, we agree like brother and brother. R. Wilson, 
TJie Three Ladies of Lo7idon, 1584, H, Old Plays, vi, 283 
(Lean). 

To agree like 'prentices. Taylor, (WP), World's Eighth Wonder (L&?lu). 
— Did they always agree more than other people.'' It is true 
that they did agree as a rule when there was a riot or a fight 
against the City authorities, but internal dissensions were not 
altogether unknown, e. g. the fight between the butchers and 
the weavers in 1664. Meiklejohn, 113. 

To agree like lent and fishmongers. Marston, Malcontent, 1604. 

They agree like pick-pockets in a fair. Ray. 

To agree like finger and thumb. (Source not identified) Lean, II, ii. 



Disagreement. 

They agree like the clocks in London. — "I find this among both 
the F'rench and Italian proverbs for an instance of disagreement". 
Ray. Also in Fuller. 

The Preachers of England begin to strike and agree like the 
Clockes of England, that never meet iumpe on a point together. 
Nashe, I, 84, 1589; in Notes, 57, there is an earlier inst. from 
Misogomis, 1560. 

To agree together like bells. Knack to Know a Knave, H, Old 
Plays, VI, 533, 1594. They agree like bells; they want nothing 
but hangmg. — Does not this rather refer to persons of whom 
one can say "neither barrel better herring"; irrespective of 
minor difterences, they are just as great scoundrels both of 
them. If they are hanged the similarity is complete. 

The Lords supper and your peevish, popish, private masse doe 
agree together ... as the common proverbe is, like harp and 



— 135 — 

harrow. Becon, 1563, NED. L. Wright, 1614; Lean. Cf. 
These things hang together like harp and harrow, as they say. 
Gataker, 1624, NED. [Bethlehem] Bedlam . . . whether the 
Name and Thing be not as disagreeable as Harp and Harrow. 
T. Brown, 1700, NED. — Harp and harrow are utterly different 
though the words alliterate. See Dissimilarity Ch. IV. 

To agree like wax and the wick of a candle. Percival, Span. Gram., 
1599. Lean; i. e. about as much as the Kilkenny cats. 

iTo agree together like dogs and cattes and meet as just as German 
lips. Gosson, School of Abuse, 1579, Lean. Such young brats/ 
Would gree together, euen like dogs and cats. Heywood, CGW, 
'j'j. To agree together like cats and dogs. Draxe, 1633, 
Harvey, (Lean, II. ii). 'To lead a cat-and-dog life' is the 
modern phrase. Sw. leva soin hmtd och katt. 

They two agreed like two cats in the gutter. Heywood, PE, 54. 

To agree like tykes and swine. Hislop, The Proverbs of Scotland, 
1862, (Lean II, ii). Tyke (tike), a chiefly Sc. and n. Cy word 
for a mongrel cur. 

To agree like hare and hound. Becon, 1563, Lean, II, ii. Cf. 'To 
hold with the hare and run with the hounds', rec. already in 
Heywood. Hare and liound have been coupled in alterative 
phrases from Gower and onward. W. 

To agree like lambs together. Heywood, PE, iv, 33. Of the 
bleating; every one in a several note. Lean, II, ii. 

To agree like pikes in a pond, ready to eat up one another. T. 
Adams, 1629, Lean, II, ii. 

Some champions agree/ As wasp doth with bee. Tusser, Husb., 
1557, Lean. Did medijeval quackery believe in any special 
antipathy between the insects.? See Hatred, Antipathy, p. 138. 



Love, Sympathy. 

Obs! For sim. referring to close association and mtimacy, see 
Intimacy, Familiarity, Ch. IV. 

A right woman, either love like an angel or hate like a devil. Rare 
Triumph, 1599, H, Old Plays, VI, 214 (Lean, III). 

Plantagenet, Which held thee dearly as his soul's redemption. Shak., 
KH Vic, II, i, 102. I love Valentine, whose life's as tender to 
me as my soul. Shak., TGV, V, iv, 37. My father loved Sir 
Rowland as his soul. Shak., AYL, I, ii, 214. I loue you 
both/ As deare as my owne soule. Dekker, SM, 20. The love 
I bear my husband is as precious/ As my soul's health. Heywood, 
WKK, 41. Cf. And it came to pass, when he had made an 
end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit 
with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own 
soul. I Sam. xviii, i. 



— 136 — 

Loued hym as moche as fadir myght loue the child. Three, 22. 

To love as well as suster and brother. Occleve, Reg. Princ, ante 
1450, (Lean, II, ii). 

As dear to me as my own dear brother. Marriage of Wit a7id 
Science, H, Old Plays, II, 338 (n. d., Lean, II, ii). Cf. I love 
her better than a brother ought. Beaumont & Fletcher, KK, 
III, i. Cf. Intimacy, Familiarity, Ch. IV. 

As dear as any darling. Cawday, Treasure of Sim., 217. 

To love as a VVelchman does toasted cheese. Day, Humour out 
of Breath, iii, 1608, (Lean). — There are many ref. in early MnE 
to the Welshman's love of cheese: — Andrew Boorde makes 
his Welshman say "I do loue cawse boby, good rosted chese." 
Introd. 126. "In Wales lacticiniis vescuntur, as Humphrey Luyd 
confesseth, a Cambro-Briton himself." Burton, AM, I, 264. 
"Heaven defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he transform 
me to a piece of cheese". Shak., MW, and ibid. II, ii, 270. 
"As infamous as a Welsh harper that plays for cheese and 
onions. Robin Goodfellow, II, 1628, (Lean, II, ii). 

She much more than her own life him lov'd. Spenser, FQ, II, 
X, 28. Her honor dearer then her life. ibid. IV, i, 6, and I, 
i, 54; I, vi, 17. A wife/ Which is to me as dear as life itself. 
Shak., MV, IV, i, 278. My honour, that the Romanes hold/ 
As dear as life. VW, 28. Cf. Her honor, which she more 
then life prefard. Spenser, FQ, III, viii, 14. The which as 
life were to each other liefe. Ibid. IV, iii, 52. A good fellow 
that lou'd a harlot as his lyfe. Nashe, II, 64, 1593. To 
your care I give/ My love; ten thousand times more dear,/ 
Than life and liberty. Dryden, Oed. (VI, 224). [Chastity] 
That is her only virtue. Dearer than life she holds it. Long- 
fellow, SS, I, i. The Body which is as dear to me as life 
itself. Hocking, MF, 11. 

His money, which he loved as living breath. Spenser, FQ, III, x, 2. 
T]\e best of sisters, dearer than my breath. Beaumont & 
Fletcher, KK, III, i. 

I love you as dear as the heart in my bosom. Day, BBB, IV. 

He swore that he did hold me dear/ As precious eye-sight, and 
did value me above this world. Shak., LLL, V, ii, 444. He 
esteems you/ Even as his brain, his eye-ball, or his heart. 
Heywood, WKK, 40; cf. your company is as my eye-ball 
dear. ibid. p. 29. — Her mother loved him as the apple of 
her eye. Hardy, LLI, 275. The child became as precious 
as the apple of her eye. Hardy, W, 292. — Eye-ball is rec. 
fr. 1592. Apple of one's eye, as a symbol of what is most 
cherished or loved, dates from King Alfred. Cf. He lead 
him about, he instructed him, and kept him as the apple of 
his eye. Deut., xxxii, 10. See also Frov. vii, 2; Zech., ii, 8. 
Cf. lemand zoo lief als cij?t oogappel hebben, beminne7i, lief 
hebben als den appel zijner oogen. Aimer quelquun comme la 



— 137 — 

prnnelle de ses yeux. Stoett, NS, 38, 505. Quam plus ille 
ocidis suis amabat. Catullus. In Sw. ogonsten is used in the 
same way. 

To love as hot as coals. Palsgrave, Acolastus, 154O, Lean, II, ii. 

As louyng to him as the turtle to her make. Hall, 1548. 

Does she draw kindly with the captain? — As fond as pigeons. 
Sheridan, R, I, i. They got to be as loving as turtles. Malkin, 
1809, NED. — The dove or turtle as a symbol of affection 
already in OE. As a term of endearment (turtle)dove is used 
since Chaucer. Cf. Fr. tourtereaux, G. Tdiibchen, Russian 
ro;iy6ymKa, and the Latin verb cohmibari. It must be remem- 
bered that the dove was the sacred bird of Aphrodite. 

I love not many words. — Not more than a fish loves water. 
Shak., AW, III, vi, 75. 

Ez friendly ez a bram'l bush. — "The way in which the bramble 
catches hold and clings to one is well known to all those 
who had to force a passage where they grow". Blakeborough, 
NRY, 243. 

As dear as daylight. Beaumont & Fletcher, Sea Voy. I. i. Lean, 
II, ii. 

Ez friendly ez yan's shadder. — In daily use. Blakeborough, 



NRY, 239. 



Hatred, Antipathy. 



To love it as the devil loves holy water. Ray. I own I love 
Mr. Neverout, as the devil loves holy water; I love him like 
pie, I'd rather the devil had him than I. Swift, PC, 295. 
"We are very old-fashioned folks, and in spite of the refor- 
mation say, when we want to express extreme dislike, 'He 
loves him, as the devil loves holy water.'" Hampshire. N. & Q., 
Ill, ii, 258. Cf. The devil loves no holy water. T. Adams, 
England s Sickness, 1624, Lean, IV. Hys companye chyldren 
forsoke everychone. They did flee from hym, as the devyli 
fro holy water. Lyfe of Robert the Devyli, 173 (H, Engl. 
Pop. Poetry, i, 226; Lean, II, ii). — All the fonts of the 
country were formerly locked to prevent people from stealing 
the holy water, which they used to undo spell. Lean. See 
Wright, RS, 205. 

I do hate him as I do the devil. B. Jonson, Every Man out of 
his Humour, I, ii. Porter, Ttvo Angry Women, (H, Old Plays, 
vii, 338, Lean, II. ii). I hate burning as I do the devil and 
a dry proverb. Shirley, Honoria arid Mammon, IV, iii, 1659. 
Lean II, ii. Swift, 1699, NED. Colonel was an Englishman, 
and so hated ridicule worse than the devil. Mason, PK, 162. 
He feared her caustic tongue worse than the devil. "Q", 
MV, 14. 



- 138 - 

Cupid's wanton snares/ As hell she hated. Spenser, FQ, I, x, 30. 

J. Davies, A Select Second Husband &c., 1616, Lean, II, ii. 

This deed hateful as Hell. Day, BBB, 1852. 

I do hate him as I do hell-pains. Shak. Oth., I, i, 155. 
Now I hate thee worse than my sin. Beaumont & Fletcher, KK, 

III, iii. A chap she hates like sin. Phillpotts, AP, 244. Cf. 

Worse than any of the seven deadly sins. Day, Isle of Gulls, 

1606, Lean, II, ii. 
I hate it as an unfilled can. Shak., TN, II, iii, 6. 
He hateth me like poyson. Palsgrave, 1530, NED. Milton, 1645, 

NED, s. V. Toad, Mason . . . hated it like poison. Barham, 

IL, 71. I hate him worse than poison. Dickens, NN, I, ix. 

He hated my cousin Mick like poison. Thackeray, BL, i. 

NED calls it a modern colloquialism. 
To love it as a dog loves a whip. Ray. 
To love it as a cat loves mustard. Ray, Clarke. 
To love as an ape loves a whip. Lean, II, ii. 

As fond of it as an ape of a whip and a bell. Ray. Cf. 

How likst thou this? — As schoole boy lerkes. Apes whips, 

as Lions Cocks,/ As Furies do fasting daies, and divells 

crosses,/ As maides to haue their marriage daies put off:/ I 

like it as the thing I most do loath. Heywood, CGW, 1245 ff. 
Dire antipathies 

'Tween scaly snakes and ashen-trees. 

'Tween toad and spider, frog and mouse, 

'Tween cat and cur in empty house, 

'Tween wolf and sheep-guts made in thermes, 

'Tween charms and proper counter charms, 

Greater antipathy than these 

'Tween bishops is and presbyters. 

Thomas Ward, England^s Reformation C III, 1716, Lean. 

Although strictly speaking these lines contain no proverbial 
sim. they are well worth being chronicled here, as they refer 
to ideas widely current during many centuries. It was com- 
monly believed that there was an inherent contrariety of 
disposition and nature that made one animal or thing hostile 
and destructive to another, which was looked upon as its 
natural opposite. This sort af antipathy was thought to 
prevail between elephant and dragon, between cock and lion 
&c. A lion, it was said, could not stand the crowing of a 
cock. (See above). And the above-quoted lines furnish some 
further insts of the same idea. 

Snakes aiid ash-trees. "The leaves of this tree [ash] are 
of so great vertue against serpents, that they dare not so 
much as touch the morning and evening shadows of the tree, 
but shun them afar off, as Pliny reports. He also affirmeth 
that the serpent being penned in with boughes laid round 
about, will sooner run into the fire, if any be there, than 



— 139 — 

come neare the boughes of the ashe; and that the ash floureth 
before the serpents appare, and doth not cast its leaves before 
they be gon again .... Gerarde, 1597, (Folkard, PL, 232 f). 
This belief is said to still exist in Cornwall (ibid.). In Pliny 
{Nat. Hist. XVI, xiii) we read that a blow from an ash-stick 
kills an adder at once, "so that it does not linger till night." 
(Lean, II, ii, 601). There are some other superstitious beliefs 
connected with the ash-tree. In Somerset an ash-faggot is 
perhaps still used to cheer the Christmas hearth, and Ashen 
faggot Balls are perhaps also held in the county to this very 
day. In many parts of England the ash occupies the same 
position as the rowan in Scotland. As it is a tree that brings 
good luck we find ash-saplings mentioned as remedies, and 
tool-handles must be made of ash-wood. Is this a reminiscence 
of primitive Germanic tree-worship, and connected with the 
belief m the primeval Ash, Ygdrasil, "the greatest and best 
of all trees"? 

Toad a?td spider. "As Pliny saith" was the duToq ecpa 
of sixteenth and seventeenth c. scientists. If a popular belief 
had the verdict of Pliny in its favour it was hopeless to 
attack it. Nevertheless, there lived in the seventeenth c. in 
England a man who was bold enough to do so, Sir Thomas 
Browne, whose work Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries 
into . . . Vulgar and Common Errors, 1646, is worthy of the 
profoundest interest, as he is one of the first to introduce 
modern scientific methods. And this is what he says on 
toads and spiders: "The antipathy between a toad and a 
Spider — and that they poisonously destroy each other — 
is very famous, and Solemn Stories have been written of their 
combats, wherin most commonly the Victory is given unto 
the Spider. . . . But what we have observed herein we cannot 
in reason conceale; who having in a glass included a Toad 
with severall Spiders, we beheld the Spiders without resistance 
to sit upon his head and passe over all his body, which at 
last upon advantage he swallowed down and that in a few 
houres unto the number of seven." Hulme, NH, 94 f. Cf. 
"The toad being smitten of the spider in fight and made to 
swell with her poison, recovereth himself with plantain." Withals, 
Diet., 1616, (Lean, II, ii, 637). 

''Mouse and frog. Some corrupt Judge, that like the kite 
in Aesop, while the mouse & frog fought carried both away". 
Burton, AM, I, 68. 

Cat and cur. See dogs and cats. Disagreement, p. 135. 

Wolf and sheep. "Nature has planted so inveterate a 
hatred atweene the wolf and the sheep, that being dead, yet 
in the secret operation of nature appeareth there a sufficient 
trial of their discording natures, so that the enmity betweene 



— I40 — 

them seemeth not to dye with their bodies." Old Heraldic 
Author, Hulme, NH. 

To whom the French nacion was more odious than a tode. Hall, 
1548. NED. 

To hate a person like a toad. Wager, The longer thou 
livest &c., c. 1560 (Lean, II, ii). We would hate it as a toad 
and fly from it as an Adder. Nashe, II, 112, 1593. I do 
hate a proud man, as I hate the engenderings of toads. 
Shak., TC, II, iii, 153. To hate one another like a toad or 
poison. Milton, 1645, NED. More odious to the eyes than 
toads and adders. Dryden, SF, (VI, 497). Cf. also the 
following sim.: — It behoueth also that he abhorre flatterie 
as a Toad. Day, 1586, NED. Here is the babe, as loathsome 
as a toad/ Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime. Shak., 
TA, IV, ii, 67. 

A foul mis-shapen stigmatic,/ Marked by the destinies to be 
avoided. As venom toads, as lizards' dreadful stings. Shak., 
KH Vic, II, ii, 136. As foul as a toad, as awkward as a 
toad, see p. 103, and Ugly, Ch. III. 

The toad is the type of all things hateful and loathsome. 
It was the creation of the devil and the shape in which he 
sometimes appeared (Sloet, Dieren, 345, 353), and as his 
servant and confederate it is intimately connected with witch- 
craft. It is represented as swelling with poison: A toade 
swels with thick troubled poison. (Nashe). And numerous 
are the references, in English and other languages, to its 
venomous and spiteful nature. It was dangerous to look at 
it, and to be looked in the eyes by a toad meant death. 
Hence persons and things that were looked upon as loathsome, 
hateful, and miserably worthless were called toads, and are 
often so still. (Rec. fr. the middle of the sixteenth c): A cursed 
toad of a horse. 1774, Lean. I know every inch about her; 
and there's not a more bitter cantankerous toad in all Christ- 
endom. Goldsmith, SSC, 242. He said uncomplimentary 
things, called us sons of toads, and damned us from hell to 
breakfast. London, R, 272. &c. — The belief in the poisonous 
nature and the baleful influence of the toad lived on far down 
into the nineteenth c, and is perhaps not yet quite extinct. 
See N. & Q., 8, VII passim. 

And all that else the vaine world vaunten may, I loath as doung, 
Spenser, FO, III, x, 31. 



CHAPTER II. 

SIMILES CHIEFLY REFERRING TO THE 
HUMAN BODY. 

Dead. 

He that died half a year ago is as dead as Adam. Bohn. 

As dead as Pharao. Bret Hart. 

As dead as Julius Caesar. Slang, Modern. Stevenson, NAN, 308. 

As dead as Queen Anne. — Mrs Winifred Pryce was as dead as 
Queen Anne. Barham, IL, 44. N. & Q., 2, IX, 488. Speaking 
of the proposed revival of some parliamentary measure Mr. 
Jo. Chamberlain, some twenty years ago, declared it to be 
"as dead as Queen Anne." N. & Q., 11, I, 430. Cf. the 
proverbial saying "Queen Anne is dead", which signifies that 
a person to whom it is used is imparting stale news. "In 
reply to your letter and Fanny's, Lord Brougham . . isn't 
dead, — though Queen Anne is." Barham, IL, 214. In 
Sussex there is said to be a proverb "My Lord Baldwin's 
dead", which means precisely the same thing. (N. & Q., ii, 

I, 430). Swift has a similar phrase: Lady Smart What 

news, Mr. Neverout? Neverout. Why, Madam, Queen Elizabeth's 
dead. PC, i. It is to be noticed that Queen Anne also 
denotes an old-fashioned tale (n. Yks) "Tell us some o' you-r 
aud Queen Anners." (Wright, RS, 189). Cf. And then 
Quen Anne, that's dead, gie the chief bits of pension. Scott, 
RR, xxvi. — There has been a good deal of controversy as 
to the origin of these phrases. No inst. before Barham has 
as yet been discovered, and the circumstance that the sim. 
in question is included in no collection of proverbs that has 
been consulted, seems to indicate that it cannot be very 
common. It must have originated shortly after the Queen's 
death. When in July 17 14 the Queen was on the point v'- 
death it was not yet settled, in spite of the Settlement Act 
of 1 70 1, who was to be her successor. The final chapter of 
Henry Esmond gives us a hint as to the intense interest with 
which her demise was awaited, and the perilous intrigues that 
threatened to bring about a civil war. Hence the country 
must have been full of rumour and expectation. The news 
of her actual death was regarded as of the utmost importance, 
and was anxiously and eagerly told by those who had heard 
it to their neighbours and friends, and so, perhaps, everybody 
went on telling it to everybody else until it was generally 



— 142 — 

known, and became stale news. Being decidedly colloquial 
and perhaps looked upon as somewhat disrespectful, it did 
not find its way into books until rather late. It is nevertheless 
possible, though there is no evidence for it, that Swift's Queen 
Elizabeth really stood for Queen Anne. 
The man is as tead as my great grand ffather. Smollet, RR, 237. 
The spirit of action is as dead in Alsatia as is my old 
grannuvi. Scott, Nigel, xvii. 
As dead as charity. Field, Woman is a Weathercock, IV, ii. Lean, 
II, ii. See Matt. 24, 12. Cf Ch. IV, Cold. 

As dead as a Biscuit. — Used by a gamekeeper near Lowestoft 
of some game. Folk-Lore, XXXVII, 157, Cf. As dry as a 
biscuit, p. 48. 

He had ended his earthly career,/ — He had gone off at once 
with a flea in his ear;/ The black Mousquetaire was as dead 
as small beer. Barham, IL, 258. Dead, flat, vapid, of wine 
and beer, is rec. in NED 1552 — 1747. Cf Plucking Elderton 
out of the ashes of his Ale, and not letting him inioy his 
nappie muse of ballad making to himselfe, but now when he 
is as dead as dead beer, you must be finding fault with the 
brewing of his meeters, Nashe, I, 280, 1592. 

As dead as mutton. Brady, Var. of Lit., 1826. Selby, 1835, 
Slang. Common. Brady explains the phrase as pointing to 
the fact that mutton is always dead sheep. The phrase is 
also used of persons and things very dull, inanimate. Suff. EDD. 

The old gentleman was plum colour, and as dead d,s pork. Phillpotts, 
VVF, 357. Feathers of the Sun will be as dead as a dead pig. 
London, SS, 227. What is said of mutton also applies to pork. 

Dead as the mitten. A sea-phrase. Suff. Folk- Lore, XXXVII, 157. 

He's quite dead, you said, Dick? — Dead as a ninepin. Besant, 
RMM, 127. Cf It's a cold I caught last year as has tumbled 
my ninepins over, and lef me a-dyin' here. Sims, 1878. 
Slang. The sim. may have some connection with phrases 
like, When his Holiness rolled on the green like a king of 
the nine-pins. Scott, 18 19, NED. Little urchins . . tumbled 
about like ninepins. Musgrave, 1864. Cf. Small, Ch. III. 

As dead as a hommer. Laycock, 1866, EDD. — I chucked my 
stick at that ther rat, an' killed un as 'dead as a hammer'. 
Brks. He's here I tell you — sunk down into some hole at 
the bottom — and dead as a hammer by now. Phillpotts, 
AP, 364. Som. Dev. Lan. "In daily use." Blakeborough, 
NRY, 239. 

You . . snatched the knife, and jammed it into him just as he 
fetched you another awful clip, and here you've laid dead as 
a wedge till now [says Indian Joe]. Twain, TS, 81. What is 
there particularly dead about a wedge? Is it because it is 
so often knocked on the head? 

For but ich haue bote of me bale I am dead as a dorenail. Will. 



— 143 — 

Palerme, 1350, NED. Fey withouten fait is febelore pen nougt,/ 
And ded as a dorenail. Langiand, PPI, A, I, 161. Weele 
strike it as dead as doore naile. Nashe, I, 258, 1592. If 
you will needes strike it as dead as a dore naile. G. Harvey, 
Pierce s Super., Slang. He's as dead as a doornail; for I 
gave him seven knocks on the head with a hammer. Farquhar, 
1700, Slang. Gay, NS. When I lie dead as a door-nail, 
Ode of 1791, N. & Q., 8, V, 196. The boat of Charon will 
push a difficult furrow through innumerable bodies, brick-bat- 
laden, of purless, soulless dead-as-doornail cats. Thompson, 
1864, Slang. Besant, RMM, 96. Foe, TMI, 30. Yks. Folk- 
Lore, XLV, 429. Lean has some further inst. 1579, 1596, 
1599, 1608, 1614, 1633, 1638. In W. there are laterinst.fr. 
Bulwer, Besant & Rice, Twain, Bolderwood, Wells. 
What, is the old king dead.^ — As nail in door. Shak., KH IVb, 
V, iii, 119. The canon's head lies on the bed — his Niece 
lies on the floor:/ They are as dead as any nail that is in 
any door. Barham, IL, 323. — The sim. is also used of other 
things: "Of a troth", quoth she, "this is but bad wine, it is 
even as dead as a doore naile." Deloney, Gentle Craft., c. 
1610, ed. Lange, I, 85. The Congo treaty may now be 
regarded as being as dead as a doornail. Pall Mall G., 
1884, NED. 

As jed as a dur nail. Chs. Jed, dial, form of dead. Current 
in some midl. counties. 

"This proverbial expression is oftener used than understood. 
The door nail is the nail on which in ancient doors the knocker 
strikes." Steevens (Foster). So also Slang &c. But on the 
other hand NED maintains that there is no evidence that 
this nail is the striking-plate of the knocker. The above inst. 
in Shak., Farquhar, and Barham make it clear that, unreflect- 
ingly, English writers have associated the word with the nails 
with which doors are still studded for strength, protection or 
ornamentation. Such nails in doors are frequently referred to. 
Cf. the proverb, 'He that will make a door of gold must 
knock in a nail every day'. (H). and. Via lactea, a confused 
light of small Stars, like so many nails in a door. Burton, 
AM, II, 59. 

However, there always remains the question how the word 
has come to be a symbol of extreme 'deadness'. According 
to Skeat, 'dead as a door-nail' is a secondary development, 
'dead as a door-post, door-tree' being the original form. He 
is of the opinion that a substitution of door-post (tree) for 
door-nail would make the sim. somewhat more intelligible, 
as the wood of which it was formed was once part of a 
live tree. "The proverb was then transferred from the door- 
post itself to the nails that studded the door without any 
great care as to maintaining the sense of the expression. 



— 144 — 

There are other sayings in the same plight." (N. & Q., 3, 
XI, 177). This is an attempt at a rational solution of the 
problem, but as such it is too rational as it presupposes 
logical reasoning and intelligibility as necessary governing 
principles in phrase-making, and, on the other hand, it is not 
rational enough, as, to a certain extent, it takes for granted 
what is to be proved. Why should the proverb be "trans- 
ferred"' to the nails? There are other parts of the door to 
which it might have been transferred with just as much reason. 
And why was it transferred.? 

The problem before us is why precisely the 7iails should 
be selected, and that question he has left just as unanswered as 
it was before. It is true there is in Langland the sim. "as 
dead as a dore-tre", but our form of the sim. is still older, 
which makes it possible that 'as dead as a door-nail' was the 
original form. The word occurs in several other sim.: 'as 
daft &c., (p. 48) as dour &c. (p. 100), as deaf &c. (p. 173), 
as dumb (p. 177), as stunt' (Lin. N. & Q,, 12, III, 275) &c. 
Although we have 'deaf as a door(-tre, post)', 'dumb as 
a door' we cannot suppose door-nail to have replaced door-tree 
in an these sim. We must start from the word door-nail itself. 
Dickens was perhaps not altogether wrong in what he said 
of this sim., Christmas Carol, "Old Marley was as dead as a 
door-nail. Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my 
own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door- 
nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin- 
nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But 
the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile, and my unhallowed 
hands shall not disturb it, or the country's done for." Now, 
what did "our ancestors" see in the doornail.? To judge 
from the above sim. it is the symbol of what is daft, dour, 
deaf, dumb, dead. And we have further "as hard, as dead, 
as deaf, as stiff as a nail." This shows that the word is used 
as a symbol of all that is extremely hard, stiff, stark, lifeless, 
these words being taken in a more or less loose or wide sense. 

Now, why is door-nail preferred to 7iail in most of these 
sim.? The answer is quite simple. For the sake of alliteration. 
We have "as dead as a nail'', but the other form is far more 
common. The same thing also applies to "deaf as a door- 
nail" and "deaf as a nail'', and the only possible rendering 
of the dial, phrase "as dour as a door-nail'' is not "hard as 
a door-nail" but "hard as a nail." Wherever alliteration is 
impossible, the simplex is preferred. It is chronologically 
mteresting that the forms with the simplex 7iail occur very 
much later than the others, being rec. only from about the 
middle of last century, (see p. "^"J, p. 163, and Hard, Ch IV). 
But this is no serious obstacle to the view that the sim. owes 



— 145 — 

its origin to the idea of tiie nail as something stiff, stark, and 
lifeless. On the contrary, it is only as it should be. On 
the whole, alliteration plays a more important part on the 
earlier stages of a language than later on when speakers and 
hearers are less dependent on outward means. It is therefore 
quite in accordance with general principles that the earliest 
insts should be found in the alliterative poems of the fourteenth 
century. 

Noaks or Thimbleby — toaner 'ed shot 'um as dead as a nadil. 
Tennyson, 1864, EDD. Oh my God! all up with poor master'. 
Dead as a nail, an' drowned in his own blood. Phillpotts, 
AP, 472. 

As ded as a dore-tre. Langland, PPl, B, I, 185. There is said 
to be an inst. in a curious book "Letters from the Living to 
the Living, written by several hands" and published anony- 
mously in London, 1703. N. & Q., 8, II, 66. According to 
NED door-tree, door-post, is obs. since 1377. 

As dead as a door-post. Roget. Storm, EP, 592, mentions this sim. 
without giving any reference, and says that it is very old. — 
The relations between the sim. with door-nail and door-post 
(tree) have already been discussed above. It must be added 
that door-post and the simplex door are used in other allitera- 
tive sim.: "as deaf as a door, or door-post", "as dumb as a 
door." Just as any post or block was looked upon as a symbol 
of stiffness and insensibility, the door-post could be used to 
denote the same thing, whether it was the complete immobility 
and insensibility of death or the more partial and special one 
of deafness or dumbness. See p. 48, and Deaf, p. 173, 
and Stiff, Ch. IV. 

As dead as a te7it-peg. Slang, modern. The word tent-peg seems 
to be a modernism, being rec. fr. 1869. In the early part 
of last century people had tent-pins, but NED does not seem 
to tell us what they had before that time. In Bible language 
tent-7iail is used. See Tall, Long, Ch. III. 

Dead as Chelsea. Grose, 1788, H. National Magazine, 1833, 
N. & Q., 5, XII, 29. H. quotes the proverbial expression to 
get Chelsea', to obtain the benefit of that hospital. H. 

As dead as a dog that lieth in a ditch. Rowlands, Good Newes 
&c., 1622, Lean, II, ii. Cf. the name Houndsditch. 

[The rabbits were] as dead as moles. Eliot, MF, 29. 

Ez deead ez a mauky ratten. — In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. 
As dead as a rat. N. & Q., 4, I, 434. This probably applies 
to the dead rats that one sometimes sees lying about. A 
mauky ratten is perhaps such a dead rat that is infested by 
mawks. Cf. 'cold as a rat.' Suf. EDD. 

Cf. the German So ddiid as'ne Mens, and nieuseddud. Wander. 
Cf. Drunk p. 207 

10 



— 146 — 

Toryism is as dead as a dodo. DNL, 5/3, '13. Cf. It will be as 
obsolete as the dodo. Harraden, hiterp, 449. He belongs 
to the Dodo race of unmitigated Toryism. Lisle, 1874, NED. 
[The reddleman] was one of a class rapidly becoming ex- 
tinct in Wessex, filling at present in the rural world the place 
which, during the last century, the dodo occupied in the world 
of animals. Hardy, RN, 10. The following verses on the 
dodo becoming extinct are worth quoting. — 

Do-do, Vasco di Gama 

Sailed from the Cape of Good Hope with a crammer 

How he had met, in the isle of Mauritious, 

A queer bird what was not very vicious, 

Called by the name of a Do-do, 

And all the world thought what he said was true. 

Do-do! Alas, there are left us 

No more remains of the DiiiMS ineptiis: 

And so, on the progress of science, all prodigies 

Must die, as the palm-trees will some day at Loddigies', 

And like our wonderful Do-do, 

Turn out not worth the hullabaloo. 

Prof Forbes, Fugitive Verses connected with Natural Sciences (1869). 

It is followed by a ditty intended to be sung in opposition 
to Prof. Forbes's verses on the Do-do., at one of the dinners 
of the Red Lion at Oxford, 1847,: — 

Of all the queer birds that ever you'd see, 

The Dodo is the queerest of Coumbidae, 

For all her life long she ne'er sat on a tree, 

For when the Dutch came, away went she. 

Tee-wit, tee-wo, I'd have you to know 

There ne'er was such a bird as our famed Dodo. 

See N. & Q., 9, VII, 16. For some further notes on the 
discovery of the bird, its natural history, and the origin of 
its name see Enc. Brit, and N. & Q., 1850 passim, where it 
appears that the bird attracted a good deal of interest about 
the middle of last century. 

As dead as a salmon. C. Anstey, N. Bath Gtdde, 1830, Lean, II, ii. 
Salmon dies very soon when taken out of the water. 

As dead as a smelt. Yks. EDD. Used of a horse. — We are not 
told what this smelt is. Probably the salmon-smelt or smolt, 
a word found chiefly in Sc. and n. Cy dial. 

There you are now! The three minutes' fight has completely taken 
the wind out of you. That's the last flap of your tail; the 
widow has killed you 'as dead z.^ a mackerel. T. Norris, Amer. 
Angl. Book., Cowan, PS, 139. See Dumb, Mute p. 178. 

As dead as Herring, Stockfish, or Door-nail. Otway, 1680, NE!D. 

As dead as herring. — The earliest allusion to this sim. is found 
in Shak., MW, II, iii, 12, where Caius, the Frenchman is made 
to say, "De herring is no dead, so I vill kill him." Insts in 
T. Nabbes, Tottenh. Court, 1638, (Lean, II, ii), Butler, H, II, 42; 



— 147 — 

Gay, NS. Smollet. RR, i6; Burns, 1785, S /an^, - Reade, 1856, 
NED; CasseVs Mag. of Fiction, 156, '14; Wood, Manx P.; 
Cowan, PS, 33. — It occurs also in slightly different forms: 
As dead as a herring in a straw. Kingsley, WH, 241; Dead 
as herrings — herrings that are red. Rhodes, 1790, Slang; 
There is no more life in you than in a picked herring. Barham, 
IL, 106. — Herrings die sooner on leaving the water than 
most fish. Cowan, 1. c, is of another opinion, "To the masses, 
the herring is known only as a dead fish in the market and 
stores; and presumably the simile has arisen from this fact." 

Ez dead ez a red lobster. — "As the lobster must be boiled for 
some time before assuming the red colour, we may with some 
certainty conclude that the crustacean has ceased to exist (?) 
ere it dons its red jacket." Blakeborough, NRY, 244. 

Ez deead ez a teead's skin. — In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 

Dead in a minute as a Nit. Wolcot, 1789. NED. It wud o' kilt 
me us deeod us o' nit in e had. Lan. 1819, EDD. Down he 
fell as dead as a nit. Thackeray, 1838, NED. "Is he dead.?" 
asked Rose, shuddering. "Iss, fegs, dead as nits'." Kingsley, 
WH, 107. It was the packman; his box behind him; his face 
smashed in, and as dead as nits. Lin. Also in Glo. Ken. Dev. 
Shr. Northall, FPh, 8. Killed as dead as a nit. Hardy, TM, 
258. [All will] die as dead as nits. Hardy, FMC, 156. — 
One of the regular sim. commonly used as the superlative 
absolute of dead. Elworthy, WSG, 514. — The above insts 
seem to point out that the sim. is chiefly used to denote 
violent death. 

What ails my watch? She's faintit clean away,/ As dead's a maivk, 
her case is such,/ Her pulse she winna play. A. Scott, 1805, 
Rxb, EDD. Our bonny tortoise shell cat. Tommy, ... as 
dead as a mawk. Moir, Sc. 1828, EDD. My mither's as dead 
as a mawk. Graham, Lnk, 1883, EDD. See Sick, III. p. 164. 

As dead as a inaggot. — Applied only to animal and man. Som. 
EDD. 

As dead as a block. D. Rogers, Naanian, 1642, Lean, II, ii. Cf. 
Sleeping, p. 169. 

Heroude ... he sleef) his leches deed 2,?, cole. Cursor Mundi, 1340, 
NED. No doubt refers to a piece of charcoal in which there 
is no spark of fire. 

My poor dumb brain gets as dead as a clot. Hardy, MC, 117. 
Clot, a clod of earth, obs. in st. E since 1647, ^^^ (Xx-dX. See 
Cold, Ch IV, and cf. the German Todt tvie eine Sode. (Sode, 
piece of sward or peat.) Wander. 

He only dislocated his verterbrae — but that did quite as well. 
He was as dead as ditch-ivater . Barham, IL, 56. Zo dead's 
ditchwater. Hewett, Dev. ii. Dead, of water, still, stagnant. 
Cf. Dull, 54. — As dead as ditches. Lean, II, ii. Source not 
identifiable. 



— 148 — 

Well, he s dead now, he is — dead as a bilge. Stevenson, TI, 93. 
— Bilge, bilge-water, the foul water that collects in a ship's 
bilge, or the lowest part of its hull, is rec. fr. 1829. 



Wrinkled and Withered from Old Age, 
Of Low Vitality. 

He was quite bald, and as wrinkled as an old ncsset apple. Phill- 
potts, AP, 38. Wrinkled, at least fr. Shak., MV, IV, i, 270. 
As wisejied as a zvinter apple. Yks. EDD. Cf. Kizzen-faced. 
Wizzen, often applied to small withered and shrivelled apples. 
Lakel. EDD. There is also an adjective wizen, 'a gay little 
wizen old man.' Mme D'Arblay, 1791, CD. 
Imagine a thin but extremely wiry man, past middle age, 
brown and bloodless as any crab-apple. Hornung, TN, loi. 
I am withered like an old apple John. Shak., KH IVa, III, iii, 3. 
Her face (like an old Apple-john) all shrivelled. Mabbe, 1623, 
NED. Cf. Poor Jemmy — he is but a withered little apple-john. 
Ivring, 181 1. NED. 

[Cares, sorrows] attenuate our bodies, dry them . . rivel them 
up like old apples, make them as so many anatomies. Burton, 
AM, I, 323. 

The body of an old man is weak and wearish and as full of 
zvrinkles as a raisin. Baret, 1580, Lean, III. 

If a man was as cold as a zvagon tire, provided there was any 
life in him, she'd bring him to. J. Hall, 1833, Thornton. It 
is also used of animal or man when quite dead: 'You're no 
account, to be afraid of a dead bear. He's as cold as a wagon 
tire. ibid. 

But he is old and ivithered like hay. Spenser, F'Q, III, ix, 5. Cf. 
Coarse as grass, p. 107. 

His body leane and meagre as a rake. And skin all zvitliered like 
a dryed rooke ; Thereto as cold and drery as a snake. Spenser, 
FQ, II, xi, 22. What is the precise sense of dreary r 

As cold and starved as a zvhinnard. Cor. One who is looking very 
cold, is said to be 'looking like a whinnard'. WJiinnard, red- 
wing, Turdus iliacus. 

A creature like you, so thin as a herring and as cold as a frog 
rising up to such fierce heat. Phillpotts, WF, 344. See Cold, 
Ch. IV. 

As miserly and dry as a hex. Bernard, Terence, 1580, Lean, II, ii. 
You're so thin, a Body may see through you, and as dry as 
kecks. Bailey, 1725, NED. Kix, kex, fig. for a dried-up, 
sapless person, rec. 161 1 — 171 1. Kickes the drie stalke of 
humblockes. Palsgrave, 1530, NED. See Thirsty, p. 190. 



149 



Old. 

For the sake of convenience all sim. referring to remote, as 
well as high, age have been collected here. 

"The Signora Brandi is not young. She is old. She is as old 
as — " "Methuselah? Sin? The Hills? suggested John. Harland, 
MFP, 89. 

He speaks of things more ancient than chaos. H — Chaos, the 
"formless void" of primordial matter out of which cosmos was 
evolved, rec. fr. 1440, NED. 

By many a temple half as old as Time. Sam. Rogers, Italy, 1842, 
A rose-red city half as old as time. Dean Burgon, Petra, 1845, 
A city that might well be "half as old as time." Morning 
Post, 1 8/ VII '13. 

A woman drawn across a man's trail. The trick is as old as the 
ages. Caine, EC, 103. 

A great name, ancient as history, and no income. A gorgeous 
palace, as old as the pyramids, and no cook. Caine, EC, 131. 

As old as Ada7n. Northall, FPh. 9. "Generally used as a reproof 
for stating as news something well known." Brewer, Diet. 

§if a Mon may libben heer As long as dude Matussale. 1380, NED. 
As old as Methuselah. Roget; Northall, FPh, 9. 
'Twill never fade from me If i live to be as old as a dozen 
Methuselahs. Pinero, BD, 76. Cf. Were I to live to the age 
of Methusalem. Smollet, RR, 8. — This sim. is found in many 
languages: German, Alt ivie Methusalem, Fr. Vieux conime 
Mathusalem, Zoo oud als Methusalem. For several Sw. insts 
fr. 1 7 16 to modern times, and a Danish of 1682 see Hjelmquist. 

Ez aud ez my grandfather' s hat. — In daily use. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 244. Cf. 'an old hat', a Cum. expression for an old 
person. 

As old as the itch. H. Itch is rec. in E. since c. 8co. NED. 

As old as Paul's, or Paid' s steeple. Ray. She's as old as Poles. 
Swift, PC, 258. "Different are the dates of the age thereof, 
because it had two births or beginnings, one when it was 
originally confounded by King Ethelbert, with the body of the 
church, anno 610, another when burnt with lightening, and 
afterward rebuilt by the hishops of London, 1087." Ray. 
These words are of interest because they make it evident that 
Ray did not think of the actual St. Paul's and the spire he 
knew when penning these lines. When the first edition of 
his book appeared St. Paul's was nothing but "a sad ruin", 
to quote one of his contemporaries, as it had been badly 
damaged by the Great Fire. Of the ancient steeple Ray had 
seen nothing, as it was burnt down more than a century be- 
fore, and the flat trunk that remained had aptly given rise to 
the sim. "as blunt as St. Paul's". But what he remembered 



— 150 — 

best was Inigo Jones's turret, a poor substitute for the lofty 
spire tiiat had taken so firm a hold upon the imagination of 
the Londoners of the i6th century as to occasion not only 
this sim. but numerous other proverbial phrases. By his dates 
Ray gives a hint that the sim. itself must be old, and as a 
matter of fact it is found already in Nashe, II, 172. (See 
Stow, Survey of London, Wheatly, Mediaeval London, p. 334 f., 
Loftie, London Afternoons, Ji ff.). 

As o/d as Ciiaring Cross. Webster, Westw. Hoi II, i, 1607. Ray, 
Slang, The old cross was finished in 1294. Wheatly. 

As old as Knock Cross. "A Westmoreland comparison, bespeaking 
extreme antiquity. Parallel with the above is that o{ Canny 
Newcastle, to wit — 'as awde as Pandon Yatts'. [See below]. 
Knock, anciently Knock Shalock, is a pretty good village in 
the parish of Long Marton." Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore 
XXIX, 207. 

As old as Panton Gates. H., Brewer, Diet. 938. "As old as 
Pandon, P. Yatts. The first form of the proverb is given by 
Grey, 1649. The latter is used in the southern portion of the 
Bishopric and the county of York. Pandon was anciently 
spelled "Pampdene". Nothing is more general than the above 
saying when anyone would describe the great antiquity or 
anything . . . Pandon was anciently a distinct town from New- 
castle, but was united thereto by a charter of Edw. I. "Den- 
ham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 300. 

As old as Glastonbui-y torre. Ray. This is what he says, "This 
torre, i. e. tower, so called from the Latin turris, stands upon 
a round hill in the midst of a level, and may be seen far off. 
It seemed to me to have been the steeple of a church that 
had formerly stood upon that hill though now scarce any 
footsteps of it remain." H. gives the sim. in this form: 'as 
old as Glastonbury Tower! He says of Ray that he has 
copied all the childish errors of his predecessors. It is to be 
feared that H. himself has done something of the same kind 
this time. He might have had another of his cheap triumphs 
over Ray if he had only looked up Halliwell, where he would 
have found Tor, a hill, Devon. — It is not at all Latin, but 
a Celtic word meaning a high rock, used according to NED 
in proper names in Cornwall, Devon, and sporadically other 
counties, e. g. Glastonbury Tor in Somerset. "The late abbot 
of Glastonberye . . . was drawen thorough the town upon a 
hurdyll to the hyll called the Torre. Pollard, 1539. NED. 
For several modern insts of the word, partly in appellative 
uses, see Phillpotts, AP, and cf. "Near the town [Glastonbury] 
IS the Tor, on which stands the ruined church of St. Michael". 
Cambr. Coimty Geographies, Co. Som. p. 1S3. But on the 
other hand, we do find Gl. Tower. Burton has this form (AM, 
^^> 79)> but it is perhaps a misunderstanding owing to the 



— 151 — 

close resemblance between the early seventeenth c. pronun- 
ciations of tower and tor. — History and tradition agree to 
assign a high old age to Gl. "Mr. Camden doth quote the 
ancient historian, William of Malmesbury, to write these words 
following concerning Glastonbury. That it was the first land 
of God in England, the first land of saints in England, the 
beginning and fountain of all Religion in England, the tomb 
of Saints, the mother of Saints, the church founded and built 
by the Lords disciples." Taylor, WV, 8. 

At Honiton, and in the country round, "as old as Dump'n' used 
to be, and perhaps still is, a popular expression, the reference 
being to a British or Roman earthwork conspicuously visible on 
Dumdon Hill, close by. [In Devon]. N. & Q., 5, VI, 364. 

As old as Cale Hill. Kent, five miles n. of Ashford. Clarke. 

As old as Pendle Hill. Lane. Howell, 1659. See p. 27. 

Why, he is as old as the Hills. 18 19. NED. The superstition . . . 
is almost as old as the hills. 1898, NED. "One of them, the 
young one, is uncommonly pretty, too," he vouchsafed. "The 
other's as old as the hills, and as rugged ..." CasseV s Mag. 
of Fict. '14, 182; Hardy, W, 282; Hewett, Dev.; Brewer, Diet., 
913; Northall, FPh., 10. For a punning application of the 
sim. see Jackson & Burne, 472. — The reference is said to 
be Gen. 49, 26, Prov. 8, 25, Job, 15, 7. If so, it is remarkable 
that no earlier inst. has been rec. It has been found in a 
Norw. dial, also, "Skrine er ganialt som alle haugar" Haakon 
Garaasen, Tungsjdaetta, 163. (The box is as old as all hills). 

As old as a serpent. Lean; H. — This sim. is given without any 
reference, which, as has already been said p. ']']., means that 
the phrase in question is borrowed from Bohn's Complete 
Alphabet of Proverbs. This applies at least to our sim. It is 
given by Bohn, who refers to Ray in his own reprint p. 190. 
It is given there, but only as a translation of the Port. Velho 
coma serpe. Consequently we are entitled to doubt the indi- 
genous character of this "English" Proverb. In Port, it is 
po.ssibly a reference to Rev. 12, 9, that old serpent &c. 

Note. Er ist so alt wie der Bremer Wald. II est vieux comme 
les pierres. Cf. Germ. Steinalt. Zoo oud als de weg van Rome. Zoo 
oud als de weg, de straat. Vieux comme les chemins, les rues. Gam- 
mal som gatan. Wander, Stoett, NS, 515. 



Healthy, Hardy. 

Note. For sim. with Brisk and Peart (pert) see the following 

section. 
"'As hard as the devil's forehead' is another expressive phrase I 

have heard on more than one occasion." N. & Q., 9, IV, 478. 
Hard as Wrag lad. — Spoken of a person whom nothing can 



— 152 — 

hurt. lVra£ was a baker of Chesterfield; and sending his 
prentice over the moors with bread the boy was overtaken 
with a severe snowing night, and was forced to lodge on the 
moors all night, where with his panniers and saddle, he con- 
trived to save himself, but the horse perished. (Wrag =:=: 
VVrag's). Pegge, Derbicisins, 104. 

He looked as robust as a ploughboy. Besant & Rice, AS, 1 1 . This 
sense of robust fr. 1549, NED. 

Then he descended, fresh as a boy. Bennet, BA, 43. Cf. His skin 
was fresh and healthy as a lad's. Hardy, DR, 354. As hale 
and hearty as a three-year-auld bairn. Per. 1897, EDD. 

The sick, the weake, the lame also, A coach for ease might beg; 
When they on foot might rightly goe, That are as right's my 
leg. Coaches' Over throw, Roxb. Ball. Ill, 338. 

To look as big as bull-beef. Cf. Straight, Ch. III. Right, Ch. IV. 
To look very stout and hearty, as if fed on bull-beef. Common 
colloquialism at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning 
of the nineteenth c. Slang; Brewer; Halliwell, See p. 82, 
Protid. 

When asked how he was getting on ... he replied that he was 
^rigJit as ni?iepe^ice\ 'cepting a bit of rheumatism in his left 
shoulder. Slang, 1882. I'll be as reet as ninepence in the morn. 
Dur. 1900. EDD. For othet insts of this sim. see Right, Ch. IV. 

Sound as a dollar, thank you, and no kick to register, either. 
London, DS, 32. 

As fit as a fiddle. Haughton, Englishm. for my Money, IV, i 
(16 16; H). "Is Salathiel pretty fresh .'^" asked the baron. "As 
fit as a fiddle." Braddon, 1882, NED. Inst, of 1886, Slang. 
Vachel, WJ, 215. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. 
Looking fit and taut as a fiddle. Stevenson, TI, 109. — "We 
presume the reference is to the fact that a fiddle is strung up 
to the adequate pitch before it is used." N. & O., X, 10, 188. 
Fit, in good health, perfectly well, from the racing term, fit, 
in good form, rec. fr. 1869. But the earliest inst. is more 
than 250 years older than that. Was the sense originally 
proper, suitable, welcome.^ Cf. Right as a fiddle. Right, Ch. IV. 

They be people commonly healthy, and as sound as a Bell. Newton, 
1576, NED. From that time forwards, he remained well and 
lusty, and as sound as a Bell. 1608, NED. For a fig. use, 
see Shak., MA, III, ii, ii. Fortune did so happily contrive, 
That we (as sound as bells) did safe arrive at Dover. Taylor, 
DS, 7. Gay, NS. Insts in NED of 1865, 1898. After all, he 
was a strong man — his doctor had assured him he was as 
sound as a bell. London Mag. ]\ynQ, '15, p. 412. I don't much 
like the look of those sheep. — Don'ee, sir? I'll warn 'em 
soun's a bell. Som. EDD. Ez soond ez a bell. In daily use. 
Blakeborough, NRY, 240. See also Right, Ch. IV. 

As reet as a wooden clock, as far as yelth is concerned. Lan. EDD. 



— 153 — 

In what way is a wooden clock more 'right' than any other 
clock? 

1 hope you are well, sir. — Right as a trivet. Dickens, PP, II, 
372. Ibid. 1843, Slang. How are you? — Right as a trivet. 
Taylor, 1855, Slang. For other applications of this sim. see 
Right, Ch. IV. 

This is his third day's rest, and the cob will be about as fresh 
as paint when I get across him again. Yates, 1864, Slang. 
Though nearly seventy years of age, he is still hale and 'fresh 
as paint. '1881, NED. Why, yow look as fresh as paint this 
morning. Nrf. EDD. See Bright, Ch. III. Used everywhere. U. 

Every muscle rendered as tough as whipcord by constant exercise. 
Scott, W, X. My flesh is as stringy as whipcords, and as 
bitter and mean as the bite of a rattlesnake. London, SB, 135. 
Cf. All skin and whipcord, of one in good condition. Slang. 
The bishop [was] wonderfully hale and whipcordy. Wilberforce. 
Tough, capable of great physical endurance, dates fr. 1330. 
For other senses of the word, see Tough, Ch. IV. 

Hard as nails in condition. Horlock, 1862, NED. He stood it for 
a week or two without flinching — being at that date hard 
as nails, as he expresses it. Slang. The men look as hard as 
nails and fit for anything. The Times, 1885, NED. Physical 
training had made this youth as hard as nails. Whiteing, No. 
5, 142. You're not strong enough for sea life. Why, man, 
these sailor fellows are as hard as nails; and even they can 
hardly stand it. Shaw, CBF, 40. Used of sailors also in DNL, 
22/vii, '13. Rathbeal . . . struck me as hard as nails not long 
since. 1891, Slang. Hardy, DR, 149, White, BT, 190, &c. 
Ahr young Ben's as hard as neels, yo may run a pin into 
him, an' hey wunna showt. nw. Der. EDD. In a fortnight 
I shall be as right as nails. Astley, 1894, NED. See Hard- 
hearted, 8y, Dead, p. 142 ff". and Hard, Ch. IV. 
He's an oily blufi". And the bunch he's got with him . . . real 
seadogs, middle-aged, marred and battered, tough as rusty 
wrought-iron nails and twice as dangerous. London, SS, 164. 

He was a short, stiff" chap, hard as iron. Jacobs, MC, 82. Cf. Men 
whose Wits are Lead, whose bodies Iron-hard. Sylvester, 1591, 
NED. 

He was splendidly muscled, and as hard as steel. London, FP, 21. 
See p. 88. Every man as hard as a bar of steel. White, 
SE, 85. 

Lean, wiry, and as hard as adamant, the miser lived in this fast- 
ness. Phillpotts, AP, 15. See p. 89. 

As tough, or tiff, as Billy Whitlams dog, that barked nine times 
after it was dead. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 

Very kind simple creatures. Another thing. They're strong as colts. 
Masefield, CM, 218. Cf. Young Chirrup wur a mettled cowt. 



— 154 — 

Vaugh, 1858. EDD. Colt, fig. for a man of strength, stature, 
and activity. 

She was sthrong an' zcholcsome as a well-fed year ouV . Don. EDD. 
As fierce as a four-year-old. War. EDD. Fierce, brisk, lively, 
in good health. EDD. 

As fresh as a four •year-old. Surtees, Handlcy Cr. 1843 (Lean 
II, ii). Not unfrequent. Of an active old man. U. 

I was 36 ere I pressed to that service; and am now as lusty 
and sound at heart ... as my yoke o{ bullocks. Snotv Storm, 8. 

As hardy as a forest pig. Glo. Northall, FPh. 9. 

As hearty as a buck. Roget. Hearty, in sound health, fr. 1553. 

As hearty as a new sprungn hare. Lan. 1865. 

Making thee young and lusty as an eagle. Ps. 103, 5. 

The tea will take the muddle out of our heads, and we shall be 
as fresh as larks. Hardy, JO, 484. See p. 71. Common. U. 

And man were hay II as birde on bowgh. Songs, 89. Hale, in good 
health, is Sc. and n. Cy only, according to NED. The current 
literary sense, robust, vigorous, fr. 1734. — See p. 72. 

They [two girls] were trim creatures, good to the eye, . . . they 
were fresh as fresh-caught cod. London, GF, 84. 

As fresh as an eel. Towneley Myst. (Cowan, PS, 34). 

Roches . . . are esteemed . . . uncapable of any disease, according 
to the old Proverb, As sound as a Roch. Moufet & Bennet, 
1655, NED. Till some judicious Dolphin might approach. And 
land him safe and sound as any Roach. Denham, 1667, NED. 
I hope you are not wounded.? Sound as a roach, wife. Van- 
brugh, 1697, Slang. My father . . . turned of seventy, and yet 
he's as sound as a Roach still. T. Brown, 1700; Gay, NS; 
Smollet, 175 1 (Cowan, PS, 36); Bohn; Neal, 1825, NED; Der. 
Not. Lei. War. EDD; Brewer &c. Sickly . . .} Not a bit of 
it — sound as a roach. Anstey, 1895, NED. 'As sound as a 
roach' is a very common expression in this county and perhaps 
elsewhere. Boston. N. & Q., 5,11,274. '[A heart] as sound as a 
roach's.' Is not this a novel expression.? N. & Q. ii, X, 468. 
EDD and Brewer explain this roach as meaning rock, and 
Brewer gives the rendering 'as sound as a rock'. But already 
the earliest inst. of the sim. makes the meaning quite clear, 
and Cotgrave settles the matter, '■''Plus sain quun gardon, more 
lively and healthful than a gardon (roach), than which there 
is not any fish more healthful nor more lively." The sim. is 
also Sw. kiy som en mort.'. 

Note. In Lean and Cowan, PS, 34, there is the phrase 
'As hale as a rock fish whole (rock-fish).' This is a very curious 
instance of misquotations and misprints. It hails from Bohn's 
Complete Alphabet, where we have 'as hale as a rock-fish whole, 
189.' But 1. c. there is 'as hail as a roch fish whole,' which 
is a misprint for 'as hail as a roch, fish-whole.' Ray, ed. 1768, 
has, 'As hail as a roch. Fish whole.' 



— 155 — 

f)Ou shal be hool as any troute. Cursor Mundi, (Skeat, EEP, 2i). 
Jests of Widow Edyth, 1525, Lean, II, ii. 

As sound as a trout. Skelton, 15 18; Cogan, Haven of Health, 
1589, Lean, II, ii. "That it is passing wholesome our vulgar 
proverb accordeth: As sound as a trout," and another phrase 
"Fish whole", I think is most mentioned of the trout. Buttes, 
Dyet's Dry Dinner, 1599. Ray. Yks, EDD. 
As healthy as a trout. Nrf. EDD. — 'Whole, sound as a 
trout' are obsolete according to NED. 

What, are they broken? — No, they are both as whole as -a. fish. 
Shak., TGV, II, v, 15. Tom Tyler and his Wife, 1661 
(Cowan, PS, 38). Cf. also the term fish-whole, rec, already in 
the thirteenth c. — The sim. is found in other languages as 
well. Dutch, Zoo gezond als een visch (in het water); Germ. 
gesund wie ein Fisch iin Wasser. Cf. the Fr. Se porter 
coimne le poisson dans I'eau. (Stoett, NS, I, 242); It. Sano 
come un pesce. (Ray). Other fishes, beside the trout and 
the roach are taken as symbols of excellent health. Cf. Frisch 
%vie ein Hecht; Perca Rhenana sanior aut salubrior. Wander. 

As hard as a ground-toad. Pegge, Derbicisms, 137. There was 
Devil Lee too, and his imp, a great big rodney fellow, as 
hard as a groundsel toad. N. & Q., 9, XII, 514. Staf. Lin. 
Yks. w. Midi. EDD. 

He's as hard as a woodpile twoad. Glou. GL, 186. 
He's as hard as a fell teahd. Cum. Of a particularly stout 
and hardy nature. — For other sim. with toad see Foolish, 
p. 52, Fierce, Angry, p. 93, Ill-tempered, 103, Hatred, Anti- 
pathy, p. 140. In the Ch. Gl. there is a phrase 'as hard as a 
north toad', which is said to be 'as hardy as a north-country 
fox,' toad, meaning tod, fox. 

Forth they walked . . zs, fresh as an oyster. 181 5, Barret, NED. 

I feel diS fit as 2, fiea. Not. Yks. See Lively, Peart p. 161. 

As sound as an apple. Romance of Gaufrey, cited by Wright, 
Domestic Manners 1862, p. 279; H. 

I'm twenty years older than you, and my head's as Jiard as a 
nut still. Phillpotts, WF, 263. Cf. I've had my plump time. 
I be near five-an-forty. Yet I was round once, an' so milky 
as a young filbert nut. ibid. AP. 45, and the Shakespearean 
'Kate . . is . . as brown in hue/ As hazel nuts, and sweeter 
than the kernels. See Sweet, Ch. IV. Cf. the Sw. frisk som 
en ndtkdrna, and the Fris. sa frisk as in ?iut. Stoett, NS. I, 412. 

As somtd as an achern. Ch. Gl.; Lan. 'As sound as an ackern, 
is a local proverb, applied to everything from a horse to a 
nut. Wor. EDD. Northall, FPh, 11. See Proud, p, 85, and 
Right, Ch. IV. 

I am certain he looks very pale, and when he came here, he was 
as fresh as a rose. Scott, A, 99. They see him emerge 



- 156 - 

from his carriage, after a long journey, 'fuesh as a rose.' Russel, 
1885, NED. Roget. See Fresh, Bright, Ch. III. 

As fresh as a daisy. Barret, 18 15, Marryat, 1833, NED. Hope, 
PZ, 42. Of anybody who looks untired. Common. U. 

I'm a regular tornado, tough as hickory and long-winded as a 
nor'-wester. 1846, Thornton. General Andrew Jackson was 
first called Tough, then Tough as Hickory, and lastly Old 
Hickory. Brewer, RH, 491. Lots of good men, regular old 
standards, tough as hickory. Masefield, CM, 108. Collo- 
quially hickory has been employed as a nickname for persons 
and objects partaking of the qualities of the wood of this 
tree . . so hickory shirts for their strength. Farmer, 1889, 
NED (Amer.). 

My heart is as sound as an oak. Beaumont & Fletcher, KBP, V, i. 

When 1 was your age I had one suit of underclothes. I was 
riding with the cattle in Colusa. I was hard as rocks, and I 
could sleep on a rock. London, SB, 25. Cf. Then comes 
my fit again: I had else been perfect. Whole as the marble, 
founded as the rock. As broad and general as the casing air. 
Shak., Mb, III, iv, 21. 

Calidore rising up zs fresh as day. Spenser, FQ, VI, iii, 13. Cf. 
The morrowe appeared with joyous cheare . . . Then she, as 
morrotv fresh, her selfe did reare Out of her secret stand . . . 
Spenser, FQ, III, xii, 28. 

Now fresh and youthful as the month of May I'll bid my bride 
good-morrow. Barry, RA, V, i (twice). 

Rise with the lark, which makes us healthful as the spring. Snow 
Storm, 7. 

Wellwyn. . . All well now, Constable — thank you ; Constable. 
First rate, sir! That's capital! Right as rai?i, eh my girl.^ 
Galsworthy, P, jy. See Right, Ch. IV. 



Lively, ''Peart", Agile. 

Note. For the sake of convenience all the sim. with peart 
(pert) have been placed here although many of them with equal 
justice might have been given under the previous head. It is 
often difficult to ascertain its exact meaning. 

As pert as tailours at a wedding. Dekker, Seven Deadly Sins &c. 
II (Lean II, ii). What does this refer to? "In olden time 
the man who made the wedding garments was always supposed 
to see his employer safe through the ceremony, hence the 
best man is still called the tailor." Raine, Torn Sails, 1898, 
EDD. But cf. An affected phantastical carriage, a tailorlike 
spruceness, a peculiar garb in all their proceedings. Burton, 
AM, II, 166. 



— 157 — 

Here pricketh forth this hasty Defender, as peart as a pearemonger. 
Harding, 1565, NED. Pert as a pear-monger I'd be, If Molly 
were but kind. Gay, NS; Lady A^zsio. What! I see 'tis 
raining again. Ld Sparkzs/i. Why, then, madam, we must 
do as they do in Spain. Miss. Pray, my lord, how is that? 
Ld Sparkish. Why, madam, we must let it rain. (Miss 
whispers). Neverout. There's no whispering, but there's lying. 
Miss. Lord! Mr. Neverout! You are as pert as a pearmonger 
this morning. Swift, PC, 254. Lan. Oxf. Bucks. N. & Q., 
I, XI, 114, 232. Thomson, 1856, Lin. EDD. 
As peart as a pearmonger s mare. Ray. — The three insts 
of the first form of the sim. have different applications. In 
Harding it means brisk, active; in Gay, cheerful, glad, and 
in Swift, sharp, clever. Why the pearmonger and his mare 
should be more peart (pert) than other tradesmen and their 
horses, no one seems to know. H. thinks it 'is a mere piece 
of alliteration, without any special significance.' Further in- 
formation required. Cf. 'the miller's horse,' p. 105, 'the cadger 
horse' p. 106. 

As light on his foot as ragman. Antrim Prov. N. & Q., 3, II, 304. 

'As lively as a Red-Shank' is still a proverbial saying. Taylor, 
PP, 49. Red-shank, a contemptuous appellation for Scottish High- 
land clansmen and native Irish, with reference to their naked 
hirsute limbs. Ed. Cf. To run like a Red-shank &c., common 
in Ir. and some border counties. See Swift, Ch. IV. 

As lithe as a lass of Kent. Drayton, Dowsabell, 5 ; Pegge, 
Kenticisms; the sim. is already in Spenser, Shep. Cal. Feb., 
where it is applied to a bullock's dewlap. 

When he was cherry-cheeked, and light in the foot as a girl. 
Hardy, WB, 260. See ibid. HE, 270, TM, 127. 

W'y, John, yo' getten younger instid o' owder — yo' gwun alung 
as limber and as lissom as a lad o nineteen. Shr. EDD. 
Limber, lithe, nimble, fr. 1582. 

As limber and soople as a /a^/' Gall. 1862. '^it^ Healthy, p. 152. 
He's as lish a young 'un i't' spite ov his seventy year. Yks. 
EDD. Lish, lithe, nimble, agile, chiefly northern. 

J. was a Jones, still as brisk as champagne is. An Old London 
Theatr. Alphabet, N. & Q., 5, V, 46. Brisk used of cham- 
pagne already in Butler, 1664, NED. 

As brisk as a cup of wine. Greene, FBB, 203. Cf. A 
cup of wine, that's brisk and fine. Shak., KH IVb, V, iii. 
As sound as old wine. Beaumont & Fletcher, Rule a Wife 
&c.. Lean, II, ii. Brisk, sprightly, lively, fr. the latter haJf 
of the sixteenth c, now chiefly dial., according to NED. 

She is brisk as bottled ale. Gay, NS. Bottle, v., rec. fr. first half 
of seventeenth c. NED. 

As lively as buttermilk — Dashing about in the churn } Lin. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 



- 158 - 

As nimble as niiiepencc. EKvorthy, WSG. 513. — "Silver ninepences 
were common to 1696, when all unmilled coin was called in. 
These n. were very pliable or nimble ..." Ibid. There are 
several sim. with ninepence, and according to NED and EDD 
the allusion is not to the coin, but to the sum of money. 
See Healthy, Hardy p. 152. Beautiful, Fine, Gaudy, Ch. Ill; 
Right, Ch. IV. Cf. also the prov. "A nimble ninepence is better 
than a slow (or dead) shilling", which by a cor. of N. & 
Q., Sept. 185 1, p. 234, was called an old proverb. The 
reference is to rapid circulation and brisk trade. 

As peart as a spoo7i. Wright, RS, 1 1 f. 

As active as a Norfolk tumbler. Dekker, Westw. Ho! A tumbler 
is a dog like a small greyhound, formerly used to catch 
rabbits. "Dogs are no longer trained as 'Norfolk tumblers', 
to attract the rabbits on the warrens by their quaint antics.'' 
1897, NED. Active, agile, nimble, fr. 1597. 

As nijnble as a blind cat in a barn. Smyth, Berkl. MSS, III, 30, 
1639 (Lean, II, ii). One would rather expect zuary than 
nimble. Cf. Wary as a blind horse, p. 115. Ironical? 
Nimble as a cat on a hot bake-stone. Brewer, Diet. 889. Rec. 
in NED fr. 1828. Lan. Yks., EDD. York. 1876, Folk-Lore, 
XLV, 430. "In a great hurry to get away. The bakestone 
in the north is a large stone on which bread and oat-cakcs 
were baked." Brewer ibid. Cf. We'st ha' to look as wakken 
as a cat on a wot back.stone. Lan. EDD. For tuacken, 
see p. 34. 

The ofificial, agile like a wild cat, leaped back. White, BT, 21. 
She was as lish as a cat. Lan. 1869. EDD. For lish, see p. i 57. 
As nhnble as a cat. 'Clarke. (Lean, II, ii). 

As brisk as tunder. Lin. N. & 0. 12, III, 274. Tunder, tinder. 

As nimble as a nag. Ym. of Hypocr. v. 36, 1533 (Lean, II, ii). 
As limber as a cotvt at fifty. Lan. 1886. 

As kipper as a colt. Whitby Gloss. Kipper, nimble, lively, 
n. Cy. EDD. 

Toor and peert, like th' parsons pig is a common proverbial 
saying . . It probably refers to the times when the parson 
collected his tithe in kind. The pig reserved for him, being 
a small one and not overfed, was consequently brisk and 
active. Chs. EDD. Cf 'as mad as a tithe pig.' p. 40. 

Silver, agile as a monkey, even without leg or crutch, was on the 
top of him next moment. Stevenson, TI, 55. 

Mr. M. came running as nimble as a buck. SmoUet, 177 1. NED. 
A fine big strappin' fallah/ As lish an' yal as ony deer. Kcb. 
1890. EDD Yal, yauld, lithe, supple, agile, Sc, n. Cy. Two 
long and lean Clovelly men, active as deer from forest training. 
Kingsley, WH, 380. He [a horse] was superb: tall, broad, 
strong, and yet as graceful and agile as a deer. Doyle, 
AG, 121. 



— 159 — 

As light of foot as an hind. Melbanche, 1583 (Lean. II, ii). 
As nimble as a doe. Porter, Txvo A^igry Worn, 1599, (Lean, 

n, ii). 

As lyth [light] as a ro. Cov. Myst. (Lean). Cf. A footfall light 
as a roe's. Hardy, VV, 326. 

He's as supple as a hare. Ant. 1892, EDD. Cf. "Clever as a 
hare" p. 34. 

I mus' run so shuttle as a rabbit, an' exercise my ho'ses. Som. 1896. 
Yours is a rare pony, nif he idn so shuttle's a raabit. Shuttle^ 
shittle, quick, lithe, active. Som. 

As nimble as a squirrel in a Bell-cage. Head, 1673, NED. 
Bell- cage ? 

As nimbly as a squirrel will crack nuts. B. Jonson, T. of a 
Tub, III, vii, (Lean, II, ii). Cf. They climbed high trees, as 
nimbly as a squirrel. Swift, GT. As nimble as a squirrel. Rog. 
Ez lish ez a squirrel. In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. 

He's yet as soople as a whittrick. McLaren, 1894, EDD. Supple, 
quick, nimble, agile, Sc, n. Cy, Irel., EDD. See Hard-hearted, 
p. 88, Clever, &c. 34. 

Tom was as piert as a gamecock. Kingsley, 1863, NED. Cf. 'as 
fiercely as two game-cocks,' p. 92. Gamecock rec. fr. 1677. 

How is Dolly this morning? O, Shay's as perky as a poll-parrot. 
Lei., EDD. Perky, brisk, lively. 

The risen body . . shall be more nymble . . then is any swallow. 
Fisher, 1509, NED. Cf. Gleger than a swallow bird. Lth. 
EDD. Gleg, brisk, nimble, swift. See also p. 33. 

As brisk as a lark. Rog. Cf. p. 71, and 154. 

In a week or two yer'll be as peert as a cock-robi?i. War. P3DD. 
Her's so peeart's a cock rabin, for all the cheel idn dree weeks 
old. Som. EDD. "One of our every day similes." Elworthy, 
N. & Q., 9, IV, 461. 

Her was hiking za pearts a rabbin thease marning. Dev. Yks. 
EDD. Cf. By Saint Rogue, our Mistres is as light as a 
Robin-rjiddocke. Shelton, 1620, NED. See p. 71, and Bold, 
p. 113. — Peart, which has occurred already in several sim., 
is in general dialect use. "A delightful word, which po- 
sitively sounds: brisk, lively, cheerful, in good health, sharp, 
and intelligent. It has nothing to do with pert either in 
form or meaning." Wright, RS, ii, f. It is used in speaking 
of women and children, and sometimes of birds. Applied to 
temperament and health, and never to dress or manner. 
Elworthy, WSG, 560. 

Dick is as dapper as a cock ivren. Ray. Dapper, little and active. 

As pyert as a bidlspink. Glegg, 1895, Lan. EDD. Bull-spink, Yks. 
Lan., bullfinch, chaffinch, already in Grose. 
Kate was in the house, lively as a fingh, Baring-Gould, RS, 
237. Cf. Brisk as any finch He twittered. Browning, 1878, 
NED. 



— i6o — 

And she was proud and pert as is a pye. Chaucer, Reves T. 
3950 (Lean, II, ii). Yin. of Hypocr. 2533. Well, an heaw 
arto gettin' on, Dan, owd lad? Oh! peeort, lad; peeort as a 
pynot. Lan., 1867, EDO. A reg'lar little dandysprat, an' 
so pert as a jay-pie in June. "Q", Troy Toimi, xi, 1888, 
Cor. EDD. "As pert as a maggot" and "As pert as a jay' 
are common similes. Bdf. EDD. Sec Jackson & Rurne, 59S. 
As perke as a maggot. (West of England) Pulnian, Local, 
Nomeiicl. (Lean, II, ii). As lively as a maggot. Jackson & 
& Burne, 528. 

As pert as a sparrow. Christin. Prince, II, 1607, (Lean, II, ii). 
See Lecher Otis, p. 19. 

Hers as peart as ar' a bird, that's what her is. VVMl. EDD. Sue, 
in her summer clothes, flexible and light as a bird. Hardy, 
JO, 365. Cf. Every elf and fairy sprite, Hop as light as bird 
from briar. Shak., MND, V, ii, 382. 

As nimble as a feather. Lean, II, ii. Cf. Oh the times, when my heels 
have capered over the stage as light as a Finches feather. SC, 4. 
For other insts of the sim. 'light as a feather' see Light, Ch. IV. 

As nimble as an eel in a sand bag. Ray. Cf. Wriggle in and 
out, like an eel in a sand-bag. Middleton, TJie Roari7ig Girl, 
I, i. But Ben Jonson has something quite different, "All 
the Ladies and Gallants lie languishing . . . And (without we 
returne quickly) they are all (as youth would say) no better 
than a few Trovvts cast ashore, or a dish of Eeles in a sand- 
bag." {Cy?ithias Rev. II, v, NED). 
I was as yauld as an eel. Scott, A, ill. 

As wick as an eel. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. "In daily use." 
Folk-Lore, XLIII, 411. 1877. Lin. Wick, quick, lively, in most 
n. Cy dial, and some midl. 

As nimble as an eel. — Cf. To wriggle like an eel. Cf. 
'slippery as an eel', p. 24 f. 

He was lithe and slippery like a fish, and his muscles gave and 
tightened like a steal spring. Mason, PK, 39. 

As gleg as a puddock after a shour. Dmb. Puddock, paddock, a 
toad or frog, now chiefly in Sc. Ir. and n. Cy dial, from 
fourteenth c. See Cold, Ch. IV. 

As pert as a frog upon a washing-block. Ray. Washing-block, or 
stock, is a kind of bench on which clothes were formerly 
laid and beaten with a kind of bat. — It is said of a little 
man on a big horse that 'e looks like a frog on a weshin'- 
stock.' Shr. EDD. What is the meaning of our sim..^^ 

As brisk as a bee in a tar-pot. Cf. As nimble as a bee in a tar- 
barrel. Slang. Ray. Cf. Thou shalt keep him wakii>g with 
thy drum;/ Thy drum, my Dol, thy drum, till he be tame/ 
As the poor blackkbirds were in the great frost,/ Or bees 
are with a basin. Jonson, Alch., Ill, ii, 255 f. As busy as 



— lol 

bees in a basin. Lei. 1834. NED. To be like a fly in a glue 
pot, in a state of nervous excitement. Wright, RS, 161. 'It 
moves like a fly through a gluepot, as the Irishman says.' 
Scot, A, 19. Like a bee in a bottle. Used of a booming 
or humming sound. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 
As wick as bees. Yks. EDD. 

As brisk as bees, if not altogether as light as fairies, did the 
four Pickwickians assemble on the morning. Dickens, PP, II, 
18. The old Woman perk'd up as brisk as a bee. Barham, 
IL, 411. Roget; Norris, Jim, 136. For further insts see W. 

As quiet as as wasp in one's nose. SlaJig. Very much alive. 

My uncle . . bolted through the window as nimble as a grass- 
hopper. SmoUet, 1 77 1, NED. Look at me, fifty-five and 
lively as a grass-hopper. Tracy, Pillar, 207. 
A teaspoonful of that ar, morn and night, and in a week 
}'Ou'll be right again, as pert as a cricket. Stowe, Dred, 1856, 
Thornton. 

Zo lively'' s a cricket. Hewett, Dev. 11. Blakeborough, NRY, 
240, "in daily use." See Merry, p. "j^. 

And home she went as brag as it had ben a bodelouce. GGN, II, 
iii (Dodsley, I, 149). Lusty like a herring, with a bell about 
his neck. Wise as a woodcock: as brag as a bodylouse. 
Marriage of Wit a7id Sciejtce, II, i. (Dodsley, ed. Hazlitt, 

n, 336). 

As brisk as a Body-lowse in a new Pasture. Brome, 1653, 

NED. Gay, NS. Brag, brisk, lively, rec. 1300 — 1610, NED. 

Body-louse, only these insts in NED. 

As crowse as a new zvashen louse. — This is a Scotch and 

northern proverb. Ray. Cf. 'As fresh and as crous/ As a 

new-washed lous.' Clev. Gloss. Grouse, brisk, lively, fr. c. 

1400, NED. As croose as a loose or lop. Yks. 1889. EDD. 

As pert as a louse. Lin., N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 

I's as lish as a biddy. Biddy, louse or flea, in some n. Cy dial. 
As cobby as a lop. York., 1876, Folk-Lore, XLV, 429. Gobby, 

nimble; lop, flea, now dial., fr. 1460. 

As crouse as a lop. Whitby Glos. 1855. 

Nimmel as a lop. Nhb. 1843, EDD. 

The feithor says wi' pride 'the bairn's /^«r^ as lop.' Nhb. Yks. 

Used of a person nimble and active in his movements. Glevel. 

Gloss. 

As zvick as a lop. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. "In daily use." 

Zo dapper s a vlay. Hewett, Dev. 1 1 . 

As nimble as 2. flea. Nhb. 1843, EDD. 
As limber as a willow wand. Whitby Gloss. As lember as a 

willow. N. & Q., 7, V, 57. Limber, lithe and nimble, fr. 

1582, NED. 
With winged feet as nimble as the wind. Spenser, FQ, IV, vii. 

30. Cf. As quick as air. Brome, Epist., xxiv, (Lean, II, ii). 

11 



— l62 — 

Who told me that Hipolito was dead? He that can make any 
man dead, the Doctor. But my Lord, he is as full of life 
as zvildfire, and as quick. Dekker, HWh, la, xii. 



Sick, 111. 

He's as dowly as death. Ill, depressed, so ill, and he looks it. 
Clevel. Gloss. Dowly, in bad health, delicate, sickly, in Grose ; 
n. Cy. 

I am as z7/ as a witch. Very ill. S. Chs. Wright, RS, 211. Cf. p. 8. 

I am as queer as Dick's hatba?id. Grose, 1796, NED. See p. 97 ff. 
Queer, out of sorts, ill, fr. 1800 in NED. 

As sick as a cushion. Ray. Miss . . . I'm sick and hungry, more 
need of a cook than a doctor. Lady Anszver. Poor miss, 
she's as sick as a cushion, she wants nothing but stufifing. 
Swift, PC, 253. No modern inst. seems to be found. There 
are several more or less proverbial phrases in which the 
subst. enters: 'to deserve the cushion, to miss the cushion, 
to kill a man with a cushion, beside the cushion', but none 
of them give any hint as to the origin of our sim. Does it 
refer to the limp and loose character of the cushion, or is it 
elliptical: as sick as (to need) a cushion, as is suggested by 
a cor. of N. & O., 12, III, 116. He goes on to say, "This 
is an idiom which is quite common in ordinary conversation, 
though I have never seen it in a book. For instance, to 
someone who complains of feeling unwell, the question may 
be put: "Are you as ill as bed.?" meaning "Are you as ill 
as (to go to) bed?" Further information required. 

As washed out as a dish-clout. Said of appearance. Lin. N. & O., 
12, III, 276. 

If ... he should chance to be fond, he'd make me as sick as a 
dog. Vanbrugh, 1705, NED. Poor Antony Blog Is as sick 
as a dog. Barham, IL, 225. You'll be as sick as a dog if 
you give way to it. Masefield, CM, 71. Lin. N. & Q., 12. 
Ill, 275. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, "in daily use." 
Zo sick's a 'ound. Hewett, Dev., 12. — The cp. sim. dog-sick 
is rec. already in 1599, Buttes, Dyet's Dry Din., where we 
read, "He that saith, he is Dog-sicke, as sicke as a Dog; 
meaneth a sicke Dog, doubtlesse. NED. The sim. is also 
found in Sw., sjiik soni en hu7id (Ehrenswards Brev, ed. Gun- 
hild Bergh, I, xxiii). The dog figures in numerous sim. chiefly 
of an unfavourable character. 

As waffy, or weak, as a cat. Waffy, weak or suffering from an 
undefinable feeling of malaise. Lin., N. & O., 12, III, 276. 
As sick as a cat. Brewer, Diet. 11 39. 

As sick as cats with eating rats. N. & Q., 4, XI, Dec. 5, '68. 
The cor. of N. & Q. says, "'As sick as a cat'. No phrase more 



- i63 - 

familiar; but . . . the phrase always puzzled me, till I stumbled 
upon it with the addition of a second part [given above]. 
Here the fitness of the illustration comes out, for, however 
senseless it may seem to compare a sick [person] to [the cat], 
that same animal is all but invariably "sick" (in every sense 
of that word), if rashly permitted to eat the rat . . . How 
strange that this second line should have so entirely disap- 
peared from common speech when it has not only reason but 
the more powerful help of rhyme to keep it in remembrance." 
But this scarcely settles the question, for there is in Dutch a 
sim. Zoo siek, niisselijk ah en kat, and in English as well as 
other languages, there are numerous phrases with cat applied 
to a person who is 'sick' in the special sense of this word, 
'to cat (dial.), to jerk, shoot, whip the cat', some of which go 
back to the early seventeenth c, all meaning 'to vomit', especi- 
ally from too much drinking. In a Sw. dial, the saying runs 
'to skin cat' with exactly the same sense. In Dutch, een kater 
hebben (literally, to have a tom-cat) to suffer from the effects 
of over-night drinking, in Germ. Katzenjammer haben, with 
the same meaning, which, nevertheless, originally refers to the 
cat's vailing and catervauling in early spring (see Melancholy 
p. 56), besoffen wie ein Kater ('as drunk as a tom-cat'), zuipen 
als en kater. (drink like a tom-cat), katzendick, very drunk, 
katzendreckig, ('cat-dirty') unwell. (Stoett, NS, I, 394, Wander, 
Muret-Sanders, Rietz). The simplest explanation of most of 
these phrases is perhaps that the cat not unfrequently does 
'cat', i. e. is sick, whether from eating rats or owing to other 
causes. Thus, it is quite possible that the second line of 
the couplet given above does not belong to the original sim. 
at all, but is only a nonce-phrase, invented to explain the 
saying. The sim. is probably much older than our insts. 

I am as sick as a horse, quoth I, already. Sterne, 1765. "A common 
vulgar sim. used when a person is exceedingly sick without 
vomiting." Baker, Northampt. Gloss. 1854. Grose, quoting 
the sim. says, "Horses are said to be extremely sick from being 
unable to relieve themselves by vomiting." But on the other 
hand, "A woman hath nine cats Hues, a woman hath more 
Hues than a horse hath diseases". Sharpham, F., IV, 259. 
For a list of them, see Shak., TS, III, i, and also in Nashe. 

As sick as a chick. Melbancke, PJiil. 1583; Dunton, Ladies' Diet., 
1694, (Lean, II, ii). 

As sick as a rat. Slang. See Hungry, Lean, Drunk, and Poor, 
Ch. IV. 

As wisht as a zvinnard. Cor. "A stock phrase. The redwings reach 
Cornw. late in autumn, and in winter are very thin and miser- 
ably weak." EDD,. See p. 148. 

He was sick to death, and had gone to a lonely place to die. I 
took him in hand, and though he was 2,s venomous 2iS> ^ young 



— 164 — 

snake, ... I got him all right. Doyle, SF, 374. Vc7iomous, 
full of poison, poisoned. 

Sick as a toad. Brewer, Diet. 1143. On the other hand, see p. 155. 
As hardy as a ground toad. 

As sick as a neivt. Lin. 1877. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 410. 

As white as a mawk. Sickly looking. Yks. Lin. EDD. See 
Dead, p. 147. 

I turned as sick as a peet an spewt. Wm. T'trees gang fleeing by 
o' ya side, an' t'wa'as on tudder, an gars yan be as sick as 
a peate. Southey, 1848, Cum. EDD. Cf. A heart as great 
as peat. Ready to burst with sorrow. 

Note. It is remarkable that in all these sim. dealing with 
illness, the adj. ill occurs only once, sick being all but ex- 
clusively used. 



Lame. 

As lavie as St. Giles s Cripplegate. Ray. Bohn reprints, ... St. 
Giles, Cripplegate. Middleton, Father Hnbbiird's Tales, 1604, 
(Lean, II, ii) has, As lame as St. Giles of Cripplegate, and 
Ware, "... as St. Giles Cripplegate'. — St. Giles was the patron 
saint of cripples, and a church dedicated to him was built near 
the gate, in 1090. "Cripplegate was so called before the 
Conquest, from cripples begging of passengers therein." Ray. 
For another etymology, see Wheatley p. 26. "Cripplegate 
must be formed from some personal name, just as its neighbour, 
the modern Aldersgate derived its name from a certain Ealdred". 
W. F. Prideaux, N. & Q., 9, I, i. "This proverb may seem 
guilty of false heraldry, lameness on lameness; and in common 
discourse, is spoken rather merrily than mournfulh', of such 
who, for some slight hurt, lag behind; and sometimes it is 
applied to those who, out of laziness, counterfeit infirmity." 
Ray. According to Ware, it is applied to a badly-told untruth. 
"The church being frequented ... by cripples in great num- 
bers — many of them being fraudulent limpers — the gate 
came to be called Cripplegate [wrong; see above!]; and this 
phrase suggested a lame excuse." Further information required 

As stiff as Barker s knee. — Once upon a time there was a miner 
called Barker, who was foolhardy enough to say that he did 
not believe there were any knockers. In revenge for this insult, 
a crowd of Knockers waylaid him, and pelted him with their 
tools, causing him lifelong injury, whence grew up the proverb. 
Knockers are the sprites that haunt the tinmines of Cornwall. 
Wright, RS, 199. EDD. Application? Still used? 

He's dead foundered, man, as cripple as Eckie^s mear. Scott, Red- 
gauntlet, v. (Narrat.) Cripple, as an adj. dates fr. the thirteenth c. 
Is anything known about this mare? Eckic, Hector. 



- i65 - 

Ez lame ez a three-legged dog. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. "In daily 
use". 'Lame as a dog' is the constantly used expression to 
denote severe lameness, whether in man or beast. Elworthy, 
WSG, 202. Lin. N. & Q. 12, III, 275. 

As lame as a cat. Lin. 1877. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409, EDD. 

Zo lame's a crow. Hewett, Dev. 1 1 . Lame as a crow with the 
gout. CasseTs Mag. of Fid., '14, 223. 

I shall be lame as a tree. Hughes, Toin Brozvn s Schoold. I, vii. 
N. & O., 3, XII, 376. Lin. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. H. 



Clumsy. 

As azokzvard as a barroiv with a square wheel. Lin. N. & Q., 12, 
III, 275. — Does it refer to a person's physical qualities? 

As numb as a besom. — Numb is dull mentally; slow, awkward, 
unready in action, physically. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 

As num as a post. e. An. EDD. Cf. 'as stiff as a post'. 

He's as w^w^ as a hagstock. Yks. 

As foul as t'hagstock. Lan. EDD. — Hagstock, a large wooden 
block on which fire-wood &c. is chopped. Ford, clumsy, in 
Yks. Not. Lin. Cor. EDD. 

As numb as wood. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 

As nimble as a 7iew-gelt dog. Ray. 

As nimble as a cow in a cage. Ray. Cf. Tell me, I pray you, was 
ever Pegasus a cow in a cage. Mercury a mouse in a cheese, 
Dexterity a dog in a doublet? Nashe. For another sim. with 
'cow in a cage' see Unfit, Unsuitable, Ch. IV. 

Dost look as handy wi' that as a pig do wi a musket. Glouc. 
Gloss. 1890. Handy, dexterous, fr. 1662, common in many dial. 

Each of his joints against other justles,/ As handsomely as a bear 
picketh muscles. Heywood, PE, 6^. Handsomely, dexterously, 
rec. 1553 — 1655. NED. 

Till he's as fawl and clumsy as a hippipotamus. Yks. 1866, EDD. 
Clumsy, rec. fr. c. 1600. Cf. the adj. hippopotamic, huge, un- 
wieldy, fr. 1785. 



Hoarse, Breathing hard. 

I have sich a hoast. My throttle's as reazvsty as a bone-house-dur- 
lock. Vaugh, 1874, Lan. EDD. Hoast, Svv. hosta, cough, a Sc. 
and n. Cy word. Reawsty, rusty. Bone-house- dur-lock, charnel- 
house-door-lock. 

He puffeth and bloweth like a short-zvinded hackney. MM, 30. Puff, 
blow, hackney already in ME. 

He's as stuffy as an aidd nag. Wm. Stuffy, unable to breathe 
properly, partially choked. EDD. Stuffy voice. CD. 



— i66 — 

As an Jiorsc he sJiorieth in his sleepe. Chaucer, 1 19/4163. 

Fast asleep behind the arras, a»id snorting Hke a horse. Shak., 

KH IVa, II, iv, 505. 
He sometimes paused, and payited hke a chased deer. Tyndall, 

i860, NED. 
You'll cry yourself as hoarse as a corbie. Scott, A, 208. Corbie, 

raven, chiefly Sc. Ir. and n. Cy. 

As roupy as a raven. Whitby Gloss. Roupy, roupit, hoarse. 

I would croak like a raven; I would bode, I would bode. 

Shak., TC, V, ii, 188. Cf. The hoarse Raven ... By croaking 

from the left presag'd the coming Blow. Dryden, 1697, NED. 

The raven has always been a bird of ill omen. 

Ez hoarse ez a raven. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. "In daily 

use." Bell, WM, 271. 
He was now as hairse and roopit as a crau:. Service, 1887, Ayr. 

EDD. Roopit, see above. Cf. He had a voice like a roupet 

crow. 1897, Edb. EDD. 

Charles Kemble is at present as hoarse as a crow. Mitford, 

1826, NED. He was not only red in the face, but spoke as 

hoarse as a crow. Stevensson, TI, 55. 

He cawed like a craw with a scalded throat. Lin. N. & Q., 

12, III, 276. 
As hoarse as a cuckoo. Chs. Gl. 
She fetches her breath as short as a 7ieiv-tde7i sparrow. Shak., 

TC. Ill, ii, 32. 
Peggy stood stock-still . . . snorting like a stranded grampus. Barham, 

IL, 525. — They hunt in packs and attack whales, and when 

chased sometimes throw themselves ashore to escape their 

persecutors. Enc. Brit. 

To blow like a grampus. To breathe audibly, as one might 

after a violent exertion. Cowan, 1. c. 

To puff like a grampus. — Said e. g. of an old woman who 

runs hard to catch the bus. C. 

Coughing like a grampus. Dickens, 1848, NED. I gasped and 

coughed like a grampus. Shaw, IK, 42. — The 'snuffing 

grampus' is referred to already in Wood, 1634, NED. 
Amos Pently, gasping like a stranded catfish. London, FM, 164. 

Catfish, a North-American freshwater fish, Pimelodus catus. 
Fast asleep and snoring like thunder. Jacobs, MC, 82. See Loud, 

Ch. IV. 



Perspiring. 

Ah sweats like a brock. Clevel. Gloss. 73. He sweats like a brock. 
{Cicada spuineria, which surrounds itself with a white froth 
commonly called cuckoospit) Line. 1877, i885, Folk-Lore, 
LXIII, 411. 



— 167 



Tired. 

As beat as Batty. Dev.; see p. 123. 

"But you look weary." — "Yes, I shall be as limp as a rag for 
a week." Doyle, SF, 284. Weary, at least fr. Maundeville, 
CD. Limp, rec. fr. 1706, and in fig. use fr. the middle of last c. 

We went to bed as tired 2.5 dogs. Hardy, WT, 18. Lin., N. & Q., 
12, III, 275. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, "In daily use." Hewett, 
Dev. 12. NED. Cf. dog-weary, dog-tired. The Germ. Miide 
wie ein Hund, Wander, Heine. 

As tired as a jade. Lean, II, ii. A jade is a wearied or worn-out 
horse. Cf. So maun as an Pedrd (as tired as a horse). Wander. 

He . . . looked as faint as a spent stag. Besant, RMM, 19. Faint, 
feeble through exhaustion, fr. fourteenth c. Spent, tired by 
exertion, fr. 1591. "The hart, Stagg, Hinde, Buck, or Doe, 
is spent." Hexham, 1647. 



Sleeping. 

Smoke the justice, he is as fast as a church. Foote, 1762, NED. 

Jackson & Burne, 594. Lin., N. & Q., 12, III, 275. Fast, fast 

asleep, rec. fr. 1592, is obsolete in st. E. 

"Whether it was so or no, asleep she did fall, sound as a 

church." Dickens. Cf 'as safe as a church.' Ch. IV. 
Down he went, legs and head. Flat on the bed,/ Apparently 

sleeping as sound as the dead. Barham, IL, 234. Byron, 

18 19, NED. 
He . . . slept more soundly than an alderman after a civic feast. 

Oxenham, MS, 71. See Dull, p. 53. 
To sleep as soundly as a constable. Braitwait, Whimsies, 1631, 

Lean, II, ii. Cf. I wil assure you, he can sleep no more Than 

a hooded hawk; a centinel to him. Or one of the City constables 

are tops. Fletcher & Massinger, 1616, NED. 
How can you say all this, when you were sound as a trooper. Sc. 

1 89 1, EDD. Sound, elipt. for sound asleep. 
''Sound as a watchman , [he] hears nothing. Maxwell, 1884, NED. 

See above, and three lines further down. 
Stukeley slept like an infant. Masefield, CM. 220. Cf. Sleep she 

as sound as careless infancy. Shak., MW, V, v. 
Twere was a watchman, who always turned in and slept like a 

graven image. Twain, TS, 125. Cf. Graven and molten images. 

Pusey, i860, and Graven images, Ex. 20, 4. 
[He] fell as soon s a peerie in less than a meenont. Ayr. 1887, 

EDD. Soon, sound; peerie, peg-top. 



— i68 — 

Sleep like a humming-top you will, if you come. Jacobs, MC, 145. 
In two minutes I was as fastzs a top. Mrs. Sheridan, 1763, NED. 
I trow I took a nap, ... As soimd as a tap. Ramsaj', 171 1. 
Cld. EDD. Sleeping as sound as a top. Hardy, Lao. 334. 
To sleep like a top. Beaumont & Fletcher, Tico Noble Kinsm. 
(Lean, 11, ii.) Cf. the above quoted passage in Fletcher & 
Massinger. — Should he seem to rouse, 'tis but well lashing 
him, and he will sleep like a top. Congreeve, 1693; Gay, 
NS; Gent. Mag. 1793, (NED); Byron, 1819 (NED); N. & Q. 
Some people, not knowing more than the most common 
form of this sim., found themselves unable to understand it, 
and casting about for an explanation hit upon the French 
donnir comme line tatipe (sleep like a mole) and the It. donnire 
come un topo. (sleep like a rat). As a matter of fact, we have 
in Fr. exactly the same sim. as in E. donnir comme une 
totipie (a spinning top), or more common dormir comme un 
sabot, (an ignorant translator has been known to render 7ious 
dormirons comme deux sabots, we shall sleep like two wooden 
shoes! N. & Q., July, 1852, p. 51). Cf. also il ronfle comme 
un sabot, ime toupie, he snores like a top. Prof. Malvoisin, 
Paris, N. & Q., 3, XII, 345. Consequently we do not owe the 
sim. to any misunderstood foreign ivord but to an idea common 
to English and French. A top is said to sleep when it moves 
with such velocity, and spins so smoothly, that its motion is 
unperceptible. Baker, North. Gloss., 1854; and cf. It is the case 
of a common spinning-top, . . . not sleeping upright, nor 
nodding. Thomson & Tait, 1879. It's [a perfect life's] quiet is 
that of a sleeping top, — the ease of an intense well-balanced 
activity. Tyrrel, 1909, NED. See Hardy, UGT, 68. 

To sleep as sound as a horn. Cai. EDD. In what way can sleep 
be applied to a horn.r' See Fond, 44. 

As sleepy as 2. giU d cat. Wilson, Cheats, I, iii, 1663, Lean, II, ii. See 
Melancholy, p. 55; Sick, p. 162. Cf. Do not awake the sleeping cat. 
Woodrouphe, 1623, NED. Cf. Er scJddft wie eine Katze. Wander. 

He . . . slept like a dog. Oxenham, MS, 90. Cf. the Sc. proverbs 
'to sleep like a dog in a mill, to sleep as dogs do when wives 
sift meal'. Hislop, Prov. of Scotland (Lean, II, ii). Dogs will 
sleep when the women are sifting. Wood, Ma7ix P., 253. Do 
they sleep at all in such cases? "A dog's sleep" is otherwise 
never considered to be a very profound one. 

To sleep like a stickhig pig. Chapman (Lean, II, ii, where.''). To 
sleep like a pig. Northall, FPh, 30. Don't take too much grog! 
And don't fall aslepp, if you should, like a Jiog. Barham, IL, 
237. Cf. the Chaucerian 'sleep as a sivyn\ LawT. 647, and 
Shak. 'in swinish sleep Their drenched natures lie as in a 
death.' Mb, I, vii, Gj . When you where in bed you lay snoring 
and snorting like a swine as you are. Vinegar & Mu., 9. — 
To sleep as snug as pigs in pea-straw. Heywood, WK, 69. 



— 169 — 

He slept as sound as a sebem-sleeper. Som. EDD. The sebeui-sleepery 
seven-sleeper, is the dormouse, an animal that has been looked 
upon as a very heavy sleeper indeed at least fr. Skelton, who 
says, Dormiat in pace, like a dormouse. (1528, NED). Cf. And 
striue the dormowses themselves in sleeping to excell. Googe, 
1570, NED. Them that sleep, like so many dormice. Burton, 
AM, I, 287. Players lay asleep like Dormouses. Hall, 1646, 
NED. The subst. has been used fig. for a sleepy person fr. 
1568, NED. See Dull, p. 52. Cf. Germ. Schlafen ivie Maulwilrf 
iind Ratten (= Siebenschldfer). Zu schlafen ivie eine Ratze, Fr. 
dorinir comine un loir. 

As sleepy as a bat. Lin., N. & O. 12, III, 275. Cf. Blind p. 171. 

Zo sleepy ez an owl. Hewett, Dev. 13. That must be the day-time owl. 

Sleepy as an October wasp. H. 

I slept like a log of wood. Stevenson, TI, 74. I must have dozed 
a good deal from the first, and then slept like a log. ibid. 31. 
Cf. also T am in the most magnificent health and spirit, eating 
like a bull, sleeping like a tree', ibid. 30. Cf. Germ. Er schldft 
ivie ein Stock. Wander. Sw. Sova som en stock, which in 
Wenstrom-Harlock is rendered 'sleep like a log'. 

Sleeping as sound as a rock. Hardy, LLI, 251. 

Note. She's as fast asleep as if she were in Bedfordshire. 
Scott, Heart of Midi.., XXX. This is a very old joke of the 
mild kind in which our ancestors indulged. Tm going to the 
land of Nod. — Faith, I'm for Bedfordshire.' Swift, PC, 301. 
Each one departs for Bedfordshire, and pillows all securely 
snort on. 1665, Slang. Sheet Alley and Blanket Fair are 
localities in the same imaginary county. The following is a 
good inst. of the same sort of pun. He that fetches a wife 
from Shrewsbury, must carry her into Staffordshire, or else 
he shall live in Cumberland. Cf. also "Little Witham" p. 46. 



Sharp-sighted, Awake. 

His een lookit at me as sharp laek as preens. Sh. I., 1892, EDD. 
See Beautiful &c., Ch. III. Cf. His eyes had lost none of their 
keenness, they bored like bradawls. Baring-Gould, RS, 13. 
Bradawl, a very small tool, used for boring, rec. fr. 1823. 

Eyes as sharp as a lyfix. BuUein, Bulw. of Def., 1562, Lean, II, ii. 
Cf The boys, who are quick-sighted as lynxes. SmoUet, 1755, 
NED. Half of the Prussian Force lie, vigilant as lynxes, blockading 
here. Carlyle, 1865, NED. A best that men Lynx calles, 
That may se thurgh thik stane walles. Hampole, 1340, NED. 
Cf. I can see as far into a millstone as another man. H. 

A was as wakrife as a bakbearaway i't' gloaming. Atkinson, 1891, 
Yks, EDD. Wakrife, wakeful, Sc. Ir. n. Cy. Backbearaway^ 
or back, a very old name for the bat. 



— I/O — 

He slepte namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale. Chaucer, 3/98 C. 

His eye, As bright as is the eagle's, lightens forth ControlUng 
majesty. Shak., KR III, iii, 68. The keen vision of the eagle 
is proverbial. Cf. Can I make my eye an eagle? Browning, 
1878, NED, and, [his eye] keen as that of a bird of prey. 
Hardy, RN, 10. Cf. Eager, p. 122, aud Miserly, 128. 

His een were as sharp as an houlafs. Snowden, 1896, Yks, 
EDD. I've served you faithfully as a dog", said r\Irs Veale. 
"Faithful as a dog", she repeated; "watched for you, wakeful 
as an owl." Baring-Gould, RS, 303. I will take a nap by 
day, and be lively as an owl by night. Ibid, 159. Cf. 'as 
sleepy as an owl' p. 169. 

These eyes that now are dimm'd with death's black vail, Have 
been as piercing as the midday sim. Shak,, KH VIc, V, ii, 16. 



Blind. 

{Dai blustred as blynde as bayard watz euer. E. E. A. P., c. 1325. 
I am Bernardus, non vidit omnia, as blind as bUnd Bayard, 
and have the eyes of a beetle; nothing from them is obscure. 
Nashe, III, 220. Who is so blind as bold Bayard. Breton, 
1609. As blind yet as bold as Bayard. 1625, NED. Cf. 
Bayard must ever be as bold as blind. Fairfax, 1674, NED. 
See Bold. p. 112. 

As blind as ignorance. Beaumont & Fletcher, Lover s Progr., Ill, 
iii, (Lean, II, ii). 

The old scholar ... is as blind as a brickbat. Dickens, Dav. Cop. 
Slang. A facetious simile for very blind, ibid. Cf 'Blind as a 
bat' below. 

If I hadn't been as blind as a day-old pup. Yoxall, RS, 26. Piip, 
fr. 1589. 

F"or all your sharp tongue you are as blind as a three-day kitten. 
Marchmont, CF, 22. 

Blinde as a modewart. Bruce, 1589, NED. Blind of eye like a 
grey mowdiewarp. Gall. 1895. As blind as a modeywarp. 
Not. Cf. The marmisset the mowdewart couth leid, Becaus 
that nature had denyit hir sicht. Henryson, 1470, NED. 
They may well holde vs as Battes and Moulwattes that cannot 
see. Broughton, 1604, NED. 

As blind as a ivant. Withals, 1586 (Lean, II, ii). 
As blind as a mole. Ray. This form of the sim. is rec. in 
NED 1563 — 1 713. It is also used in a transferred sense: In 
heavenly things you are more blind than Moals. Sylvester, 
1598, NED. To judge fr. the insts. it must be obs. except 
in dial. — This erroneous idea of the mole's blindness is 
very old. Already in Gr. TVCjoAorepo:; do.TdXaxoc, and talpa 



— 171 — 

caecior is a Latin sim. used by Erasmus. Dutch, Zoo blmd 
als ee7i mol. Germ. Blind ah ein Maulwurf (obs.), Stoett, 
NS, I, 88. 

As blirid as a bat at noon. Clarke. Ez blind ez a bat i' daayleet. 
Blakeborough, NRY. 

As blind as a bat. Ray. VV. Hewett, Dev. lo; Hope, PZ, 62; 
Lyall, DV, 95; Hardy, LLI, 131. The bishop was blinder 
than a bat without [his spectacles]. Caine, D, vi. — "A bat 
is not blind, but when it enters a room well lighted it cannot 
see, and blunders about. It sees best, Uke a cat, in the dusk. 
Brewer, Diet. 146. The following is then perhaps the most 
scientific form of the sim.: Men of meditative faces, lined 
foreheads, and weak-eyed as bats with constant research. 
Hardy, JO, 95. — The sim. is not rec. in NED, but there 
are the cpp bat-blind, bat-eyed, bat-minded(ness), none of 
them earlier than the beginning of the seventeenth c. The 
simplex is rec. fr. c. 1575. — It may be of some interest to 
add that, according to Sloet, Dieren, yj, popular belief main- 
tained that the eye of a bat could make those who wore one, 
invisible. 

As blind as an owl at noonday. Clarke. "Nay, madame, I were 
blind to think that. Blind as a noontide owl," said Amos. 
Doyle, R, "jG. See p. 169. 

Blind as an owl. Brewer, 146. What is said about the bat 
also applies to the owl. Cf Our subtle Schoolmen . . are 
obscure, defective in these mysteries, and all our quickest 
wits, as an owl's eyes at the sun's ligt, wax dull. Burton, 
AM, I, 205. Rab lookit as bleart as a houlit. When tryin' 
to glour at the sun. Rnf., 1861, EDD. 

As bleynde as a betylle. 1420, NED (s. v. blind). Udall, 1584; 
We cease not to bee bruite beasts, as blinde as betles. 
Tomson, 1579, NED. In earthly things we have Lynces 
eyes; but in spirituell things we are blind as beetles. Barkley 
1598, NED. Knolles, Hist, of the Turks, 1603. Wright, 
Displ. of Duty, 16 14, (Lean, II, ii); Burroghs, On Hosea, 
1652; Ray; Baker, 1757, NED. No modern lit. insts have 
been found, but cf. No, Larry, I am not a shot, and like a 
beetle at night. Baring-Gould, RS, 123. It occurs in some 
dial., Som. and Nhb., where it is said to be very common. EDD. 
Now, what is this beetle? NED affirms that it is the 
insect so called. EDD, on the other hand, thinks that it is 
the wooden implement, a heavy mallet. There have been 
some rather dogmatical discussions about it in N. & Q., (see 
'deaf as a beetle') with a good deal of speculation on the 
character of these two things. But the only safe plan is to 
start from the sim. itself and its context. The above insts 
show us that our word could be coupled with the name of 
other animals. Cf. also 'bats, buzzards, and beetles' (see 



— 172 — 

below), 'another conipareth a Bytell with an Egle' (Bell, 1581, 
NED), and, the most interesting of all, 'Thou nor no flie is 
so beetle-blinde.' Hey wood, 1556, NED, which may be 
rendered: 'You are the blindest being imaginable, consequently 
you ought to be taken as the type of blindness, and not a 
fly (as we do in beetle-blind).' In these expressions the insect 
must be alluded to. It is further worth noticing that, except 
'as blind as ignorance,' 'as blind as a brickbat,' and 'as blind 
as a stone' all the other sim. take some animal to illustrate 
a high degree of blindness. This makes it almost certain 
that in this case also an animal is referred to, and Ray, who 
is the first to explain the sim., says expressly, "A beetle is 
thought to be blind, because in the evening it will fly with 
its full force against a man's face, or anything else which 
happens to be in its way; which other insects, as bees, hor- 
nets, &c. will not do." Cf. also the following sim. 
As blind as a buzzm-d. Draxe, 1633, (Lean, II, ii); Grose, 1790, 
EDD. The cp buzzard-blind is rec. fr. 16 19, and the term 
blind buzzard is already in ME, the earliest insts in NED 
being these: I rede eche blynde bosarde do bote to hymselue. 
Langland, PPl. b. X, 266. Rut of other thou blundyrst as 
a blynde buserde. 1401, Pol. Poems, ii, 98 (ed. Wright). 
Blind buzzard Sir John. c. 1550, Bradford, Wks, ii, 43 (ed 
Parker Soc.) as a contemptuous title for a priest. According 
to NED this buzzard is the bird of that name, an inferior 
kind of hawk, Btiteo vulgaris, whose dullness and stupidity 
made it useless for falconry. Cf. Those blind bussardes, who 
. . would neyther learn themselues, nor could tech others. 
Ascham, 1571, NED, and the proverb 'to make a falcon of 
a buzzard.' And in Germ. Aus einem Bussard macht man 
keinen Sperber. (Wander). Consequently blind is used fig. 
or, as Skeat asserts, means dull of sight. But on the other 
hand, Swainson, BB, 133, is of opinion that the sim. and the 
terms mentioned do not refer to the bird, "which is extremely 
quick-sighted, but rather to the beetle, from the buzzing sounds 
of its flights." According to EDD it is a moth or butterfly. 
Different kinds of beetles are called buzzard-clocks, or buzzard- 
bats, -battles or -beetles (EDD). Nares says that "all night- 
moths and beetles were thus called [buzzards] familiarly in 
his childhood." Swainson, 1. c. This would take us back 
to the end of the eighteenth c. But the great difficulty about 
this idea is that no earlier undoubted inst. of this sense of 
the word has been found. The oldest quot. in NED dates 
only fr. 1825. As a possible reference the following question 
is cited: — O owle! hast thou only kept company with bats, 
buzzards, and beetles in this long retirement in the desert? 
Gayton, 1654, and in Shak., TS, II, 209 there is perhaps an 
allusion to this sense of the word. The passage in Gayton 



— 173 — 

gives excellent sense if buzzard is rendered cockcJiafer or vioth, 
which suits the context better, it seems, than if it is given 
the other sense. But to be perfectly sure we must have 
unquestionable insts some 200 years older than that. But 
although it is very tempting to regard our sim. as only 
another form of the preceeding one, we must admit that 
blind buzzard is used, or may be used, of the bird. Further 
information required. 

As blind as a bee. The Smyth and his Da. [H., Engl. Pop. 
Poetry, iii, 209]; Nashe. The bee is not now looked upon 
as blind, whatever may have been the case formerly. 
As blind as a stone. Chaucer, MaT; Ro. of R. 



Deaf. 

Deaf as a trunk-maker. Roget. Cf. Trunk-makerlike, i. e. more 
noise than work. Slang. Does the noise make him deaf? 

I'm as blynt as a mowdiwart and as deaf as a bmnbaily. Lan. 
1884, EDD. Bumbaily, the bumbailiff, who probably had to 
be deaf, professionally, to all sorts of prayers and entreaties. 

As deaf as a door. Breton, 1606, NED. Still dialectally, NED. 
Cf. Dumb, p. 177. In the sim. itself as it stands here, there 
is nothing that speaks against the supposition the door means 
dor(r), an appellation for various insects, such as bumblebees, 
hornets, and several kinds of beetles. See below 'as deaf as 
a beetle', and the term dorr-head for a stupid or blundering 
fellow. (1577, NED). But the following sim. make the sense 
unquestionably clear. Cf. door-deaf, Edb, 181 1, EDD. 

Deaf as a door-nail. Cotgrave, 161 1, as a rendering of the Fr. 
Sourd comme un tapis. Urquhart, 1693, NED. Yks. Folk- 
Lore, XLV, 429. It is possible that the passage in Alexander, 
4747, Dom as a dore-nayle & defe was he bathe, (1400 — 50) 
contains an allusion to this sim. — See p. 177, and note the 
expression door-nail deafness. Rnf. 18 13. EDD. 
She was deaf as a nail — that you cannot hammer/ A 
meaning into for all your clamour. Hood, 1845, NED. 

Deaf as a door-post. Formerly and still dialectally. NED. Door- 
post, rec. fr. 1535. No other inst. of the sim. found. Cf. Ye 
deafe dore postis, coulde ye not heare.?' Crowley, I55i» NED. 

Mr. Hilton was deaf as a bed-post. Mason, PK, iii. Bed-post 
rec. in NED fr. 1598. It is hard to see in what way a bed- 
post is deafer than any other post. There has been some 
discussion about the word in connection with the saying 'in 
the twinkling (twinkle) of a bed-post, bed-staff.' 

As deaf as a post. Sheridan, SS, I, i. Scott, A, 15. She was 
as deaf as a post . . And as deaf as twenty similes more, 



— 174 — 

Including the adder, the deafest of snakes. Hood, 1845. 
"Then you are most immensly and outrigeously deaf,'' said 
Mr. Mantalini, — "as deaf as a demnition post.'' Dickens, NN,, 
xxxiv. He might have been as "deeve" as a post. 1858, 
Thornton. Northall, FPh, 8. Blakeborough, NRY, 239 "common." 
Hewett, Dev. 11, Roget. Slang. &c. This sim. rec. in NED 
fr. 1845, is probably much older than Sheridan, as allusions 
to the unimpressiveness and the insensibility of the post are 
found already in ME: in such phrases as 'to talk, or preach 
to a post', to talk to deaf ears. Sla7tg. And see Shak., AYL, 
IV, i. Why, 'tis good to be said and to say nothing. — 
Why, then, 'tis good to be a post. 

As deaf as a block. Ruckland, 1875, NED. Cf. Block, and block- 
head as types of "blockishly'' ignorant and stupidly dull 
persons into whose heads nothing ever enters, rec. fr. the 
middle of the sixteenth c. Cf. You blocks, you stones, you 
worse than senseless things. Shak., JC, I, i, 40. Dov soni en stock 
in Sw. means exactly the same thing. Cf. Sleeping, p. 169. 

As deaf as a zuhite cat. — It is said that white cats are deaf and 
stupid. Brewer, Diet. 336. 

As dombe and deaf as a doted doo. Chest. Plays, II, 41. (Lean, 
II, ii). Doted, stupid, foolish. This makes it probable that 
the doo in question is not the doe, but the dove, which 
already then may have been used as a term for a simpleton. 
In late ME the words were often spelt in the same way and 
are not unfrequently mixed up. Witness NED, where the 
same passage is used to illustrate both words. — It is interesting 
to find that in other languages birds are taken as types of 
deafness. There is the Lat. phrase surdior turdo, more deaf 
than a thrush. In Dutch 'zoo doof als een kwartel^ a quail, 
see Wellfed, Fat, p. 184. Fris. 'so dof as in ekster,' a magpie; 
'sa dof as iri snip\ a snipe. Stoett, NS, I, 15S. The author 
finds it difficult to explain these sim. The circumstance that 
the quail is usually too frightened to rise if a person ap- 
proaches, he thinks, may have occasioned the sim. Cf. I stood 
as .stylle as dased quaile. E. E. Allit. Poems, 13 . ., NED, 
and the Chaucerian, Thou shalt make him couche as doth 
a quaille. See Still, Ch. IV. 

Pleasure and revenge/ Have ears more deaf than adders to the 
voice/ Of any true decision. Shak., TC, II, ii, 172. I am as 
deaf as an adder. Dryden, A, VI, 108. Ye are deaf as 
adders upon that side of the head. Scott, W, xxxvi. To 
all entreaties . . Ralph was deaf as an adder. Dickens, NN, 
xlvii. Hood, 1845. — The deaf adder is met wMth over 
and over again in lit., folk-rhyme, and popular belief. Some 
insts may be given. What! Art thou like the adder waxen 
deaf? Shak., KH VIb, III, ii, 76. God speaks once or 
twice . ., but man hears like the adder with a deaf ear. 



— 175 — 

Rogers, Naaman, [642, Lean. You are like the adder that 
stops her ears, and will hear nothing at all. Vinegar & Mu., 
13. See also O. E. Homilies 2nd Ser., EETS, 1873, pp. 
196, 198, and, Als of a neddre def alsswa f)at stoppand es 
his eres twa. c. 1 300. NED. This is a reference to Ps. 58, 
4 f., they are Uke the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which 
will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so 
wisely. On this passage one of the old commentators says, 
Serpens senex absurdescit una aiire; alteram vera pulvere aut 
terra obdurat ne audiat incantationern. Aspis autem utramque 
obdtirat, alteram in terrain dejigendo, alteram extrema sua 
parte contingendo atque ocdudendo. (N. & Q., 7, II, 317). 
According to Wood, Biblical Animals, p. 549, it was a wide- 
spread popular belief in the Orient that some individual 
serpents were very obstinate and self-willed. (N. & Q., 7, II, 
152). As snakes have no external ears the biblical saying is 
a zoological absurdity. The only tenable explanation is that 
the moral monsters, so graphically described by the psalmist, 
are comparable to such an exception 'as a deaf adder' &c. 
Hastings, Dictioyiary of the Bible, s. v. serpent. Nevertheless it 
was generally believed in literally far down into the seventeenth 
c. The idea of the adder's deafness is perhaps still living. 
"Amongst various familiar country beliefs lasting even to the 
present day is the one summed up in the well-known expres- 
sion 'deaf as an adder'." Hulme, NH, 303. "Look under 
the deaf adder's belly, and you'll find marked, in mottled 
colours, these words: 'If I could hear as well as see, No 
man of life should master me.' " N. & Q., Febr. 1853, 153. 
"If I could hear as well as see. Nor man nor beast should 
pass by me," is said to be a Kentish form of the same folk- 
rhyme. For still another form see Northall, FR, 281. That 
deafness could be cured by adder's fat, is only what we can 
expect from the good old homoeopathists who followed the 
principle of curing a dog's bite with "a hair of the dog 
that bit you." — The sim. is also found in Germ. So tatd? 
wie eine Otter. Cf. also Bist du zvie die Natter taub gewordeji ? 
(Wander; MS). 

Th'art so deeve as a haddick in chongy weather. Exmore Scolding, 
6. Hewett, Dev. 11. Cor. "The regular superlative absolute 
is always 'so deef's a 'addick', though why a haddock should 
be deafer than other fish . . seems quite inscrutable to any 
but the bucolic mind." Elworthy, WSG, 187. 

Now there is the shad, I believe, they have no ears, for they 
don't mind noises a bit; and when a feller is hard a-hearin', 
we say he is as deaf as a s/iad. Sam Slick's W. Saivs, p. 79, 
(Cowan, PS, 33). But others think otherwise: "Aelian again 
tells us, that the chad is allured by the sound of the castanets. 
Rennie, 1833, NED. See Thin, Lean, p. 189. 



- 1-6 - 

As deaf as a beetle. Rog. Lean II, ii; Kent, EDD. That there 
horse is as deaf as a beetle. Sur. EDD. N. & O., 3, XL 
passim. — Most of the correspondents seemed to be perfectly 
sure that this beetle is the mallet. But no conclusive evidence 
is given. A writer says, it is true, of the insect that "if speedy 
flight on the approach of a footstep be a sign of hearing, they 
possess that sense acutely". But that does not matter. We 
cannot expect zoological accurac}' in these sim. more than to 
a very limited extent, and numerous mistakes in that respect 
have already been chronicled. The mole is not blind, neither 
is the white cat deaf, and the adder's deafness is a good inst. 
of a zoologically absurd tradition that lasted for more than 
three centuries. The insect of which Tucker says as follows, 
"The beetle, whose characteristic is stupidity and unwieldine.ss 
of limbs, beats himself down against a tree, or overturns 
himself in crawling, and lies sprawling upon his back" (1765, 
NED), may very well be regarded as a type not only of 
stupidity and blindness but also generally of insensibility and 
unimpressiveness. Just as a haddock is a symbol of what is 
stupid (p. 52), melancholy (p. 58) and deaf, the beetle may 
be looked upon as being blind, stupid, and dull of hearing, 
and no more is wanted to make it the symbol of extreme 
deafness. 

But it must in fairness be added that all this can be 
applied, with about equal justice, to the mallet. The insts known 
to the compiler offer no sufficient ground on which one could 
found any opinion. The fig. uses of the words have coin- 
cided to such an extent that it is often extremely difficult to 
say which of them is meant. In beetle-eyed NED sees the 
insect, but in beetle-brain the implement. What is alluded to 
in 'A blockhead, yea a numskull, not to say a beetle' (Tucker, 
1765)? Most unprejudiced persons would perhaps think that 
it is the same word as in beetle-brain, but NED wants it to 
be the insect. Cf. Didl, p. 53, and the Shakespearean "There 
is no more conceit in him than in a mallet." KH IVb, II, 
iv, and the sim. 'as sad (i. e. dull) as anv mallet' in Milton, 
Colast (NED). 

As to our sim. EDD is positive that it refers to the 
implement, NED thinks it probable. As no actual facts are 
known we are reduced to speculation. The insts known make it 
probable that the sim. is used chiefly in dial. Now, which of the 
two words is more likely to have made an impression upon the 
rustic mind? It is true that the names of some 15 insects 
occur in the sim. already given, but on the whole they play 
an unimportant part in English phrase-making. Implements 
and tools have far more commonly occasioned sim. and pro- 
verbs. It is worthy of note that the name of the insect is 
scarcely mentioned in EDD, (but c{. buzzard-beetle) whilst 



— 177 — 

about a column is given to the other word. The dull thuds 
of the ponderous machine frequently heard about the country- 
side must have made it a familiar object to every one, and 
has perhaps given rise to more sayings than those collected in 
our dictionaries. And just as the post is dull, and deaf, and 
dumb, this heavy wooden thing is also dull, and deaf, and 
dumb. 

As deaf as nuts. Herrick, Epit. on M. Ursley, ante 1648, Lean 
II, ii. Cf. Whoever hath not observed this is nut-deaf and 
sand-blind, 1836, Not. 

As deaf as a stone. Occleve, Reg. Princ, ante 1450; Herrick, ii, 
25, 1648, Lean, II, ii. 

High-stomach'd are they both, and full of ire, In rage as deaf as 
the sea, hasty as fire. Shak., KR II, I, i, 18. 



Dumb, Mute. 

Note. For some closely allied sim. see Secretive p. 129, and 

Silence Ch. IV. 
Downbe as deth. Langland, PPl. b, X, 137. See Silence, Ch. IV. 
As imite as Mumchance, who was hanged for saying nothing. 

Swift, PC. The poor creature sat as silent as mum-chance. 

Mackenzie, 1786, NED. Cf. To sit like 'Mum-chance', who 

was hung for saying nowt. Hutton, 178 1, Yks. EDD. — 

Mumchance , originally a masked serenade or dumb show, 

hence a person who acts in a dumb show, quasi-proper name. 

NED. [A] stupidly silent [person], silence. EDD. 
Old Lord Mumble, who is as toothless as a three-months-old baby, 

and as mum as an undertaker. Thackeray, BS, xix. Cf. p. 55. 
Why don't you say something occasionally when it's needed, 

instead of sitting dumb as a sphinx and getting into all sorts 

of trouble. White, BT. 371. 
Be thou eke as meivet as a mayde. Gascoigne, 1571, NED. See 

Modest, Bashful, p. 6'j . Mute, rec. fr. 1374. 
As domnbe as a dore. Langland, PPl, a, XI, 94. See Deaf, p. 173. 

Domme as a dore gon he dwell, c. 1440. NED. 
Dom as a dore-nayle & defe was he bathe. The Wars of Alexander, 

4747, LETS. See Deaf, p. 173. Rog. 
Damme, sir, if he wasn't 2,^ mute 2,?, z. poker. Dickens, 1844, NED. 

See Grave, Stiff. 59. 
As mum as a post. e. Ang. EDD. Cf. Deaf, p. 173 f. 
As mute as a statue. Middleton, Changel., iii, 3. 1653, Lean, II, 

ii. Cf. statua taciturnius, Horace, Ep. II, ii. See Still, Motion- 
less, Ch. IV. 
"Sam, be quiet," said Mr. Pickwick. ''Dumb as a drum vith a 

hole in it, sir." replied Sam. Dickens, PP, I, 360. Cf. Dumb 

as a drum. Benham. Meaning? 

12 



- I7S - 

As dianb as a dog. Beaumont & Fletcher, Woman Pleased, III, 
ii. Lean, II, ii. A well-known Swedish work of art represents 
a boy kneeling on the ground looking up into the face of a 
big dog, and saying, "Can't you speak?" 

All the time the scheming, deceitful young missy sat by, as Diuni 
as a cat in a pantry. Yoxall, RS, 27. Cf. Getting people 
and things all shipshape and comfortable, and making no 
more sound than a cat. Twain, HF, 234. 

Miss Marian Marsh, a rosy-cheeked laughter-loving imp of some 
six years; but one who could be as viute as a mouse when 
the fit was on her. Barham, IL, 91; Dickens, Cop. 53 (W); 
Northall, FPh. 9; mentioned in NED but no inst. given. 
As mum as a mouse, Thackeray, Pend. I, 341 (W). What's 
wrang wi' thi, thoo sits as mum as a moose. Lakel. EDD. 
I can tell you fine though they be mum as a mouse. 1899, 
Per. EDD. Phillpotts, SW. In NED, but no inst. given. 

He sat mum as an owl after a night at the mice. Edb. 1897. EDD. 

You'm dumb as a netvt, and 'tis uncomfortable work talking to 
you. Phillpotts, WP", 16. 

Fell upon the floor as mute as a flounder. Smollet, RR. 456. 
See Flat, Ch. III. Said of a man who was dead-drunk. 

We are as mute as mackarel for exactly seven minute and a half. 
18 19, NED. You can be secret as well as serviceable.^ — 
Mute as a mackerel. Foote, 1760, NED. Cf. Dead p. 146. 

A whole family dinnb as oysters. Foote. 1770, NED. The fellows who 
ca7i talk haven't anything to say, and those who have some- 
thing to tell are dumb as oysters. White, BT, 337. See 
Secretive p. 130. 

As dumb as z. fish. B. Jonson, Staple of News, III, ii, 1631. 

As 7nute as a fish. Clarke, 1639, Lean, II, ii. Two Lane. 
Lovers, 1640, (Cowan, PS, 35); [a lawyer] must be feed still, 
or else he is as mute as a fish. Burton, AM, I, 93. Gataker; 
1654, NED; My man was as mute as a fish, for I remember 
not that he proposed so much as one question to me. Howell, 
State Trials, 1656, Cowan, 1. c. Thou art both as drunk 
and as mute as a fish. Congreve, 1700, NED; Gay, NS; 
The Nabob's friends . . had stood all this while as mute as 
fishes. Johnston, 1781, NED; 1807, NliD; Marryat, 1840; 
Thackeray, BL, xvii. — Cf. Magis mutus quam piscis ; plus 
muet quun poisson; Germ, stumm wie ein FiscJi, already in 
the sixteenth c; Wander. Sw. stum som en fisk. 

And she for sorwe as doumbe stant as a tree. Chaucer, 163/1055, 

J)ai wex doumbe as stane. Cursor Mtmdi, 1340, NED. 

Also domb as any stone. Chaucer, HP"", II, 148. Styl as an 
ymage of tree. Dome as a stoon. ibid. RR, 2408. 
They be as Muet as a stone, Lydgate, 1407, NED. A tunge 
I haue, but vvordys none, But stonde mut as any stone, c. 



— 179 — 

1440. NED. — Cf. As senceless as a stone. 1629, Wks. 
p. 944, Lean, II, ii. Astonied, both stand senceless as a 
blocke. Spenser, FQ, I, ii, 16. 



Bald. 

I am shave as nye as any frere. Chaucer, Conipl. to his Empty 
Purse, 19. The shaven monks and priests are frequently 
referred to in early MnE. Heywood speaks of pylde preest', 
and Becon, 1553, of 'y® pilde-pate Priest'; sometimes also in 
modern authors; 'black baldicoots' is Kingsley's name for 
monks with shaven crowns. 

His head was as bald as the palm of your lia?id. Barham, IL, 
155. See Bare, Ch. III. 

As bald as a blether d same. Lin. N. & O., 12, III, 274. Blether, 
bladder; same, saim, lard, fat. 

As bald as a billiard ball. Lean, II, ii. 

To look as bald as a blackfaced wedder. Lean, II, ii. Wedder, 
dial, for wether, which word is rec. at least fr. Chaucer, CD, 

Round was his face, and camois was his nose. As pyled as an 
ape was his skulle. Chaucer, RT, 3935. Miller of Trumpington, 
Wright's Anect. Lit., p. 24 (Lean, II, ii). As pilled as an 
ape was his crown. Hyeway to the Spital House, H, Engl. 
Pop. Poetry, iv, 28; Withals, 1616 (Lean, II, ii). See Bare, 
Ch. III. 

And yet he was as balde as is a coote. Lydgate, 1430. The 
body ... is made as bare as Job, and as bald as a coot. 
Tindale, 1536, NED. I have an old grim sire to my husband, 
as bald as a coot. Burton, AM, III, 307. Ray. Lei. 'a common 
sim.' Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 274. 

They poled him as ba7'e as a coot, by shaving off his Hair. 
1687, NED. 

"In North Wilts and the Gloucestershire border and probably 
also in Northamptonshire the word balsh is used to express 
absence of feathers, and from that it is applied to a completely 
bald head, e. g. 'as balsh as a young coot', or, as might be 
said with equal force, as a young blackbird ... I have some- 
times thought that balsh is merely a contracted pronunciation 
of baldish, though it has come to be used in an intensive 
sense." N. & Q., 5, X, 97. No word balsh is found in any 
glossary of the counties in question or elsewhere. "The coot 
has also the name Bald coot and Bald duck from the white 
bare spot above the bird's bill." Swainson, BB, 178. Cf. Bare, 
Ch. Ill, Mad, p. 42, Stupid, p. 52, Pierce, 93. 



— i8o — 



Hungry, Eating. 

To feed like a freeJiolder of Macclesfield, who has neither corn nor 
hay at Michaelmas. Fuller, 1662, Wort]iies, (Lean, II, ii), Ray. 
— No information seems to be obtainable about these persons. 
In Brayley & Britton, TJie Beauties of England and Wales 
Vol. II, we find mentioned a set of doubtful characters called 
Flashmen, who lived about M. From being chapmen or pedlars 
of rather hawklike business principles they took to farming, 
but as their farms were held by no leases they were left at 
the mercy of the lords of the soil, who made them pay for 
their impositions on others. As they were no "freeholders" 
they can scarcely be referred to in the sim. Otherwise M. 
is chiefly known for its button-making, and seems to have 
been, as far as records tell us, a quiet, peaceful, and industrious 
place. "When this came to be a proverb, it should seem the 
inhabitants were poorer, and worse husbandmen than they now 
are." Ray. What did the sim. really refer to.^ 

To /><?^ like ^ fyecJiolder. Ray. Meaning. f* 

To feed like a fanner. Taylor, PP, 6. Ray. Madam, your ladyship 
eats nothing. — Lord, Madam, 1 have fed like a farmer; I 
shall grow as fat as a porpoise; I swear my jaws are weary 
of chawing. Swift, PC, 288. Feed, to eat, of persons, is now 
only colloquial. NED. 

I eat like a farmer. Smollet, 1771, NED. The baron ate like 
a famished soldier, the laird of B. like a sportsman, Bullsegg 
of K. like a farmer, Waverly himself like a traveller, and 
Bailie Macwheeble like all four. Scott, W, xi. 

How well you came to supper to us last night!. . . . ask these 
gallants if we staid not till we were as Jningry as Serjeants. 
Dekker, HWh, la, ix. — This military sense of sergeant fr. 
1548. 

William Lamb laughs and eats like a trooper. Lady Granville, 18 12, 
NED. 
I am as hungry as a trooper. Harraden, I., 341. Cf. Swearing, log. 

As hungry as a tired foot post. Rowley, WitcJi of Edin., 1658, 
(Lean, II, ii). 

Though hee bee as hungry as a hunter. Trapp, 1650, NED. Hewett, 
Dev. 1 1 ; Yks. Northall, FPh, 9. I am as a hungry as a hunter, 
whatever you may be. Gissing, FC, 33. Caine, EC, 93. Cf. 
// est affame comme un chasseur. Wander. Wander has also 
Er ist so hungrig wie ein Scheundrescher, (thresher, see Busy, 
121), eetn as7t Smid (eat like a smith). See Wander, Drescher. 

He felt as empty as a drum. Oxenham, MS, 91. Empty, hungry, 
rec. fr. 1593, now only col. See Empty, Ch. III. 

As hungry as a graven image. Bartlctt. See Sleeping, p. 167. 

Ez greedy ez a rake. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, "in daily use." 



— i8i — 

Does this refer to an avaricious person or a "greedy-gut"? 
'To rake and scrape', to appropriate all one can get hold of. 

I was ravenotis as a hoiirid. De Foe, 1724, NED. This sense of 
ravenous fr. 17 19. 

As huitgry as a foxhound. Lean, II, ii. 

As hungry as a tired hound. Christmas Prince, 1607, Lean, 
II, ii. Cf. the fig. use in Sc. of hound for a greedy, avaricious 
person. 

As greedy as a dog. Clarke, 1639 (Lean, II, ii). 
As hmgry as a dog. Brewer; Lin. N. & Q. 12, III, 275. 
Blakeborough, NRY, 242, "in daily use." Cf. Dick's got a 
digestion like a dog. Phillpotts, P. 23. Cf. To have a stomach 
like a dog. Withals, 1616 (Lean, II, ii). 

As hungry as a horse. Clarke, 1639 (Lean, II, ii), Ray. 
He eats like a horse. 1707, NED. 

As greedy as a hog. Rog. 

As greedy as a pig. Lean, II, ii. Cf. He feeds like a boar in 
a frank. H. Like boars in a franck, pining themselves into 
lard. Sanderson, 1621, NED. Frank, a place to feed boars in. 
Crabb, 1823, NED. Hazlitt's sim. must be pretty old as the 
word frank is obs. now. 

As greedy as a tvolf. Rog. Cf. As greedy after their prey as a 
wolf. Hutchinson, 1767, NED. I don't believe he ever had an 
appetite except for pounds, shillings, and pence, and with 
them he's as greedy as a wolf. Dickens, NN, xlvii. The greedy 
ivolfis found already in the Blick. Horn., Jaa fynd heora gripende 
wseron swa swa graedi§ wulf. CNED). 

As ravenous as a wolf. Rog. Cf. They be like so many horse- 
leches, hungry, griping, corrupt, covetous, avaritiae mancipia, 
ravenous as wolves (princes or great men). Burton, AM, I, 90. 
The black wolves, in their ravenous hunger, took no notice 
of the distant group of horsemen. Irving, 1835, NED. 
As hungry as a wolf. Palsgrave, Acol. E., 1540 (Lean, II, ii); 
Ray; Brewer. — Since time immemorial the wolf has been the 
instance of a voracious eater, as is witnessed by numerous 
phrases and proverbial expressions in English and other 
languages: He got away from his women-folk into a corner 
all by himself, and went for the strawberries and cream like 
a wolf. Phillpotts, P, 294. To wolf means in some dial, to 
eat ravenously and the person to whom this can be applied 
is a wolver or has a wolf in his stomach. Fr. manger comme 
un loup, avoir un faim de loup ; Germ. Er hunger t tvie ein 
Wolf in den Zwolfen (Dec. 25 — ^Jan. 6), Wander; Wolfshu7iger, 
ivolfsmagen ; Sw. hungrig som en varg, glupsk som en varg &c. 

I am as hungry as a churchmouse. Ray. Er ist hwigrig wie eine 
Kirchefimaus, Wander, 1840. See Poor, Ch. IV. 

I am as hungry as a bear. Shaw, IK, 267. 

As greedy as a cormorant. Ymage of Hyp., 1164, 1528, (Lean, 



— l82 — 

II, ii). There are numerous references to the voracity of this 
sea-bird. The hot cormeraunt of glottonj^e. Chaucer, Pari, of 
Follies, 362. The CaUis cormorants from Dover roade/ Are not 
so chargeable as you to food. 16 10, NED. Also often in a 
transferred sense. He is an insatiable cormorant, or rather horn- 
vorant, a bottomless Barathrum, a mercilesse money-monger. 
MM, 27. Men that would haue all in their owne hands . . . 
Cormerauntes, gred^^e guiles; yea, men that would eat vp 
menne, women and children . . . Crowley, 1550. A modern 
inst. in Oxenham, MS, 70. 

About June and July, should there be a drought of long duration, 
rooks suffer terribly; hence the proverb, 'As //7^;?^/'_j/ as a June 
croiv . Swainson, KB. 

I am as hungry as a glad. Scott, W, xlii. — The greedy rapacity 
of the glede is mentioned already in ME times. It is still a 
symbol of a very hearty appetite. Greedy gled is an appellation 
for the kite, but also fig. the name of a voracious feeder. 
There are also the phrases 'to gape with greed like a gled', 
'a pack of young gleeads' of children whose appetites attest 
their health. EDD. 

As greedy as a gull, and as rank as a bull. Skelton, 1528, NED; 
Armin, Tico Maids of M., 1609 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. the hungry 
sea-gulls . . . clamorous for the morning banquet. Longfellow, 
1855, NED. 

As hungry as a hawk. Taylor (WP), 1652, Christm. In and out 
(Lean, II, ii); Ray; Walton, CA, 130; Stevenson, TI, 27. 
W has some further insts fr. Stevenson, Bulwer, and Ruffini; 
Ant. EDD; Brewer, Diet. 637. 

Keen as a kite. Perhaps also used in this sense. See p. 125. 

As ravenous as a shark. Cowan, PS, 46. Its voraciousness is often 
alluded to, chiefly in a fig. use. "There are the new verbs 
I'ooke (plunder) and sJiarke (prey). Thomas More, 1 590, Slang. 

A'm as holler as a humlock, said by one to another, when he is 
hungry. Tyneside. N. & Q., 12, III, 277. 



Fat, Well-feeding. 

As fat as a farmer. Kingsley, Water Bab., W. See Hungry, p. 180. 

As fat as a fool. Appius and Virginia (Dodsley, XII, 348), see p. 
112, where the whole passage is quoted; Ray; As fat as a 
fiile. Hewett, Dev. Cf. the term fool-fat (feeding), 1593, 1613, 
NED. Does this refer to the easy comfortable life of the ancient 
court-jester.^ 

He looked as plump as a pijicushion. Mrs Carlyle, 1875, NED. 
Cf. A little short, round, pincushiony woman. Stowe, 1852, 
NED. Pincushion rec, fr. 1632. 



- i83 - 

We went where we had boiled beef and bake mutton, Whereof 

I fed me as fitll as a hin. Heywood, PE, 45. Cf. 'a tun of 

a man' used of Falstafif. 
As big as one end of a house. Said of anyone very stout. Oxf. 

EDD. Big, stout, strong, rec. 1300 — 1600. See Big, Large, 

Ch. III. 
As slender as a milne-post. Clarke (Lean II, ii). Mill-post, the post 

on which wind-mills were formerly often supported. Often in 

similitative phrases as a type of something thick and massive, 

especially of legs. NED. The word is still used in Lin. EDD. 
Could I but see a cook's shop painted, I would make mine eyes 

fat as butter. Lyly, AC, I, ii, (Dodsley, 1825). A gross fat 

man — As fat as butter. Shak., KH IVa, II, iv, 488; [mice 

are] found sleeping under the snow in the dead of winter, as 

fat as butter. Burton, AM, II, 114. Ray; Gay, NS; Rog.; Mrs. 

Purton has had twins; dear little fellows they are, fat as butter. 

Jacobs, MC, 63. 
Phnnp as a dumpling. Rog. Cf He lookt like a Norfolk dumpling, 

thicke and short. Armin, 1608, NED. A person 'as broad as 

long' has been called a dumpling fr. 1617. The subst. is rec. 

fr. 1600. Cf. The Captain's name was Hercules Dumlin, a 

Norfolk gentleman. Taylor, NL, 21. See Bare, Ch. III. Cf. 

Round as a dumpling, see Round, Ch. III. 
As round and as plump as a codling. J. Cleveland, Poems, 1667, 

(Lean, II, ii). Codling, a kind of apple, the word known fr. 

1440. 

The stout little Friar, as round as an apple. Barham, IL, 442. 

Rou7td, plump, stout, corpulent, fr. c. 1300. See Round, Ch. III. 
As plump as the cherry. Herrick, 1648 (Lean, II, ii). See Red., 

Ch. III. 
As plump and juicy as a damso7i. Ned Ward, Nupt. Dial., II, 

xi, (Lean, II, ii). Damson, a kind of plum first brought fr. 

Damascus, Primus cofnmunis damascena. 
As plump as grapes after a shower. Killigrew, Thom., i, 4I, 1664 

(Lean, II, ii). What are the last three sim. applied to.^ 
As plump as a peach. Dickens, Great Exp., II, 309, W. 
As fat as braivn. Davies, Sc. of Folly, 16 14 (Lean, II, ii). Rog. 

This seems to go back to Coverdale, Ps. 118, 70, Their herte 

is as fat as brawn. Geneva and Auth. and Rev. Vers, read 

grease. Other editions differently. 
Very large like calves . . . and 3iS fat 2iS porks. Collins, 1682, NED. 
As fat as bacon. Rog. 

As fat as a bacon-hog. Suf. EDD. As fat as a hog. Conte7ition 

betiv. Liberality and Pj^odig., V, i, 1602 (Lean, II, ii). He will 

grow not only to be very large, but as fat as a hog [the 

bream]. Walton, CA, 202. 

As fat as a bacon pig at Martlemas. Denham. An old Germ. 

proverbial sim. said 'so reich wie ein Sautreiber an Martini' 



— i84 — 

(as rich as a sow-driver at Martlemas). At this season pasture 
is usually over, and the killing and curing begins. 
As fat as a pig. Rog. Bacon and pigs have probably been 
taken as types of fatness from time immemorial. Cf. Mara ic 
eom and fasttra J)onne amaested swin, c. looo, NED. See 
Huyigry, Eating, p. i8i. 

As stalled as a dog. Lin. There is in Cum. a saying 'plenty of 
butter wad sto [stall] a dog', i. e. satiate, surfeit. 

As fat as an ox. Nashe. 

As slender in the middle as a cow in the waste. Ray. A sim. used 
of a very stout person. Lei. EDD. 

Plump as a barndoor chicke^i. Wolcott, 17S3, NED. 

As fat as a barndoor fowl. Congreve, Old Bachel., IV, viii 
(Lean, II, II). I. e. reared at the barndoor. 

Cram's with prayse, and make's As fat as tajne things. Shak., 
WT, I, ii. 

As trig as a mouse. — Used of anyone who has overeaten himself. 
Lin. N. & Q. 12, III, 275. Trig, full, stuffed to the utmost, in 
some n. Cy and w. Cy dial. For another word trig see Beauti- 
ful, Fine. Ch. III. 

As fat as a modiivarp. Not. EDD. 

Zo plims a ivant. Hewett, Dev. 12. See Blind, p. 170, and 
Smooth, Ch. III. In Germ, the badger plays the same part, 
'so fett tcie ein Dachs . Wander. 

As fat and plump as a plover. Nashe, 1 594. Which of the plovers 
this is, may be left to ornithologists. The golden plover was 
believed to live on air. Opinions may differ as to whether 
that could make it very fat. See Swainson, BB, 180, 182. 

All as a partridge plump, full-fed and fair. Pope, D., II, 41. Ray; 
Gay, NS; A fine, jolly dame, as plump as a partridge. SmoUet, 
RR, 364. Hewett, Dev. 12. Plump as any partridge was each 
Miss Mould. Dickens, 1844, NED. Already Chaucer speaks of 
the 'fat partrich', Prol. 349. 

As fat as a quail. Rog. See Deaf p. 174 and Still, Ch. IV. 

I have twenty lambs . . . ^s plump 2iS puffins. Sheridan, 1736, NED. 
He is diSfat as a puffin. Wood, Manx Prov., Folk-Lore, XXXIV, 
238. Cf. The pufifyn . . . whose young ones . . . being exceeding 
fat. Carew, 1602, NED. 

Ffat as a whale, and walking as a swan. Chaucer, 391/1930. Sic 
fartingail lis on flaggis als fatt as quhailis. Dunbar, 1520, NED. 
(flag, an opprobrious term applied to a woman; Sc. obs. 
NED). Zo fat's a whale. Hewett, Dev. 11. 

As fat as a mereswine. Jamieson. 'As a vast quantity of fat 
surrounds the body of this animal, it has given occasion to 
the proverbial allusion'. Mereswine now obs. NED. 

What kind of creature is he.? — You must know, the man and 
his wife are coupled like rabbits, a fat and a lean; he is as 
fat as a porpus, and she's one of Pharao's lean kine. Swift, 



- 185 - 

PC, 294. As fat as a porpoise. Hardy, UGT, 55. A very fat 

man is in Lin. called a parpoise. 
As fat as a Kentish oyster. Greene, Tu Qtioque, 16 14, (Lean, II, 

ii). See Secretive, 130. 
An' when it had feenished it was jist as fotis a ividk [a dragon 

that had eaten its fill]. Bell, WM, 157. Wulk, wilk, see p. 130. 
As fat as a mazvk. Lakel. Yks. EDD. See Stupid, p. 52, Sick, p. 164. 

So fat as a maggot he is, and so happy as a coney. Phillpotts, 

VVF, 451. 
As full as a tick; having eaten one's fill; said of an animal, whether 

man or beast. Som. Dev. EDD. Cf. A waterleche or a tyke 

haue nevere ynow tyl it brestyth. 1440, NED. Ftdl, having 

eaten and drunk to repletion, now arch, or vulgar, NED. 
As fat as mud. N. & Q. 12, III, 275. Does it apply to a fat 
person ? 



Thin, Lean. 

But now will canker-sorrow eat my bud/ And chase the native 
beauty from his check/ And he will look as holloiv as a ghosti 
And dim and meagre as an ague's fit. Shak., KJ, III, iv, 84. 

As thin as changelings are. Seven D. Sins of London (Lean, II, 
ii.). The fairies have been represented as famous for stealing 
the most beautiful and witty children, and leaving in their 
places such as were either prodigiously ugly and stupid or 
mischievously inclined. EDD. 

As lean as a cradda. Cum. EDD. Cradda, a lean person or animal, 
in Cum. Lan. Wm.l. This is perhaps the Gaelic craidneach^ 
a skeleton, a gaunt figure. See Macbain, Etymolog. Gaelic Diet. 

He's thin as a natamus. Cor. Natamus is one of the many forms 
into which anatomy has been changed. Anatomy, skeleton 
with the skin left, fr. 1586. Cf. More like an anatomy than 
a living person. Southey, 1824, NED. Poor J. is reduced to 
a natomy. Nfld. Similar phrases common in many parts of the 
country. 

As thin as a notomize. Whitby Glos. 

Poourz u raeumz. El worthy, WSG; thin as a skeleton. The 
word raymes &c. chiefly in sw. counties. Cf. Germ. Er ist so 
mager tvie ein Todtengerippe, He is so mager as en Rifft. 
Wander. Poor, thin, lean, fr. 1537. 

As thiyi a z.s groat. Gay, NS. She's as thin as a groat. Yks. 1890. EDD. 
As poor as a groat. Yks. EDD. 

As thi?i as a Banbury cheese. Heywood, PE. Cf. More fine than 
any Banbury cheese. G. Harvey, Letter Book, 1573, (Lean). 
Put off your clothes, and you are like a Banbery cheese, 
Nothing but paring. 1601, NED. For Banbury and things 



— i86 — 

connected with it, see Stupid, p. 47, and Dnink 199. Bardolph 
in Shak, MW, calls Slender, 'You Banbury cheese', I, i, 115. 

As thin as a wafer. Christm. Prince, I, 1607 (Lean, II, ii). Thy 
lips, with age, as any wafer thin. Drayton, 1593, CD. Wafer 
rec. at least fr. Chaucer and Langland. 

As thin as Jialf penny ale, 2d a quarter. Northall, FPh. Application? 

Zo thins a griddle. Hewett, Dev. Griddle, gridiron, already in Grose. 

Ez fat ez a tailor s goose. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. The tailor's 
iron. The term is known fr. c. 1600. 

You look 'bout as fat as a stall-fed knitting needle. White, BT, 179. 

He was as tJiin and spare, too, z.s, pair of tongs. ]a.vc\es, 1845, NED. 
Tongs a term for a tall lanky person. Slang. 

Slejtder as a thread. Rog. See Thin, Ch. III. 

The phrase 'lene as a la?iternc occurs in an alliterative poem on 
the destruction of Jerusalem, MS Laud. 656, fol. 16 b. Cf. 
'loked as a lantern al hus lyf after.' Langland, PPl, IX, 174. 
(Skeat's Notes). Cf. the modern lantern-jawed, and 'a pair o' 
cheek like lantern-leeghts', thin even to transparency. Yks. EDD. 

As tJiin as a farthing rusJilight. Northall, FPh. Rushlight fr. 17 10. 

She's as t]ii7i as threadpaper. Thackeray, BS, xxxiii. A withered 
wiry creature thin as a threadpaper. Phillpotts, WF, 281. She's 
wasted to a threadpaper. Ibid. 435. Threadpaper x^c. fr. 1761, 
and fr. 1824 it is used of a person of slender or thin figure. 
I was tall for my age but sligthly built, and so thin as often 
to provoke the application of such epithets as hop-pole, 
'thread-paper' &c. 1850, Slang. The threadpaper Duchess of 
Kendal, poor old anatomy. Carlyle, 1862. I was a threadpaper 
of a boy myself. Huxle3^ 1881. 

As fat as a match with the bi im stone off. Northall, FPh. 8. 

As tJiin as a match. Wenstrom-Harlock. Cf. matches as a term 
for a tall and lanky person. Slang. 

Ez slim ez a barber s poivl. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, "in daily 
use". Barber's pole mentioned since 1684. Slim, slender and 
gracefully thin, fr. 1657. 

They shall live on hard labour un spoon-meyt, whod they ged as 
fat as rakesteyls. Lan, 1895, EDD. Their bigge.st bwoy . . . 
was as lang and as lane as a rake-stael. Wil. EDD. Rake- 
steyl, the handle of a rake. 

As poor as a rake. Yks. EDD. 

Zo thins a rake. Hewett, Dev. 12; Suf. EDD. "Not an un- 
frequent sim. with us". 

Lene was his horse as is a rake. Chaucer, Prol. 287. His bones 
crake lene as a rake. Skelton, 1529, NED. I wex as lene as 
any rake. Songs, 120; His body leane and meagre as a rake/ 
And skin all withered like a dryed rooke; Thereto as cold and 
drery as a snake. Spenser, ¥Q, II, xi, 22. Cotgrave, 161 1, 
NED; Withals, 1616; Browne, Brit. Past., 16 16, Wesley, 
Maggots, 1685 (Lean, II, ii); Ray; Ail these sorts of birds 



- i87 - 

grow in an instant as fat as hogs, tho' they came as lean 
as rakes. Motteux, 1694, NED; Gay, NS; Rog.; Yks, 1883; 
He was a big man though as lean as a rake. Masefield, 
Multitude, 124. 

J am almost as t]un as a lath. Foote, 1763, Slang. Brewer, Diet. 
1220; Rog. As thin as a lat. Cum. Glos. 

She hath plainly starved herself, and now she is as lean as a 
lath. Heywood, WKK, 89. Northall, FPh, 9. Cf. the term 
lath-legs, Slang. Cf. Zoo vet als een lat. Stoett, NS, II, 3. 

Making an indenture twixt God & my soule, to consume my bodie 
as slender as a stilt or broome- staff e. Nashe, III, 134, 1596. 
Broomstaff x&c. in NED fr. 161 3. 

As fat as a country tvhipping post. Bailey, 1756 (Lean, II, ii). 

I assure that, for many weeks afterwards, I was as thin as a 
whipping-post. Kingston, TJie Three Admirals, vi; I shall grow 
as thin as a whipping-post, ibid., xi; Brewer, Diet., 1220. 

She was wax lene as a tre. 14 . . . NED. Tree, staff, stick. This 
survives in Sc. Various other senses of tree in the dial, may 
fit the context about equally well. — Cf. ful longe were his 
legges and ful lene, Ylyk a staf, ther was no calf ysene. 
Chaucer, 17/591. If I were saw'de into quantities I should make 
four dozen of such bearded Hermites staues, as Master Shallow. 
Shak., KH Via, V, i, 71. — Some of the above sim. have 
equivalents in Germ. Er ist so mager wie ein Zaunstecken 
(lath), mager wie e Bohnestang, Hoppe-stang (bean-stick, hop- 
pole); Er ist so mager wie ein Kienstock. (The trunk of a 
felled fir-tree). 

A poor draggle-tailed, heart-broken wisp of a woman, and flat as 
a board she she was. Phillpotts. WF, 162. The same sim. also 
in Polish: The man was as thin as a board. Benecke, PA, 104. 
// est inaigre eomme ime planche. Er ist so mager wie eine 
Schindel (wooden tile). Wander. 

Poor as wood. Line. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 409. Them beas o' 
Butterwick Haale's all as poor as wood. Der. EDD. Cf. Er is 
so mager as 11 Stiick Holt. Wander. Zoo mager als en hout. 
Stoett, NS, II, 3. 

As small [in the waist] as a zvand. Wager, Repentance of Mary 
Magd., 1566 (Lean, II, ii); My sister ... is as white as a 
lily, and as small as a wand. Shak., TGV, II, iii, 23. Cf. Kate, 
like the hazel-twig,/ Is straight and slender. Shak., TS, II, i. 
For nearly related sim. see Straight, and Tall, Ch. III. Cf. the 
Dutch Zoo mager als een steksken (lean as a slip). 

Slender as an ash. Overheard in Oxford. Said to be tolerably 
common. 

Too much work and too little meat, made him as gaunt as a 
greyhound. Taylor, WV, 5. Too much hard over rid and under 
meated/ That he as gaunt as any greyhound was. ibid. SL, 
2. Ray; Gaunt as a grewnt, Lan. 1750, ibid. 1873. What, 



— i88 — 

Harry, my boy!" my lord said good-naturedly, "you look as 
gaunt as a greyhound. The small-pox hasn't improved your 
beauty. Thackeray, HE, 91, ibid. VF. "The dog that is for 
the folde must neither be so gaunt nor swift as the Grayhounde, 
nor so fatte nor heavy as the masty. Googe, 1577, NED. 
Colonel Cramley (who is as lean as a greyhound and has 
jaws like a jack). Thackeray, BS, xliv. 

As lean as a dog iyt lent. Clarke, 1639 (Lean, II, ii). Lent as the 
time of fasting is naturally connected with leanness. There is 
also in Shirley, Const. Maid, II, ii, the sim. As lean as Lent 
(1640). Cf. also He is half-starved in the lent of a long vacation. 
Fuller, 1642, NED. Cf. the Dutch hondemager, zoo viager ah ecn 
hond. Stoetr, NS, II, 3. 

Fair was this younge wyf, and ther-withal/ As any zvesele hir body 
gent and smal. Chaucer, MiT. 

As lean as a whitterick. Line. Glos. See Lively, "Peart", p. i 59. 
and cf. Ill-tempered p. 102, Hard-hearted, 88, Clever, p. 34. 

While an Austin friar was jolly and fat/ A monk of la Trappe is 
as thin as a rat. Barham, IL, 161. The churchmouse may be 
hungry and poor also in this sense of the word, but as to 
rats opinions seem to differ. Bale, 1583, NED, says, 'The 
monkes were fatte/ And as ranke as a rat.' Rank, too grossly fat, 
highly fed, obs. since 163 1. See Drunk, p. 208 and Wet, Ch. IV. 

She begins to grow fat. — Fat! Ay, fat as a lien in the forehead. 
Swift, PC, 297. Already in Ray. Cf. Germ. So mager zvie eine 
Zinshenne. (Lean as a tithing hen); cf. Lively, "■Pearf\ p. 158, on 
the tithing-pig. 

As poor as Job' s turkey., that had to lean against a fence to gobble. 
As poor as Job's turkey, that had but one feather in his tail. 
As poor as Job's turkey. Uneda. N. «& Q, Feb. 1853, 181. 
As Job was exceedingly poor everything that belonged to him, 
or once had belonged to him, must be so too. Why in this 
particularly American sim. the turkey is chosen from among 
the rest, appears from the following lines. "At some seasons 
of the year, from their excessive wanderings and the scarcity 
of food, turkeys, in a wild state, become exceedingly thin. 
This circumstance has given rise to a proverb in the Indian 
language. An Omahow, who wishes to make known his poverty, 
says . . . which means 'I am as poor as a turkey in summer.'" 
The Eggs of British Birds, p. 7, N. & Q., 5, XII, 175. 
See Proud, 83, and Red, Ch. Ill, Poor, Ch. IV. 

But there he is — so thin as a nezvcome snipe. Phillpotts, WF, 8. 
A snipe, a thin thing, male or female. In Amer. a small child, 
"in a Candlemas blast" is sometimes added. N. & Q, 12, III, 275. 

Poor as a craw. Very thin. Lin. 1877. Folk-Lore, LXIII. "A crow 
is the apparent climax of leanness. 'Poor's a crow' is the 
regular simile, though 'poor's a rames' is sometimes heard. 
'Poor's a rake' is a phrase used by 'genie vokes' very often, 



— i89 — 

but not by the working class." Elworthy, WSG, 587. Used 
also of an animal (horse?). He couldn't eat, an' as poor as a 
crow, soa missis had him shutten. Der. EDD. 

As thin as the last run of shad. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). Cf. He was 
kind o' mournful and thin and shad-bellied. Mrs. Stowe, 1 87 1, 
NED. Shad-b., having an abnormally thin and flat belly. See 
Deaf, p. 175. 

As thin as a shotten-shad. Amer. Cowan, PS, 140. Shot, 
shotten is applied to a fish that has shot or cast its spawn; 
rec. fr. 145 1. 

As thin as a shotten- herri7ig. Cowan, PS, 140. Cf. Upbraid me with 
your benefits, you pilchers,/ You shotten-soul'd, slight fellows. 
Fletcher, 16 14, Slang. His conceit [was] as lank as a shotten 
herring. Harvey, 1593, NED. Shotten (herring) applied to an 
exhausted, thin, or emaciated person fr. 1596. If thou wert 
half starved like a shotten herring. Gay, Wife of Z?., Ill, i, 
(Lean, II, ii). 

Poor as a herring. The usual description of any very lean 
animal. Elworthy, WSGr, 23. 

A creature like you, so thin as a herring and as cold as a 
frog rising up to such fierce heat. Phillpotts, WF, 344. A very 
small, dapper man, thin as a herring. Doyle, R, 60. Cowan, 
PS, 37; mentioned in NED, but no inst. given. — Although 
no early insts have been found, the sim. is probably pretty 
old. Germ. Er ist niagerer als ein Hering. Er ist so niager 
zvie ein Pokling (pickled herring); Fr. Elle est maigre comme 
un harang saiir. Wander. 

As narrozv as a drink of water. Nhb. EDD. Of an excessively 
thin person. 

As thin as a rasher of wind. Common Lond. Ware, A. rasher of 
wind is a term for a thin person and also for anything of 
little or no account. Slang. 

I shall be leaner than the new moon., unless I can make him horn- 
mad. Dekker, HWh, la, ii. Cf. Er ist fett wie der Mond im 
ersten Viertel. Wander. 



Thirsty. 

Weer'n'ee got the bottle, lads? fur I'm dry as a ragman s prentice. 
Shr. EDD. Dry, thirsty, now only in vulgar use, rec. fr. 1406, 
NED. It is the word in nearly all the following sim. See also 
Dry, Ch. IV. — The ragman is some sort of old clothes man. 
The term known fr. 1586. 

My mouth is as dry as a limeburner s mouth. 1842, NED. 

My mouth is as dry as a limeburner s wig. Lover, 1842, NED. 
I's as dry as a turd-bed — or as a limeburner s clog. Cum. EDD. 



— 1 90 — 

Have a glass of beer? asked Thorpe. — Dry as a tobacco box, 

confessed Hines. White, BT, i8o. 
I've pegged along ever since, dry as z. pozvder-liorn. Twain, HF, 278. 
Ez thdsty ez a sponge. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. Spo?ige, an 

immoderate drinker, a soaker, is already in Shak. Cf. Er hat 

eincn Schzvamm ini Magen. Hij hceft eene spons in zijne keel. 

(a sponge in his stomach, throat) Wander. Sw. Dricka som 

en svamp. 
As dry as a whustle. Ant. 1892, NED. The sim. with whistle are 

very puzzling; see Clean, Ch. IV. 
I am as dry as a whetstone. Yks. EDD. Cf. Dull, p. 53. 
It's damn hot. I am dry like a stove. London, SS, 266. 
That infernal swanky has left me as dry as a limekiln. Hume 

Nisbet, 1892, Slang. His throat was dry like a kiln. Masefield, 

CM, 291. 
He wished he might be basted if he warn't as dry as a limebasket. 

Dickens, 1838, Slarig. I used to eat a lot of salt fish afore 

going, and then by time I got there I was as dry as a 

limebasket. Hardy, FMC, 68. 
A's as dry as "a, fish; a cud al'es be drinking amost. Yks.; Cowan, 

PS, 139. Cf. Drinking, p. 212. 
Walkin's made me as dry as a kex. Yks. Der. EDD; Hardy, T, 139; 

My throat's as dry as a kex. Hardy, W, 455; Lin. EDD. See 

Dry, Ch. IV. 
I shud like a drap o' drink, fur I feels as dry as a puck fyst. 

SE. Wore. Gl. EDD. Puckfeist, fist, the devil's snuffbox, 

Lycoperdon B ovist a. 
I'm as dry as dust along of such a walk. Phillpotts, WF, 106. See 

Dry, Ch. IV. 
Our throats are dry as a desert. Cassel's Mag of Fie. '14, 209. 

For other insts of the sim. see Dry, Ch. IV. 



Sober. 

The Spaniard was as abstentious as any nio7ik, and drank little but 
water. Kingsley, WH, 184. Abstemious in this .sense fr. 1624. 

Derriman is as sober as a judge. Hardy, TM, 78. ibid. LLI, 258. 
Never fear, I am as sober as a judge now. Shaw, IK, 280. 
Kcb. Yks. EDD. "'Drunk as a lord' and 'sober as a judge' 
have ceased to have any recognisable application to the 
nobility and the Judicial Bench. Judges, in these later days, 
are as a sober as other folk ... no more and no less, and 
the same applies to the Peerage. D. Telegr. May 27, 1888 
(Ware). 

Can seem as sober as a Millers Mare, /And cannot blush at any 
villany. 1606. Probably ironical. See Ill-mannered, 105. 



— IQI 



(Bouzer I am not, but mild, sober Tuesday,/ As catt in cap-case, 
if I light not on St. Hewsday. The Christm. Prince., 1607, 
H. See Mild, p. 64. What is said there also applies here.) 



Drunk, Drinking. 

These two sections are of interest as they give us an idea 
of what is preferably intensified by sim. There are only two 
or three sim. with sober but some fifty illustrating a high 
degree of drunkenness. This must not be regarded as indicating 
any great prevalence of drunkenness. With equal justice one 
might infer from the fact that there are some 15 sim. speaking 
of deafness but not a single one dealing with a good sense 
of hearing, that deafness is remarkably common in England. 
This shows that it is rather the deviation from the normal 
state of things, that which strikes us as something remarkably 
out of the common, that is intensified by sim. Sobriety is, 
and has always been, the normal state of things, and only 
when it strikes us as something unexpected or unusual do 
we feel called upon to emphasize it by a sim. But the fact 
that there are some fifty sim. with dnink och drinking does 
tell us something as to the frequency of these aberrations 
from the normal. 

This is not the place to give anything like the history of 
English drinking, but the following quotations and reflexions 
may be pertinent to the matter in hand. 

This heavy-headed revel east and west 

Makes us traduced and tax'd of other nations: 

They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase 

Soil our addition; and indeed it takes 

From our achievements, though performed at height, 

The pith and marrow of our attibute. Shak., Hamlet, I, iv. 

Cas. 'Fore Heaven, an excellent song. lago. I learned it in 
England, where, indeed, they are most potent in potting: your 
Dane, your German, and your swag-bellied Hollander — Drink, 
ho! — are nothing to your English. Cas. Is your Englishman 
so exquisite in his drinking.^ lago. Why, he drinks you with 
facility your Dane dead-drunk; he sweats not to overthrow 
your Almain; he gives your Hollander a vomit, ere the next 
pottle can be filled. Shak., 0th., II, iii. "For [the Englishman] 
when he is at it, doth not sip and drink by halves, or demur 
upon it by pauses as the [German] doth, or by eating some 
salt quelque chose between, but he deals in sheer liquor, and 
is quickly at the bottom of his cup without intervening talk." 
Howell, Parley of Beasts, 1660 (Lean, III). Spungins . . . when 
I was pagan, and kneeled to this Bacchus, I durst outdrink a 



— 192 — 

lord; but your Christian lords outbowl me. I was in hope to 
lead a sober life when I was converted; but now amongst the 
Christians, I can no sooner stagger out of one ale-house, but 
I reel into another; they have whole streets of nothing but 
drinking rooms, and drabbing chambers, jumbled together. 
Massinger, VM. In Lansdowne MSS, No. 49, art. 28, Mr. 
William Georges mentions a statute in the 5th and 6th Edw. 
6th concerning alehouses, and adds: — "Since making this 
statute the number of ale-houses are so many throughout the 
whole realm, and many of them placed in such unfit and 
unconvenient places, that they are hurtful to the state and 
body of the commonwealth." He further complains that the 
justices neglect to inforce the recognizances when forfeited, 
and make no presentment of those who forfeit them. (N. & Q., 
2, III, 4). [Drunkenness] a sinne, that euer since we haue mixt 
ourselves with the Low-countries is counted honorable: but 
before we knew their lingering warres was held in the highest 
degree of hatred that might be. Nashe, I, 204. Hoc tamcn 
non praetereundum, Anglos qui ex omnibus septentrionalibus 
geniibiis ininime fuerunt bibaces et ob sobrietatem laudati, ex 
his Belgicis bellis didicisse immodico poiu se proluere, et alionnn 
saluti propinando suam affligere. Adeoque iani inde ebrietatis 
vitium pej- miiversain genteni proserpsit ut legian sevcritate 
nostro tempore primuinfiierit cohibitum. Camden, Annales Rerum 
A.nglicanim, (1581) ed. 1717, II, 389. What immoderate drinking 
in every place! . . . How the^^ flock to the tavern! as if they 
were fruges consiimere 7tati, born to no other end but to eat 
and drink. . . . As so many casks to hold wine . . . Et qitae 
fuenint vitia, mores sunt: 'tis now the fashion of our times, 
an honour: . . . 'tis now come to that pass, that he is held 
no gentleman, a very milk-sop, a clown, of no bringing up, 
that will not drink, fit for no company; he is your only gallant 
that plays it oft" finest, no disparagement now to stagger in 
the streets, reel, rave, &c, but much to his fame and renown. . . . 
'Tis a credit to have a strong brain, and carry his liquor well: 
the sole contention who can drink most, and fox his fellow 
soonest. . . . They have gymnasia bibonum, drinking-schools . . . 
Burton, AM, I, 26of. Mr. Runt was exceedingly husky in 
talk and unsteady in gait. A young lady of the present day 
would be alarmed to see a gentleman in such a condition ; 
but it was a common sight in those jolly old times when a 
gentleman was thought a milksop unless he was occasionally 
tipsy. Thackeray, BL, xvi. It was a merry place, London 
in those days ... A man could drink four times as much 
as the milksops nowadays can swallow: but 'tis useless 
expatiating on this theme. Gentlemen are dead and gone. 
The fashion has now turned upon soldiers and sailors, ibid. xvii. 
(This refers to the earlier part of the reign of King George III) 



— 193 — 

The Englishman of those days, whether soldier or sailor, was 
an incorrigible drunkard. Without drink he was a brave and 
good man. But if drink were laid before him it was a perfect 
madness — nothing could induce him to take it with moderation. 
Doyle, AG, 365 (during the Napoleonic wars). 

From these and numerous other quotations we gather that 
immoderate drinking became very common in the sixteenth c. 
It is repeatedly said that this is owing to Dutch influence. 
But to make the Dutch wholly responsible for it is probably 
very one-sided. The sixtenth c. was a period of change, 
upheaval, and revolution. It was the discovery ofa new world 
of continents and ideas, the breaking down of old traditions, 
habits and customs. It was a time of adventure and enterprise, 
of individual life strongly asserted and recklessly enjoyed, a 
time when fasting and mortification more than ever became 
a dead letter, passing away with the religion that imposed it 
upon an unwilling humanity. The 'severe laws' referred to by 
Camden were probably altogether powerless to suppress the 
evil, and so was also the statute of 4 James I, C 5, S 4, which 
directed that "any person convicted of being drunk shall pay 
five shillings, or be set in the stocks during the space of six 
hours." (Dodsley, V, 421, 437). Other forces were now at 
work, and they brought about a reaction. The drunken cobbler 
turned parson and a holder forth of the mortification of the sinful 
flesh. The Civil War and the Commonwealth did not encourage 
jollity and convivial habus. But the Restoration to a large 
extent also meant a restoration of excessive drinking, especially 
as, with the Dutch king, distilling was made perfectly free, 
1689, until Methodism came and put some check to the 
debaucheries, at least among the lower classes. The licensing 
policy of 175 1 also helped to reduce the drinkbill. But only 
the "milksop times" of the nineteenth c. have realized that 
drunkenness is a social crime. When abstinence becomes the 
general rule, as it is bound to do, all the following similes 
will gradually drop out of use or be applied only figuratively, 
possessing chiefly historical interest as dead witnesses of the 
manners of by-gone times. 

One of the causes that contributed to bring about an 
increase of drunkenness during the sixteenth c. was no doubt 
the introduction of new kinds of liquors. "The Vintners sold 
no Sacks, Muscadels, Malmseys, Bastards, Allegants, nor any 
other wines but W^hite and Claret, till the 33 year of King 
Henry the eighth, 1543, ... all those sweet wines were sold 
till that time at the Apothecaries for no other use, but for 
Medicines." Taylor, OM, 26 f. "And though I am not old, 
in comparison of other auncient men, I can remember Spanish 
wine rarely to be found in this kingdome. Then hot burning 
feavers were not knowne in England, and men lived more 

13 



— 194 — 

yeares. But since the Spanish sacks have beene common in 
our tavernes, which, for conservation, is mingled with lime 
in its making, our nation complaineth of calenturas, of the 
stone, the dropsie and infinite other deseases, not heard of 
before this wine came in frequent use, or but very seldome. 
To confirme which my behefe, I have heard one of our 
learnedst physitians affirme, that he thought there died more 
persons in England of drinking wine and using hot spice? in i 
their meats and drinkes, then of all other diseases." And I 
what is said of beer is well known from the o'd couplet 
"Hops, reformation, baise, and beer/ Came inte England all 
in a year." ^ Bere is made of malte, of hoppes and water: i 
it is a naturall drynke for a Dutche man. And nowe of late ' 
dayes it is much used in Englande to the detryment of 
many Englysshe men; specyally it kylleth them the which 
be troubled with the colycke &c. A. Boorde, Dyetary, 1542, 
EETS, es. 10, 256. j 

[He] bibbes ]3er of Tyl he be dronken as Jdc deuel. 13 . ., NED. 
As drunk as devils. Pepys, Diary, Sept. 1666, (Lean, II, ii). 
As drunk as a devil. Wilson, Belpheg., i, 1691, (Lean, II, 
ii). A man is said to be . . when he is very impudent, as 
drunk as the devil. 1816, NED. "The Doctor's as drunk as 
the D — — ", we said. Barham, IL, 83. The "Demon Drink" 
is closely related to the evil one, even if one does not go 
so far as to say, with the temperance preacher, that alcohol 
is the devil in liquid form. 

As drunk as hell. Slang. 

As drunk as blazes, (Blaizers, Blaize's?). Slang, N. & O., 6, II, 
92. "One of the commonest expressions." Blazes, generally 
supposed to mean the flames of hell, stands for the infernal 
region and things connected with it. Old blazes is an evasive 
for the devil, and like blazes a general intensive, vigorously, 
with ardour. Similarly blazi?ig both as adj. and adv., (see 
Slang) especially blazing-fou , so drunk as to become uproa- 
rious, and blazed (bleezed), under the beginning influence of 
drink. EDD. Consequently the phrase must be developed 
from 'to drink like blazes'. But 'it is quite a fashion now to 
trace everything to some saint or mediaeval custom.' (N. & 
O., 6, II, 92). The saint in question is St Blaize, the patron 
saint of wool-combers. His day, the 3rd of February, appears 
to have been celebrated by the followers of this trade. "There 
was also a general popular observance of this day in England. 
Apparently for no better reason than the sound of the bishop's 

' It occurs in different versions, and, according to those hitherto found, 
Greek, carps, turkey-cocks, and pickerel also "came hopping into England all in a 
year". These data are only very appro.ximately correct. See Northall, FR, 539. 
The period popularly referred to is 15 Henry VIII. 



— 195 — 

name, it was customary to light fires on this day or evening 
on hill-tops - - -." Chambers, BD, I, 219. A good deal of 
drinking is said to have taken place at these occasions and 
Blaizers is said to refer to those who celebrated St. Blaize's 
day. See Slang. 

As foil as a witch. — Very drunk. Mactaggart, 1824, EDD. 
Full, having eaten and drunk to repletion, now only arch, or 
vulgar; see p. 185 and cf p. 8, and ///, Sick, p. 162. Are the 
witches supposed to participate in libations with the devil, 
their master? 

Tight as sin. Ware. 

But Christmas scooped the sheriff, 
The egg-nogs gathered him in ; 
And Shelby's boy, Leviticus, 
Was, New Years, tight as sin. 
And along in March the Golyers 
Got so drunk that a fresh-biled owl 
Would 'a' looked 'longside o' them two young men 
Like a sober temperance fowl. Col. Hay, U. S. A. Amb. to England 
in 1897. 

Tight, drunk, tipsy, rec. in NED fr. 1853. It seems to be a 
synonymous intensive of drunk, or at least oi full, as appears 
from the following quotation, 'But although he was full, he 
denied that he was tight.' Slang. 'But cf 'No, sir, not a bit 
tipsy', said Harding, interpreting his glance, 'not even what 
Mr. Cutbills calls "tight"!' — The inst. is American, and 
perhaps the sim. hails from the States. Scooped, on the 
scoop, on the drink, a round of dissipation, "Christmas 
scooped the sheriff means it got away with him, laid him 
out, as we say, he was beaten by the eggnogs: gathered him 
in, we use it frequently; when anybody is a loser he is 
gathered in." (C. J. Stephansen, Worthington, Min., U. S. A., 
in a private letter). 

As drunk as buggery. Slang. Does it mean, so drunk as to 
commit buggery? It is worth noticing that the adj. is a vulgar 
pejorative intensive of the same type as blamed, bloody, 
blasted, &c. 

As drunk as Bacchus. Slang. Bacchus rec. in English fr. c. 1500. 
— Bacchus, the god of brew'd wine and sugar, grand patron 
of rob-pots, upsy-freesy tipplers, and super-naculum takers; 
this Bacchus, who is headwarden of Vintner's Hall, ale-conner, 
mayor of all victualling houses, the sole liquid benefactor to 
bawdy-houses; lanceprezade to red noses, and invincible adel- 
antado over the armado of pimpled, deep-scarleted, and car- 
buncled faces . . . Massinger, VM, 7, a passage intended to 
ridicule the drinking customs of the age. 

A certain Count Herman,/ A highly respectable man as a German,/ 
Who smoked like a chimney, and drank like a Merman. 
Barham, IL, 177. Probably only a nonce-phrase, invented 



— 196 — 

for the sake of rhyme. The viennan, a he-mermaid, to quote 
Swift, is rec. fr. c. 1600. Cf below 'to drink like a fish.' 

As wise as Solonioji. One of the 80 expressions for drunkenness 
given in Gentleman'' s Mag., 1770, 559. Does it refer to the 
assertive self-sufficiency of the early stages of drunkenness.?' 

St. Perran communicated his discovery [of tin] to St. Chiwidden . . 
Great was the joy in Cornwall . . . Mead and metheglin . . 
flowed in abundance; and . . . ' Dnink as a Perraner has 
certainly passed into a proverb from that day. Cor. EDD. 

Drunk as Chloe. Brewer; Baumann. "Chloe is the cobler's wife 
of Linden Grove, to whom Prior the poet was attached. She 
was notorious for her drinking habits.'' Brewer. It is true 
that Prior's Chloes and 'nut-brown maids' were of a very 
humble social status, and his own standard of morals can 
hardly have been a very elevated one, but as long as we 
know nothing of the period when the sim. was used we are 
justified in doubting every bare statement not borne out by 
literary evidences. See below. 

'''Drunk as Floey (Peoples'). Who it appears was dead drunk — 
may be a corruption of Flora, but probably a confusion 
between that comparatively familiar name and 'Chloe.' If the 
latter, good instance of the power Swift had to popularize. 
In the Dean's poems Chloe is always more or less under the 
influence of drink.'' Ware. — It is to be observed that 
Ware was a comedian, and no philologist. We know nothing \ 
about the phrase. 

As dru7ik as an emperour. Grose, Slang. A common phrase, used 
as an intensive of 'as drunk as a lord.' ihd. 

As Jiappy as a king. One of the 80 expressions for drunkenness 
referred to in Gent. Mag. 1770, 559, f. Happy, 'inspired, 
jolly' from drink, rec. fr. the date mentioned. Cf. You can 
tipple like a kiiig upon his throne. Baring-Gould, BS, 34. 
A king like Henry V^III may have given rise to a sim. of 
this kind. We are told that he was "marvellously excessive 
in eating and drinking.'' Brooks-Adams, 225. 

As dnmk as 2l prince. Fulwell, Like n-ill to Like, 1568, Wesley, 
Maggots. 1685. Lean, II, ii. 

The Gentlemen are most of them very intemperate, yet the Proverb 
goes, 'As drunk as a Lord.' Evelyn, 165 1. [As drunk as a 
beggar] This proverb begins now to be disused, and, instead 
of it, people are ready to say. As drunk as a lord: so much 
hath that vice (the more is the pity) prevailed amongst the 
nobility and gentry of late years. Ray. Flatman, 1681, NED. 
I'm always sharp set towards punch; and am now come with 
a firm resolution, though but a por cobler, to be as richly 
drunk as a lord; I am a true English heart, and look upon 
drunkennes as the best part of the liberty of the subject, 
Coftey, 1 73 1, Slang. Gentleman s Mag. 1770, 559. Combe,, 



— 197 - 

Syntax, I, vii, 1812. (Lean, II, ii). Zo drunk's a lord. Hewett, 
Dev. 11; Hardy, UGT. 12; "And where is Koho?" Grief 
asked. "Back in the bush and as drunk as a lord." London, 
SS, 145. He's going to make old Berrow's chaps as drunk 
as lords. Jacob's, MC, 128. In Slang insts. of 1678, 1719, 

1734- 

She ran screaming through the galleries, and I, as tipsy as 
a lord, came staggering after. Thackeray, BL, xviii. 
To drink like a lord. Middleton & Rowley, 1623, NED. — 
You had rather be a civil, well-governed, well-grounded, temp- 
erate, poor Angler, than a drunken lord: but I hope there is 
none such. Walton, CA, 143. Dear kindhearted Walton! 
The young dandies of the early seventeenth c. probably gave 
rise to the sim. Their drinking habits are illustrated by the 
following invocation: — Awake, thou noblest drunken Bacchus! 
thou must likewise stand to me, if at least thou canst for 
reeling; teach me you sovereign skinker, how to take the 
German's upsy- freeze, the Danish rowsa, the Switzer's stoop 
of rhenish, the Italian's parmizant, the Englishman's healths, 
his hoops, cans, half-cans, gloves, frolics, and flap-dragons, 
togethere with the most notorious qualities of the truest 
tosspots, as when to cast, when to quarrel, when to fight, 
and where to sleep: hide not a drop of the moist mystery 
from me, thou plumpest swill-bowl; but like an honest red- 
nosed wine-bibber, lay open all thy secrets and the mystical 
hieroglyphic of rasher o'th' coals, modicums, and shoeing- 
horns, and why they were invented, for what occupations, 
and when used. Dekker, GH, 7, f Cf. also 'doing the lord', 
'to make a gentleman of a person', to make him drunk. 
Hmp, EDD; and the Sw. Dricka Watn som en oxe/ och 
Wijn som en Herre. (drink water like an ox, and wine like 
a gentleman) Grubb, 155. — '"Drunk as a lord" and "sober 
as a judge" have ceased to have any recognisable application 
to the nobility and the Judicial Bench. Judges, in these later 
days, are as sober as other folk, take them as a class, no 
more and no less, and the same applies to the Peerage.' 
D. T., 27 May, 1889. 

"Mr. Justice Darling said he remembered when he joined 
the Staffordshire Sessions they had in a hall there a thing 
called a beerometer which contained all the expressions by 
which one could tell exactly how drunk a man was. He need 
hardly say that a the top was 'as drunk as a lord', and at 
the bottom was 'as sober as a judge'." DNL. — It is a pity 
that this valuable document is not obtainable now. 
As dnmk as a M. P. (can't stand upright), Northall, FPh. — If 
this phrase has any currency it gives us a strange idea of 
electioneering customs, but Eatansville testifies to the possi- 
bility of strong liquors being present on such occasions. 



— 198 — 

Drunk as a pope. — Benedict XII, a glutton and a wine-bibber, 
gave rise to the expression, Pibamus papaliier. Slang. 

As drimk as a parson. (War.) Northal, FPh., 8. "The ministers 
of rehgion in every country and age have been popularly 
accounted bon-vivajtts. . . Our bishops are currently supposed 
to be at least as fat as aldermen." N. & Q., Oct. 1852, 
425. Cf. "Conger — conger eel — fine, ladies — fresh, ladies 
— and bellies as big as bishops!" Caine, D., xvi. The Sw. 
prost (dean) is popularly supposed never to shirk a bumper, 
a jolly good fellow, lazy and round as a cheese, as the Sw. 
sim. has it. The Germans think that a parson will drink St. 
George to death, or that a priest never died from thirst or 
fasting. Wander, s. v. Pfaffe. 

"'As drunk as a hatter" has long since passed into a proverb. 
There were some sober hatters in the times of which I write, 
but there were also many drinking ones. The hatters from 
out of town brought their rum by the keg or barrel, while 
those on Grassy Plains kept a man whose almost sole duty 
it was to go to and from the store and shops with . . bot- 
tles . . . .' Life of P. T. Barnum, 1855, p. 57. The time 
referred to is 1826. See Mad, p. 36 ff. 

As drtmk as a porter. Field, Woman &c., II, ii. (Lean, II, ii). 
I have had the honour of seeing his Royal Highness the 
Chevalier Charles Edward as drunk as any porter. Thackeray, 
BL,xiii. See Scolding, p. 107. 

As dr7mk as a cobbler. Ware. — "The Pole, for drinking com- 
parisons, has long held in France the position maintained in 
England by the cobbler. — 'drunk as a cobbler', ibid. — 
The "gentle craft" has long been associated with drinking. 
He is already in Langland's tavern in the company of 'Tymme 
the tynkere' and other more or less disreputable persons. In 
i486 (NP2D) we meet 'a dronkship of coblers' and Nashe (I, 
116) is of the opinion that "if there were censors in Rome 
[shoemakers] would get more and drink less." And the folk- 
rhyme says that 'cobblers and tinkers are the best ale-drinkers'. 
'It is a custom in Ireland among shoemakers, if they intoxi- 
cate themselves on Sunday, to do no work on Monday; and 
this they call making a St. Monday.' Edgeworth, 1804, NED, 
which was known in England about two hundred years earlier, 
and it is to be feared that the Cobbler's Monday is not yet 
altogether extinct. "The gentle craft are gentlemen every 
Monday by their copy, and scorn (then) to work one true 
-Stitch." Dekker, HWh, la, x. — But Puritan P^ngland knew 
a different sort of cobbler (see p. 193), You may see Cobblers 
and Tinkers rising from the very Dunghill, beating the pulpits 
as conformably, as if they were the King's professors of 
divinity. CC, 3. The sim is also in Russian. 

They chat together, drink and fill/ And like two inkle<veavers\ 



— 199 — 

swill. Poems on Several Occasions, by N. Amhurst, 1720. 
See Intimacy, Ch. IV. 

As drunk as a Gosport fiddler. Rog. — This may have originated 
in earUer times when Gosport was an important place "owing 
to its position at the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour, and its 
convenience as a victualHng station" (Enc. Brit.). As the 
town was very prosperous during the American and Penin- 
sular Wars it is quite probable that it became renowned 
among sea-faring people as another 'Fiddler's Green.' 

As drunk as a fiddler. The Puritan, 1609, (Lean, II, ii). Slang, 
1832; Blakeborough, NRY, 241, "in daily use". Towards 
daylight he crawled out again drunk as a fiddler, and rolled 
off the porch. Twain, HF, 38. — The scarcity of early insts 
is remarkable. — The fiddler was of old a frequent guest in 
taverns and ale-houses, as appears from numerous passages 
in Elizabethan writers: — Those liuings which now maintaine 
so many schoUers and students would in two or three years 
be all spent in a Tauerne amongst a consort of Queanes and 
fidlers. Nashe, III, 391. [In a description of a tavern scene] 
And he has not head/ To bear any wine; for what the noise 
of the fiddlers,/ And care of his shop ... he was fain to be 
brought home. Jonson, Alch., Ill, ii, 410. And 'meat, drink, 
and money' is proverbially the fiddler's fare. (Swift, PC, 295). 
Our musicke that was held so delectable and precious that 
they scorned to come to a tavern under twenty shillings 
salary for two houres, now wander with their instrumentes 
under their cloakes, I mean such as have any, to all houses 
of good fellowship, saluting every roome where there is 
company with tvill you have any imisike ge?iilemen. Such 
was the consequence of the severity of puritan discipline. AR. 

As dnmk as a fiddlers bitch. War. EDD. Northall, FPh. (Glouc.) 
8. See p. 201, tinker's bitch. 

As full as a piper. Frf. Ayr. EDD. Slang. 

As drunk as a piper. Gent. Mag., 1770, 559. Graves, 1772, 
Slang; Stf. 18 16; Per. 1835; ne. Sc. 1896, EDD. Northall, 
FPh. Is this originally a northern sim.? The Highland bagpiper 
is not above a drop, and Scotch whisky is known to have 
made people 'piper-fou'. 

As drunk as a tapster. Cf. Ther's Tom the Tapster peerless for 
renowne. That drank three hundred drunken Dutchmen down. 
Parkes, 161 2, NED. 

As drunk as a breiver s fart. Slang. 

As drunk as a tinker at Banbury or nurses at a christening. The 
London Chantecleers, V, 1659. — Banbury tinkers have already 
been mentioned p. 47. Cf. At a poor ale-house I was glad 
of entertainment, and had the company of a tinker who made 
pretty music with his Banbury kettle-drum. Taylor, ST, 12. 
What this originally alluded to, does not appear to be known. 



— 200 — 

The people of B. seem to have enjoyed the same sort of 
reputation as the Gothamites, owing to their zealous puritanism. 
This is the generally accepted idea, and undoubtedly it must 
have had something to do with their ill-fame, but as a matter 
of fact Latimer's Banbury Glosses is earlier than Puritanism, 
and a strictly and severely puritan country town would hardly 
be the right place for drunken tinkers. The following quotation 
has something to say on this point. 'Tinkers cannot have 
been encouraged to stay at this very strongly puritan town, 
as we read in Beesley's History of Banbury, p. 458, a refe- 
rence to a newspaper of 1641 in Lord Spencer's library 
at Althorp, which has the following passage: "Since the 
memorable execution of Tinkers in this towne, no severity 
of any itinerant Judge hath been filed upon our Records."' 
(N. & Q., 2, III, 200). 
As drunk as a tinker. Bohn, Benham; mentioned in NED, but no 
inst. given. 

To sivill like a tinker, 1694. Slang. Tom the Tynkere was 
already in Langland's tavern, and there he has been at home 
ever since. And considering the fact that he has a very 
black book indeed the scarcity of early insts is remarkable. 
See the above sim., and cf. the following passages: " 'Tis 
rare to be a tinker boy: Work enough, wench enough, drink 
enough." Armin, Two Maids of Morccl., 1609, (Lean), [tobacco] 
is commonly abused by most men, which take it as Tinkers 
do Ale. Burton, AM, II, 264. We meet him as a champion 
drinker in the following verses: — 

There was a jovial tinker, 

Who was a good ale-drinker ; 

He was never a shrinker, 

Believe this is true. 

And he came from the Weald of Kent, 

When all his money was gone and spent, 

Which made him look like a Jack-a'-Lent. 

And Joan's ale was new, 

And Joan's ale is new, my boys. 

The cobbler and the broom-man 

Came up to the room, man, 

And said they would drink for boon, man. 

Let each one take his due! 

fJut when the liquor good they found, 

They cast their caps upon the ground, 

And so the tinker he drunk round, 

Whilst Joan's ale &c. 

Chappel, Popular Musik of the Olden Time, 18, (temp. Charles II). 

See Hardy, DR, 374. — He himself and his wife, or trull, 
and dog, or rather bitch, have always been regarded as very 
bad company: 'all base handicrafts, as coblers, and curriers 
and tinkers' (Nashe, II, 232, 241); 'the veriest botcher, or 
tinker or cobler' [ibid. 298). If peat keeps the warmth in 



— 201 — 

my carcase, 'twill do the like for him — king or tinker. 
Phillpotts, AP, 14. See also MacLaren, YB, 119, 121. — 
The Anabaptist was a tinker and brazier, and a tinker and brazier 
is ever a gipsy. Yoxall, RS, 126, gives an explanation of this 
low repute of the kettlemender's. — The sim. is also in Dutch. 
Kunnen drinken ah een keteleer. In Nord Brabant, ziiipen 
als een ketelbuter. Stoett, NS, I, 171. Germ. Kesselflicker 
leiden an viel Durst. Wander. 

As drunk as a tinkers bitch. E. Ang. Forby, 1830 (Lean, II, ii). 
Like master, like man, or dog. The tinker's dog is often 
spoken of. Like a tinker that neuer trauailes without his 
wench and his dog. Nashe, III, no, 1596; He was none of 
those rascally base Tinkers, that with a bandog and a drab 
at their tayles will take a purse sooner than stop a kettle. 
Dekker, Wks, I, 141 (Notes); Whats a tinker without a wench, 
staffe, and dogge.?' Armin, Two Maids of Morecl., II, 745, 
6 (Notes). 

As drunk as a beggar. Massinger, VM, III, iii. Draxe, 1633 
(Lean, II, ii). Ray. According to Ray, quoted above p. 185, 
the sim. was obsolescent in his time. It is no doubt earlier 
than the Virgin Martyr. It probably arose in the latter 
half of the sixteenth c. when the wholesale eviction of yeomen, 
the dissolution of monasteries, and the return of disbanded 
soldiers had filled England with a beggar-proletariat of truly 
formidable dimensions to become, as Kingsley calls it, a fourth 
estate, which must have occasioned a great many proverbial 
phrases, more perhaps than what has found its way into 
literature and modern collections. 

As drunk as a fool. Northall, FPh., 8. Does this refer to the 
same thing as is hinted at in connection with 'as fat as a 
fool', or is it simply an intimation that anyone that exceeds 
a certain modicum must needs become a fool or act as stupidly 
as a fool? 

Strait staggers by a Porter or a Carman/ As bumsie as a fox'd 
flapdragon German. Taylor (W. P.), 1630, NED. — Bumpsy, 
intoxicated, tipsy, rec. in NED 161 1, and 1630. It is said 
to occur in dial., but EDD does not know it. Flapdragon 
(also snap, or slap dr.), a raisin, or the like, set on fire in a 
glass of liquor, also a contemptuous appellation for a German 
or Dutchman. For German drinking customs see Taylor, 
TH, 4 f. quoted below. Cf also. And though the Germans 
did bear away the bell for drinking, yet it was rather long 
than much, being content to pelt his enemy at a distance; 
whereas we are after the modern way of fight, altogether for 
down blows, being impatient till the opposite have a total 
rout. Trenchfield, Cap of Grey Hairs &c., 167S (Lean); Der 
Englander isst das meiste, aber der Deutsche trinkt das meiste. 
Hesekiei, Land 'and Stadt im Volksmunde, Berlin, 1867, (Lean). 



. — 202 — 

The German popular saying is probably correct if we think 
of the Bavarians. 

One of the faithful, as they profanely terme him ... he will drink 
many degrees beyond a Dutchman. 1609, s. v. faithful, NED. 
Our drunken ship reeledX^^ a Dutchman. Dekker, HWh, la, ii. 
Falling into a swinish trick of szvilling like the Hollanders. 
Kingsley, WH, 85. — As Dutch drinking has already been 
referred to, p. 193, only some few quotations are necessary to 
show how profoundly the Dutch drinking habits had impressed 
themselves upon the E^nglish mind: The pleasant worke Dc 
arte bibendi a drunken Dutchman spued out few yeares since. 
Nashe, III, 277. With the Dane and the Dutchman I will 
not encounter, for they are simple honest men, that with 
Danaus daughters doe nothing but fill bottomless tubs, and 
will be drunk and snort in the midst of dinner, ibid. II, 301. 
The Englishman is wise, but cannot show it; the Italian both 
is wise and seems so, and the Dutchman would be wise but 
for the pot. Copley, Wits, Fits, Fancies, 1614, (Lean). To 
smoke with the Indian, quarrel with the Frenchman, court a lady 
with a Venetian, plot villany with the Italian, be proud with 
the Spaniard, cog with a Jew, insult with a Turk, drink down 
a Dutchman, and tell lies with the devil, — for a wager, are 
work for wolves, not for lambs. T. Adams, Physics fr. 
Heaven, 1629, (Lean). The Dutchman would still be the 
perfectest soaker. 1652, NED. The heavy Hollanders no 
vices know/ But what they used a hundred years ago./ Like 
honest plants, where they were stuck they grow./ They 
cheat, but still from cheating sires they come; They drink, 
but they were christened first in mum. Dryden, SF (VI, 
412). Well-known are also the terms 'upsee Dutch, upsee 
Freeze', 'Dutchman's headache', 'Dutch courage' (still used, 
Shaw, IK, 36) &c. — Sou coninie un Anglais was the French 
rendering and experience, at the time of Rabelais. 

And she has been chuckin' tlie heel taps to the hog, and made 
him as drunk as a Christian. Baring-Gould, BS, 93, which 
means 'as drunk as any human being could be'. See p. 32, 
as cunning &c. as a Christian. Cf Fr. saotd comme trente 
niille homme. Slang. 

As drunk as cloy. Robinson, Whitby Gloss. Cloy, to surfeit, is 
known since Palsgrave. As a subst. only in the dial, of Cum. 
and Yks. 'So drunk as to feel nausea.' Cf. 'as sick as a 
cushion.' p. 162. 

Drunk as a polony. (London). Ware. Polony, a kind of pork 
sausage, but probably a corruption of tlie Fr. soitl comme un 
polonais. (Ware). This sim. is also in Flanders drinken, zidpen 
gelijk en Polak. Stoett, NS, I, 171; and the Germ, proverb 
says Der PoV a?i eineni Tag oft mehr vertrinkt, als ivas ein 
Deutschcr im Leben erri7igt. Wander, which, according to the 



— 203 — 

author, is a reflection on the social habits of the PoUsh 
nobitity. "In Poland, he is the best servitor, and the honestest 
fellow . . that drinketh most healths to the honour of his 
master." Burton, AM, I, 263. 

As full as a beer-barrel. Overheard in Oxford. 

Blue as a razor from his midnight revel. Thornton. Cf. the phrase 
'to look blue' from depression and discomfiture; and the old 
phrase 'to drink till all is blue.' They drink . . . Vntil their 
adle heads doe make the ground Seeme blew vnto them. 
16 16, NED. I have nothing to do; And 'fore George I'll 
sit here, and drink till all is blue. Barham, IL, 162. Till 
all is Blue: carried to the utmost — a phrase borrowed from 
the idea of a vessel making out of port, and getting into 
blue water. Smyth, Sailors Word-bk, 1867, NED. 

As drunk as a besom. Northall, FPh. When t'supper wer ower 
we set teah, an' hadn't we a smelt noo — we all gat as 
drunk as besoms. Nidderdill Olm. 1870. Yks. EDD. Lin. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 'The besom shares with the beetle 
the distinction of being an emblem of insensibility.' ibid. 
Does it refer to the stage of drunkenness when the sensory 
nerves are paralyzed, and the drunkard is insensible to hurts 
and blows .^^ But see also the following sim. and cf. Fond, p. 43. 

As drunk as a mop. Said of a sot that cannot stand without 
support. Northall, FPh. 9. Is it because a mop always falls 
down unless put in a corner or some stand.?* 

As drunk as a top. Lean, II, ii. See Sleep, p. 168. 

As drunk as a drum. Farquhar, Sir H. Wildair, IV, ii, 1701 
(Lean, II, ii). 

Besides, if he such things can do,/ When drunk as drum of wheel- 
barroio^l What would not this god of October/ Perform, I 
prithee, when he's sober. Cotton, 1675, Slang. 

As drunk as a wheelbarroiv. Ray. Cotton, Burlesque, 1674. S. 
Wesley, Maggots, p. yj, 1685 (Lean, II, ii). 

As dnmk as a ivheelhead. Yks. Lan. EDD. As drunken as a 
wheel. Yks. EDD. — The allusion of the last five sim. is a 
little obscure. Is a wheelbarrow 'drunk' because it is always 
more or less staggering.? The drum of a wheelbarrow, the 
wheel and the wheelhead because they turn round? And do 
the drum and the ivheelhead refer to the same thing.? Cf. 
the fig. use of drunken, uneven, unsteady, reeling. 

To drink like a funnel. H. — A funnel can drink no end of 
liquids. In Sw. the corresponding word tratt is used in very 
much the same way. Fylltratt is a usual designation of a 
drunkard. 

As fidl as a jade, quoth the bride. Ray. What is the application 
of this sim.? 

As drunk as an ass. E. Sufif. EDD. Cf. Saoul conmie un ane. 
Slang. See also below 'as drunk as a swine'. Northall, FPh. 



— 204 — 

27, lias 'to drink like an ass', and explains 'i. e. when thirsty 
only'. Probably not correct. Does it not rather mean 'to 
drink oneself as stupid as an a.ss'? 

As dnnik as David's sow. Ray; Gay, NS; Bailey, Colloqides of 
Erasmus, 1725; Swift, PC, 294; Gentleman s Mag., 1770, 
559; Scott, Pirate, xxxiv, Redgaiintlet. xiv; Marryat, P. 
Simple (W). 

Had he not come home as tipsy as David's sow? Barham, 
IL, 443. — The current explanation of this sim. is well-known. 
It is said to refer to a Wel.shman, David Jones, whose wife 
on a certain occasion was found dead-drunk in the pig-sty. 
The story seems to emanate from the British Apollo, I, 527, 
171 1. Where it had it from, has not as yet been discovered. 
As the sim. is at least some 40 years older all traditionary 
tales concerning its origin must be taken with caution. This 
particular story has very much the look of one of the numer- 
ous tales invented to explain a place-name, a proverb, or a phrase. 
Until still earlier insts and actual facts have been found, 
no opinion can be pronounced. See also N. & O., 6, III, 
passim. 

As drunk as a soiv. B. Jonson, Every Man oid of Jus H., V, v. 
Cf. the cp sim. soiv-drunk found already in Barclay, Ship of 
Fools, i, 96 (Lean); Yet there ye drest the drunken sow. 
GGN, III, ii (Dodsley, I, 157). 

Drunk as Essex hogs. — Whence is this proverb derived? asked 
R. C. Hope, N. & O., 6, III, 469. Is it impossible to think 
tliat Essex hogs is a county nickname, and the saying, rightly 
or wrongly, a reflection on the drinking habits at some period 
prevailing, or supposed to prevail, in Essex? 

And in the morenning by viii. was his houre/ To be as drunk as 
any stvyne. Colyn BloivboVs Test. c. 1500, N. & Q., 6, III. 
394. As dronken as are swyne. E. More, Def. of Woni., 
1557 (Lean, II, ii); Dronkenner than swine. Barclay, Eel. 
ante 1530 (Lean, II, ii). Stf. EDD. This sim. is perhaps 
better known in the cp form swine-drunk, swine-dronk'en 
(Halliwell). 

Sivine-drunk is the third degree, or perhaps rather kind, 
of drunkenness, according to old traditions. This is how 
Nashe puts it: Ape drunk and he leapes and sings and hol- 
lowes and daunceth for the heavens; the second is Lion drunk, 
and he fhngs the pots about the house, calles the hostess 
whore, breakes the glasse windwes with his dagger . .; the 
third is swine drunk, heavie, lumpish, and sleepie, and cries 
for a little more drink and a few more clothes: the fourth is 
sheep drunk, wise in his own conceipt . . .: the fifth is Mawdlen, 
when a fellow will weep for kindness in the midst of his ale 
and kisse you . . .; the sixth is Martin drunke when he drinkes 
himself sober ere he stirre; the seuenth is Goate drunk, when 



— 205 — 

in his drunkenness he has no mind but on lechery, the 
eighth is Foxe drunk, when he is crafty, drunk as many of 
the Dutchmen bee, that will neuer bargain but when they are 
drunke. (I, 207, 8). 

Brewer has another tradition concerning the different de- 
grees or kinds of drunkenness: ape-drunk, lion-drunk, swine- 
drunk, sheep-drunk, Martin-drunk, goat-drunk, and fox-drunk. 
The old mediaeval saying gives us only four stages of drunk- 
enness, in which a man resembled successively a sheep, a lion, 
an ape, and a sow. The Calendrier des Bergers, 1493, 
distinguishes by their effects on the brain of four wines as Vin 
de lyon, Vin de singe, vin de jnouton et Vin de ponrceau. 
Lean. Di agnello, porco, sciniia, leone tiente il vin la conip- 
lessione. Lean. There is an old tale of Bacchus planting the 
vine, and using the hollow bones of different animals as 
receptacles for the seed and the tiny plant, but a bird and 
an ass take the place of the sheep and the ape. — An inter- 
esting impersonation of animals to denote various stages of 
drunkenness is found in Linne's Dissertatio de hiebriantibus . 
Cf. also the following passage, which at the same time gives 
us an insight into German drinking habits of the early seven- 
teenth c. : — And being at dinner, because I was a stranger, 
I was promoted to the chiefest place, where to observe an 
old custom, every man did his best endeavour to hance me 
for my welcome, which by interpretation is, to give a man a 
loaf too much out of the brewer's basket, in which kind of 
potshot, our English are grown such stout proficients that 
some of them dare bandy and contend with the Dutch, their 
first teachers. But after they had hanced me as well as they 
could, and I pleased, they administered an oath to me, in 
manner and form as followeth; Laying my hand on a ftdl pot, 
I swear by these contents and all that is herein contained, 
that by the courteous favour of these gentlemen, I do find 
myself sufficiently hanced, and that henceforth I shall acknow- 
ledge it; and that whensoever I shall offer to be hanced again, 
I shall arm myself with the craft of the fox, the manners of 
a hog, the wisdom of an ass, mixed with the civility of a 
bear. This was the form of the oath, which as near as I 
can shall be performed on my part; and here is to be noted 
that the first word a nurse or a mother doth teach her children 
if they be males, is drink or beer: So that most of them are 
transformed to barrels, firkins, and kilderkins, always freight 
with Hamburgh beer. Taylor, TH, 4 f . — Cf. Sw. ftdl soin 
ett svin. 

Note. Martin-drunk. The feast of St. Martin, Martinmas, 
occasionally also called Martinalia, is said to have taken the 
place of an old pagan festival, the Vinalia, and inherited some 
of its usages. Cf. this passage, Martinalia (St. Martin's day), 



— 206 — 

which they call the day of broaching new wines. Withals, 
1608, (Lean). By this circumstance is probably to be ex- 
plained the fact that Martin is the patron of publicans and 
tavern keepers, of drinking and jovial meetings, as well as 
the protecting saint of drunkards to save them from danger. 
(Chambers, BD, II, 568). As Martinmas witnessed a good 
deal of drunkenness this vice is termed St. Martin's evil. Cf. 
the Latin Post Martinum bo7iuni vinum; Fr. faire la Saint 
Martin; Germ. Sankt Martin feiern. 

There is nother greate nor small but then they will drink wine. 
If they should lay their cote to gage to drink or it fine. 
(Quot. in Hazlitt, DFF). 

Therefore Martin-drtmk, in all probability, means very drunk 
indeed, suffering from St. Martin's evil, as one must be that 
celebrates Martinmas too liberally. Martin is also used (by 
Baxter) as a term for a noisy tippler. This gives a fully 
satisfactory explanation of the cp. sim, and the rendering 
proposed by NED, martin, a kind of monkey, seems rather 
unfortunate, especially as it implies that Nashe in the same 
passage should speak of one person as ape-drunk, and of 
another as monkey-drunk, which would be a distinction without 
a difference. (See further Enc. Brit., Brewer, Hazlitt, DFF). 

I was drunk as a pig when I put my name down. Phillpotts, 
SW, 48. You were both as drunk as pigs. Oxenham, MSS, 
55. Northall, FPh. Perhaps the modern rendering of the 
above sim. 

^'Full as a goat. (Tavern, 18 cent). Drunk. This phrase is evi- 
dently 'Full as a goitre', the word often used for the huge 
throat wen, which, common in the last century, is now rarely 
seen. The word having no distinct modern meaning, has 
been naturally changed to goat. The idea of fullness is 
complete in contemplating a huge goitre, which always looks 
upon the point of bursting. — Nezv Arrival. 'I want a bed.' 
Clerk. 'Can't have one, sir; they are all full.' N. A. 'Then 
I'll sleep with the landlord.' CI. 'Can't do it, sir. He's full 
too; fuller than a goat, and has been for three days.' N. Y. 
Mercury, 1888." Ware. — This has been quoted in full as 
an instance of Ware's 'philology'. Why 'evidently'? What 
is there strange and impossible about the saying to necessitate 
an interpretation of this kind.f^ Goat-dnink (see above) may 
originally have designated the sexually excited stage of drunk- 
enness, but a transition and development to mean a high 
degree of intoxication in general is perfectly natural. 

Ar drongen as an ape. Grange, Golden Aphrod., 1577. Colyn 
Blozvbols Test. (H, E. P. Poetry, i, 104), Lean, II, ii. N. & 
Q., I, XII, 123; As drunk as an ape. Northall, FPh. 
As fuddled as an ape. Gent. Mag. 1770, 559. 'The Ape of 
all thing cannot abide a snail, now the ape is a drunken 



— 207 — 

beast, for they are wont to take an Ape by making him 
drunk, and a Snail well washed is a remedy against drunken- 
nesse. John Baptist Porta, Natiirall Magick (ed. dated 1658, 
Hulme, NH, 154). Cf. the cp sim. ape-drunk, and the term 
'wine of ape' (I trow that ye haue dronken win of ape, 
Chaucer) and the corresp. Fr. vi?i de singe. In Leopold 
Dukes, Rabbinische Blumenlese (Leipzig, 1844, p. 192) there 
is a passage to the point. Satan came to Noah as he was 
planting his vineyard. On hearing what he was about to do, 
he brought a lamb, a lion, a pig, and an ape; slaughtered 
them in the vineyard, and let the earth drink up their blood. 
Thereby he signified that man, before he had tasted wine is 
innocent as a lamb . . . When he drinks moderately, he is 
as a lion, and supposes that there is none like him on the 
earth; if he drinks above measure, he becomes as a pig, and 
rolls about in nonsense. But if he is thoroughly drunk, he 
becomes as an ape; he hops about and jabbers, knowing 
neither beginning nor end of his speech. (N. & O., i, 
XII, 123). 

As drunk as ten bears. Lean, 11, ii. Cf. the old Sw. proverb 
'Drucken, om aftonen som en Bjorn, Om morgonen som en 
skjuten Orn (drunk, in the evening like a bear, in the morning 
like a shot erne). Grubb, 157. 

Mon cher, he was drunk — drunk as a beast, with his nose beaten 
in. Shaw, LA, 280. Cf. beastly drunk (rec. fr. 1803); The 
beastly vice of drinking to excess. Swift, 1709; to make a 
beast of oneself; Till Morn' sends stagg'ring Home a Drunken 
Beast. Steele, 1709, NED. 

As full as a blow'd mouse. Northall, Warwick Wdbk, 276. Slowed, 
swelled. 

When that he is as dronke as a dreynt mous. Ritson, Ancient 
So7igs, The Man in the Moon. The connection between 
drowning and drunkenness appears from the following quot. 
"What's a drunken man like, fool? — Like a drowned man, 
a fool and a madman: one draught above heat makes him 
a fool; the second mads him, and the third drowns him . . . 
he's in the third degree of drink, he is drowned. Shak., TN, 
I, V, 121. — There are some proverbial expressions in which 
droivned mouse occur: 'to look like a drowned mouse', which 
is already in Shakespeare; They [the English] want their 
porridge and their fat bull-beeves! Either they must be dieted 
like mules/ And have their provender tied to their mouths/ 
Or piteous they will look, like drowned mouse. (KH Via, I, 
ii, 12). 'Pour not, or to pour, water on a drowned mouse', 
(Clarke, Ray) "to cast out spite on one past vengeance". 
Northall, FPh. 29. Therefore the sim. perhaps originally 
referred to one that lies all of a heap on the ground hope- 
lessly and pitiably drunk. 



— 208 — 

We faren as he that dronlce is as a vious. Chaucer, KT, 403. 
Monckes drynk an bowl after collacyon tell ten or xii of the 
clock and cum to mattens as dronck as myss. R. Beerly to 
Cromwell. Ed. Wright, p. 133. (N. & Q., 5, V, 222). Dronken 
as a mouse, At the ale-house. Skelton, Colyn Clout, 8034. 
And I will pledge Tom Tosspot, till I be as drunk as a 
mouse-a. Dodsley, Old Plays (ed. Hazlitt, iii, 339). Doctor 
DoubleaU^ (H, E. Pop. Poet, iii, 308). C. BlowboVs Test. 
(ibid, i, 98, 103); Disobedient Child, (H, Dodsley, ii, 300, 
Lean, II, ii). Songs, 113. Hauf on us was as drunk as mice. 
Lin. EDD. — This sim. has also been found in MLG of the 
reformation period, in Daniel von Soest's SpottgedicJite, Ein 
dialogon, darinne de spy ok Esaie am ersteji Kapitel 8zc. 
printed in 1537, 1. 1616. So drunken als ein. iniis, F. Holt- 
hausen, Anglia, VIII, 454. 

I am a Flemyng, what for all that/ Although I will be dronken 
other wyles as a rat. Borde, Introdiiction. Wilson, 1553, 
NED. Stubbs, Anat. of Abuses, 1583. You may not say he 
is drunke. . . For though he be as drunke as any rat He 
hath but catcht a fox, or whipt the cat. Taylor, (W. P.) 
1630, NED. Drunk as a Rat, you'd hardly wot That drinking 
so he could trudge it. 1661, NED. It is given as still living, 
but no later inst. has as yet been found. — In the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth cc. a 'rat' was a drunken man or woman 
taken up by the watch (Grose). Whence (in pi.), says Slang, 
d. t.'s, 'to see or have rats'. By way of explanation of the 
sim. Skcat says, "The explanation is very simple. A mouse 
is a small animal, and it takes very little to make him ex- 
tremely drunk. (N. & Q., 5, V, 315). This "simple explanation" 
is so simple that it tells us nothing. Why should the rat or 
mouse be chosen preferably to any other small animal.^ A 
cat is also a small animal, and it would probably take very 
little "to make him extremely drunk". The rat or mouse is 
in English and other lanugages often used as a symbol of 
what is valueless, miserable, or otherwise in a pitiable con- 
dition. We have 'hungry, poor, wet, weak &c. as a mouse 
or rat', and a person in a sufficiently advanced state of 
drunkenness is just as pitiable and as 'wet' as any rat or 
mouse. As opprobrious epithets mouse, rat are used fr. the 
end of the sixteenth c. 
The noise which made me as drunk as an oivl. Walpole, 1764, 
NED. Gentleman's Mag., 1770. Marryat, 1840, NED. "A 
common sim." Elworthy, WSG, 549. They must still be 
drunk as owls. Stevenson, TI, 90. 

As drunk as a boiled ozvl. Peacock, Liji. Gloss., Northall, 
FPh., 13. Daily Telegr. 13 Dec, 1892 (Ware). Sec also 
'tight as sin', p. 194. 
Tight as a biled (or boiled) ozi'l. Ware. — For 'boiled owl' 



— 209 — 

cf. also the following lines 'Never had there been so much 
money in the treasury, nor so much gin in circulation. "Well 
pleased am I with Fukialea'', he concluded. "Have a drink!" 
— "We've got to get out of \.\\\s protito^' Grief whispered . . ., 
or we'll be a pair of boiled owls. Also, I am to be tried 
for arson, or heresy, ... in a few minutes, and I must controU 
my wits.' London, SS, 220. — As to the date of the latter 
form of the sim. Ware says 'Eng.-Amer., 1880 on'. Peacock's 
Gloss, dates fr. 1877, and the sim. is probably a good deal 
-older. Although the unadorned form of the sim. is not found 
earlier than 1764 the association of owl with drinking and 
drunkenness is much earlier. In Beaumont & Fletcher, KBP, 
Old Merrythought sings many snatches of old songs and 
among others the four last lines of the following poem. It 
is in King Hejzry's Mirth or Freemen'' s Songs in D enter omelia, 
1609, (see Chappel, Popular Music of the Olde7i Time): — 

Of all the Birds . . . 

Of all the birds that ever I see 

The owl is the fairest in her degree. 

For all day long she sits in a tree, 

And when the night comes away flies she. 

Tewhit, tewhoo! to whom drinkest thou? 

Sir Knave, to you. 

This song is well sung, I make you a vow. 

And he is a knave that drinketh now: 

Nose, nose, jolly red nose! 

Cinamon, ginger, nutmegs, and cloves, 

And that gave me my jolly red nose. 

But what has brought about this association.? What has 
occasioned the sim..? The earliest inst. perhaps gives some 
sort of a clue. The noise made the person in question 'as 
drunk as an owl'. 'Drunk' in this case must mean something 
like 'stupefied, dizzy, giddy', and the sim. perhaps refers to 
the strange antics and the stupefied unsteady behaviour that 
characterize the noontide owl especially when surprised or 
mobbed by other birds. Cf. They all scornfully wondered 
at me, like so many buzzards and woodcocks about an owl. 
Taylor, SL, 19. (A.s buzzards, widgeons, woodcocks, and such 
fowl, Do gaze and wonder at the broad-faced owl. Taylor, PP, 
7. Narren dr bland aiinat folk so7u Vgglan bland krakor. 
Noctua inter cornices haar Erasmus sagtj ndr han haar velat 
beskrifwa en Gidck. Grubb, 562. The fool is among other 
people as the owl among the crows. Cf. Es ist ein Eul 
vnnder den Krdhen; dat is een uil onder de kraaijen; il etait 
la chouette de la compagnie . Wander). But it is also possible 
that it refers to the washed-out owlish appearance of one who, 
'wakeful as an owl,' has kept late hours over his cups. Cf. 
Why do you look Uke an owl.? Vachell, WJ, 24. His face 
was as vacant as an owl's. Harrison, A, 83. This especially 

14 



— 210 — 

applies to 'boiled owl'. 'Both were admirably made up, and 
Twiss had just the boiled-owlish appearance that is gained 
by working all night in a printing-office.' Ref., 31 May, 1885, 
Ware. Cf. His boiled-looking eyes. Galsworthy, IP, 153. 
Rut this only tells us something about the sense and appli- 
cation of the term 'boiled owl'. 

But if these remarks and considerations satisfactorily 
explain the first form of the sim. there still remains to 
be explained the strange fact that the drunkard is said 
to resemble a boiled owl. No serious attempt at a philolo- 
gical treatment of the saying has come to the compiler's 
knowledge. Of the sim. Ware says: 'Drunk — as a boiled 
owl. Here there is no common sense whatever, nor fun 
nor wit, nor anything but absurdity. Probably another in- 
stance of a proper name being changed to a common or 
even uncommon word. May be drunk as Abel Doyle — 
which would suggest an Irish origin like many incompre- 
hensible proverbs too completely Anglicised.' He goes on to 
quote the following passage: 'It is a well-known fact in 
natural history that the parrot is the only bird which can 
sing after partaking of wines, spirits, or beer; for it is now 
universally agreed by all scientific men who have investigated 
the subject that the expression, 'Drunk as a boiled owl' is 
a gross libel upon a highly respectable teetotal bird which, 
even in its unboiled state, drinks nothing stronger than rain- 
water.' D. T., 12 Dec, 1892. This only shows that the 
would-be facetious journalist knew nothing whatever of the 
subject. Ware, who was a writer of comedies, found a ready 
solution of phraseological problems in his beloved name-word 
theory. A phrase or expression he did not understand was 
a 'corruption' of a proper name; 'dead as a door-nail' was 
a corruption of 'dead as O'Donnel,' 'smithereens', 'Smither's 
ruins' (for smithereen, shivereen, shibbereen, skatereen, kittereen, 
&c. see Eva Rotzoll, Die Deminutivbildungen im Neuenglischen, 
Heidelberg, 19 10, p. 305 ff.), and trivet in 'right as a trivet' 
a 'corruption' of Truefit &c. His explanation of our sim. 
is impossible simply because it does not mention the earlier 
rec. form. 

We must start from the words owl, boiled owl as we 
have them. Although the following considerations offer no 
solution they may be of some interest. — Has any one ever 
heard of people boiling owls.f* Strange to say this seems to 
have happened, as we read that owl-broth in many rural 
districts of England has been regarded as valuable in whoop- 
ing cough (Hulme, Nil, 247). In Tyrol there is, or was, 
a belief that broth in which a magpie has been boiled will 
make him who drinks it crazy (Swainson, BB, 79). Has some 
similar idea prevailed at some time in England concerning 



— 211 — 

the owl? But owls and drinking are connected in a another 
way: "The egges of an owle broken and put into the cups 
of a drunkard, or one desirous to follow drinking, will so 
work with him that he will suddenly lothe his good liquor 
and be displeased with drinking," (Swan, Speailum Mimdi, 
N. & Q., 5, I, 504; the idea is mentioned in Rion, Erreurs, 
Prejiiges popidaires, 1869, see Lean). In Spain it is a popular 
belief that a stork's egg is a certain cure for dipsomania 
(N, & Q., 5. I, 504)- Some other cures of dipsomania may 
be mentioned. "Take swallows and burne them, and make 
a powder of them; and give the dronken man thereof to 
drinke and, and he shall never be dronken hereafter." (Hulme, 
NH, 249). The eating of cabbage leaves is a "preservative 
of the stomache from surfetting and the head from drunken- 
nesse . . . the Vine and the Coleworts be so contrarie by 
nature that if you plant Coleworts neare to the rootes of 
the Vine of itself it will flee from them, therefore it is no 
maruaile if Coleworts be of such force against drunkennesse." 
(Hulme, NH, 47; Folkard, PL, 264; Burton is of a different 
opinion; he speaks of the great sympathy 'betwixt the vine 
and the Elm, betwixt the vine and the cabbage.' AM, III, 
16). There is also some connection, rather far-fetched perhaps, 
between the owl and another specific, or at least potential 
specfic, for dipsomania, the ivy, as is witnessed by the pro- 
verbs 'to look like an owl in an ivy-bush' (Ray), All wonder 
at him like an owl in an ivy-tree (Draxe, 1633, Lean, II, ii); 
I sit like an owl in the ivy bush of a tavern (Middleton & 
Rowley, Spanish Gipsy, IV, iii, 1653, Lean, II, ii). The ivy 
was dedicated to Bacchus, who is represented as crowned 
with its leaves. 'Probably the Bacchanal's chaplet and the 
ivy-bough formerly used as the sign of a tavern both derived 
their origin from the belief that ivy in some form or other 
counteracted the effects of wine. On this point Coles says: 
"Box and ivy last long green and therefore vintners make 
their garlands thereof; though, perhaps ivy is the rather used 
because of the antipathy between it and the wine. . . . This 
antipathy is so great that a drunkard will find his speediest 
cure if he drunk a draught of the same wine wherein a hand- 
full of ivy-leaves had been steeped.'" (Folkard, PL, 389 f.) 
The idea is found already in Pliny. What has occasioned 
the proverb 'to look like an owl in an ivy-tree'.'' a simile for 
a meagre, or weazle-faced man, with large wig, or very bushy 
hair. Grose. 1875, Slang. Do owls build their nests in 
ivy-trees? Cf. the following verses 'Once I was a monarch's 
daughter. And sat on a lady's knee: But am now a nightly 
rover. Banished to the ivy tree. (Swainson, BB, 123; other- 
wise we have Shakespeare's testimony that the owl was a 
baker's daughter). Just as the ivy, which like its berries is 



2 12 

a "potent medicin'' for drunkenness, is the sign of a tavern, 
so the owl, which perhaps hke its eggs was looked upon 
as some sort of specific for dipsomania, may have been used 
in phrases connected with drinking and drunkenness. In 
this case the rendering might perhaps be 'so drunk as to be 
fit for an owl-broth cure.' See 'sick as a cushion.' But 
much depends upon the age of the second form of the sim. 
If it does no go beyond the middle of last c, it may be, 
as Ware seems to suggest, of American origin and belong 
to the class of sim. alluded to p. 94. Cf also Busy as hell 
&c. p. 122 f. and see Ch. VI on American sim. Cf the 
Americanism, boiled crow (Thornton). 

As drwik as a thrush. — This is rather a French proverb. It 
refers to the aleged habit which the bird has of surfeiting 
itself on the juice of the grape in the south of France during 
its temporary sojourn there. H. 

As dnmk as a I0071, Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). See Cra::y, p. 42. 

As drunk as a fish. B. Jonson, A^czv Inn, III, ii, (Lean, II, ii). 
Thou art both as drunk and as mute as a fish. Congreve, 
1700, NED. 

A swills like a vish. Brks. EDD. 
- To drink like a fish. Roget. He's the drinker that verily 
'drinks like a fish.' Hood, 1837. Haliburton, Sam. Slick's 
IV. Saws (Cowan, PS, 98), They say he drinks like a fish, 
and doesn't pay his debts. Chicago Record, 1894, (Cowan, 
PS, 99), See Thristy, p. 190. 

As merry as a grig. — One of the 80 expressions for drunken- 
ness in Gentleman's Mag. 1770, p. 559. See Merry, p. 72. 

As drunk as a fiy. Northall, FPh. — What is the allusion in 
this sim..^ The fly plays a certain part in mediaeval demo- 
nology, and in S\v. att se flugor (to see flies) means 'to have, 
or to see rats'. Is there any point of resemblance between a 
drunken person and a fly.^ 

As drmik as muck. s. Sc. Nhb. — Our parson he got drunk 
as muck. Cum., 1808, EDD. Applied to a drunken man on 
both sides of the border. EDD. Cf. 'wet as muck' Ch. IV. 
Muck, dung, manure especially in a wet state, also anything 
dirty or disgusting. Perhaps of one in the advanced stage 
of drunkenness when he has made a filth of himself The 
drunken filth — that's as mucky as a weet soot-bag. Lan. 
1886, EDD. 

As drunk as soot. Northall, PTh. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 
— Probably a development of the sim. 'as dry as soot', 
meaning 'very thirsty'. 

Fiis Baity, the Baltic. — Cf. To fill him as drunk as the Baltic 
sea. Scott, Peverill of the Peak, xxvii; Nanty I£wart could 
steer through the Pentland Firth though he were as drunk 
as the Baltic Ocean, ibid. Redgauntlet, xiii. Another instance 



— 213 — 

of Scott's way of quoting proverbial sim. See p. 130. '"As full 
as the Baltic' denotes in a most forcible way the extreme 
of intoxication. The phrase is still in use among the sea- 
faring population of the east of Scotland; and its origin is 
evidently traceable to the long-existing trade between Scotland 
and the Baltic ports." Edinburgh. N. & Q., 9, IV, 336. 



CHAPTER III. 

SIMILES OTHERWISE REFERRING TO FORM, 

TO COLOUR, SIZE, THE SURFACE AND 

SUBSTANCE OF THINGS. 

Beautiful, Fine, Gaudy. 

As beautiful as Jieaven [of a face]. Day, Isle of Gulls, II, i6o6, 
Lean. Beautiful rec. fr. 1524. 

As fair as heaven. Beaumont & Metcher, Valentiiiian, I, i 
(Lean, II, ii). Fair, beautiful, already in King Alfred. Ac- 
cording to NED no longer in colloquial use, in lit. slightly arch. 

Should a damsel lovely as an angel enter first . . . Young (the 
historian) quot. Whitby Gloss., p. v. — Lovely, exquisitely beau- 
tiful fr. c. 1300. 

Fair as the Angel that said 'Hail!' Tennyson, 1864, NED. 
Cf. O speak again, bright angel! for thou art/ As glorious 
to this night . . . As is a winged messenger of heaven . . . 
Shak,, RJ, II. ii. Le ciel, ainsi que dit la chanson bretonne, 
etait joli comme un ange. Jean Richepain, La Glue, XI. 

A livery as glorious as neiv Jerusalem. Hardy, Lao. 54. Gloriotis, 
splendid in beauty fr. the 14th c. 

Ripples, currents, deeps, and shallows . . . lay as fair under 
the sun as a New Jerusalem. Hardy, HE, 273. Cf. And I 
John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from 
God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her hus- 
band. Rev, 21, 2. See Song of Sol., 6, 4. 

The count of Hentzau was handsome, liandsome as the devil. 
Hope, RH, 225. Handsome, having a fine form or figure; 
beautiful with dignity, fr. 1590. Beauty is often ascribed 
to the devil, or at least to Lucifer. Cf. Beautc du diable 
(which they say is alvays to be seen at "sweet seventeen") 
parceque le diable etait beau quand il etait jeune. Lean, III. 
And, 'Lucifer with legiouns lerede hit in heuene;/ He was 
louelokest of siht after vr lord.' Langland, PPl, i, 109. Tha 
wes thes tyendes hades alder swithe feir isceapen, swa that 
heo was gehoten leoht-berinde. Homily of c. 1220. "No 
doubt this is all derived from a misapplication of Isaiah 
14, 12." Skeat, N. & O. 

She is beautiful, very beautiful," she suggested. "Do you not 
think so.'" "As beautiful as Jiell!' London, DS, 113. 



— 215 — 

The lilies which are braver than Solomon. Smith, 1593, NED. 
A reference to Mat. 6, 29. 

She was ... as comely as the fcfits of Kedar. Hardy, DR, 336. 
A reference to Song of Sol., 1, 5, I am black, but comely, 
O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the 
curtains of Solomon. — The compiler is told by a person 
who has travelled in Palestine that the black tents of the 
nomads, often mentioned by Bible encyclopedias, really look 
pleasant. 

As fair as Lady Done. Chesh. The Dones were a great family 
in Cheshire, living at Utkinton, by the forest side. Nurses 
there use to call their children so, if girls; if boys, Earls of 
Derby. Ray. "At Utkinton Hall near Tarporley, there once 
lived a certain Lady Done, whose character and manners 
seem to have rendered her very popular amongst the country 
people, and whose memory appears still to be cherished. So 
that, when wishing to praise a woman, it is not uncommon 
to say to her, 'There's a Lady Done for you.'" In Pennant's 
Journey from Chester to London we are told that this lady 
is Dorothy, the wife of Sir John Done, forester and keeper of 
the forest of Delamere, Cheshire, who died in 1629. H. 

Zo fi^ie' s Billy Riike's ivife. Hewett, Dev. 11. Fijie, smartly 
dressed. Billy Riike's wife.?' 

As fine as Forty Poke' s ivife, who dressed herself with primroses. 
A Newcastle comparison. Denham, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 294. 

As gajidy as a fine maid Marion. Taylor, (W. P.) Trav. to 
Prague, (Lean, II, ii). Maid Marian, the character of the 
morris dance, originally performed by five men and a boy, 
dressed in girl's habits. The morris dance seems to have 
lived on till about the end of the eighteenth c. It is alluded 
to by Shak. and many other Elizabethan and later seven- 
teenth c. writers. 

It was my hap of late, by chance. 

To meet a country morris dance, 

When chiefest of them all, the foole 

Plaied with a ladle and a toole; 

When every younger shak't his bells 

Till sweating feet gave fohing smells; 

And fine Maide Marian, with her smoil, 

Shew'd how a rascal plaid the roil. 

Rablet's Cobbes Prophecies &c. (Hazhtt, DFF, s. v. morris dance). 

Churchwardens' accounts and similar documents show us that 
the dancers were decked out very gaily. Cotgrave refers to 
some articles of their costume: — 

How they become the morris, with whose bells 
They ring all in to Whitsun ales, and sweat 
Through twenty scarfs and napkins till the hobby horse 
Tire, and the Maid Marian, resolved to jelly 
Be kept for spoon meet. Engl. Treasury of Wit &c., 1655 (Hazlitt, 

UFF). 



— 2l6 — 

For some further notes on this originally VVhitsun festival see 
Chambers's RD, I, 630 IT, where there is an engraving repre- 
senting a morris dance. It is interesting to notice that the 
ladle mentioned before is in this case carried in the mouth of 
the hobby horse. 

[A good horse] Tayled as a foxe, Comly as a kyng, Nekkyd as a 
duking, Mouthed as a kliket. 1592, NED. 

To go more gayer and more brave, Than doth a lord. 1568, NED. 
Some brave as lords. Jonson, Alch. V, i, 2. Walked about 
as fine as lords. Swift, TT, 66. On Sundays and holidays 
I turned out in a velvet coat ... as fine as any lord in the 
land. Thackeray, BL, i. — Brave, finely dressed, fine, hand- 
some, rec. fr. 1568. Rare in iSth c; in 19th c. apparently 
a literary revival, or adopted from dialect speech. NED. 

As fine as a lord's bastard. Ray. See Proud, p. 81. 

He's as fine as a prince and as gim as the best of them. Van- 
brugh, 1705, NED. 

As fijie as 2i princess. Belphegor, II, iv, 1691, (Lean, II, ii). 

As brave as any countess thou doest go. Cranley, Ania7tda, 1635 
(Lean, II, ii). 

Fine as a col'nel of the guards. 1730, NED, 

As brave as any Pensioner or Noble man. Nashe, I, 173, 1592. 
Pensioner: "In the moneth of December were appointed to 
waite on the kings person 50 gentlemen called pensioners or 
speares . . ." Stowe, Annals (an. 1539), NED. I warrant you, 
they could never get her so much as sip on a cup with the 
proudest of them all: and yet there has been earls, nay, which 
is more, pensioners. Shak., MW, II, ii, 68. 

As smart as a master sweep. Northall, FPh. 

Xofines 2l fiile. Hewett, Dev. ii. Does this refer to the gaudy 
dress of a court-jester? 

Making themselves as spruce as bridegrooms. Hardy, HE, 149. 
Spruce, smart in appearance fr. 1599. 

The parson's daughters are as nice as my nail and as clean as a 
penny, Mrs. Robinson, 1796, NED. Nice, trim, elegant, 
smart, did not outlive the sixteenth c; the prevailing modern 
sense, that which one derives pleasure and satisfaction from; 
a pretty and agreeable appearance, rec. fr. 1769. NED. 

When I put my new smock-frock on this mornin aw felt aw wer' 
as foin as Dick' s hatband. Chs. EDD. See p. 97 ff. 

''Gay as the Kings candle. — A French phra.se, alluding to an 
ancient custom, observed on the sixth of Jan., called the Eve 
or Vigil of the Kings when a candle of divers colours was 
burnt. The expression is used to denote a woman who is 
more showily dressed than is consistant with good taste." 
Brewer, Diet. 505. Gay, showy, showily dressed, fr. Chaucer, 
now rare. 

As fine as Bartholomew babies. Poor Robins Aim., Maj^ 1702. 



— 21/ — 

(Lean, II, ii). Bartholomew baby, a gaudily dressed doll, such 
as appears to have been commonly sold at Bartholomew fair. 
Also applied to a gaudily dressed person. Slang. Cf. Her 
petticoat of sattin,/ Her gown of crimson tabby,/ Lac'd up 
before and spangl'd ore,/ Just like a Bartholomew baby. Slang. 
"It also tells farmers what manner of wife they shall choose, 
not one trickt up with ribbens and knots like a Bartholomew 
baby, for such an one will prove a Holy-day wife, all play 
and no work. Poor Robins Aim. 1695, (Hazlitt, DFF). Men 
. . were dressed up like fantastical antics, and women like 
Bartholomew babies. Brooks, 1670, NED. For these over- 
dressed dolls and the fair in general see Chambers, BD, II, 
263 IT. See Jealous, p. Z^. 

As fine as Phillyloo. Chs. EDD. — There are several notes on 
the word Philliloo in N. & Q., 9, V, 372, 485, from which 
it appears that in Mid-Derbyshire it has the form pillillew; 
in an Irish ballad of 1845 the form is Pillalu, in London and 
Huntingdonshire fiU-a-loo, fillyloo (other spellings as well); in 
Yorkshire lillilow, or pillilew, which latter form is also found in the 
Hull Advertiser, 1796. It means 'neighbours' quarrels, family jars, 
woful lamentation (Irish), a scene or a disturbance of a private 
nature, a jolly row, a sudden blaze or flare-up in a fire; and 
last, any jollification.' It is found in Pembroke and Glamorgan 
as well, and a cor. thinks it must have been in use for at 
least 200 years. — But what is actually alluded to in the 
sim..f' The compiler of the Cheshire Glos. says: ". . the 
meaning of which I am totally unable to explain." 

As fine as a Maypole on a Mayday. Denham (Lean, II, ii). See 
Tall. 

As bug as a cheese. Yks. Bug, fine, gorgeous, spruce, in Yks. 
Lei. Cf. the use of cheese for anything first-rate or highly 
becoming, rec. fr. 1835, Slang. 

As fine as spice. Yks. FDD. Handsomely dressed. — Does this 
refer to the fine and dainty appearance of confectionery, 
one of the current Yorkshire senses of spice? 

He soon spied on the stream/ A dame whose complexion was 
fair as new cream. Barham, IL, 260. Probably a nonce- 
phrase, but see White, p. 230. 

Trig as an apple. Cum. FDD. 

As spruce as an onion. Ray. 

As smart as a carrot new scraped. Grose; Northal, FPh. 11. 
As smart as a carrot. Pegge, Derbicisms, 135. 
As foin as a new scrap' ci carrot, as folks sen. 1879. A com- 
mon expression used to describe anyone who has dressed 
himself up smartly for any occasion. Cf. What with one 
thing or another, I never knowed a married man yet was fit 
to die whereas your cheerful bachelour comes up clean as a 
carrot. "Q". MV. 173. 



— 2l8 — 

Zo butivul and zo piirty like hayjics (beans). Hevvett, Dev., ii. 
Refers perhaps to a flowering bean-field. Like beans see Ch. V. 

Fine as the crusado. Gascoigne's Supposes, 1566, H. Crusado, a 
Portuguese gold coin, mentioned fr. 1544. For further refer- 
ences see H. 

As fi7ie as a ducket in Venice. Chaucer, //. of Fame, iii, 285. 
(Lean, II, ii). This is the earliest inst. of Ducat in NED. 
For the Venetian ducat see ibid., and cf. the term ducat gold, 
of fine gold or brilliant guilding. 

As fine as phippence. Appius &- Virginia. (Dodsley, XII, 384). 
See p. 112. Whilst his mistress is as fine as fippence, in 
embroidered sattens. Wycherly, 1672, Slang. Grim, the Col- 
lier of Croydon, 1662, (Lean); Wesley, Maggots, 16S5. As 
fine as five-pence is her mien. Gay, NS. Pray, how was 
she drest? Why, she was as fine as fi'pence. Swift, PC, 
294. Antidote against Melajicholy, 1749, H. They [the Jews] 
continue to sit 'all of a row' with their daughters dressed 
'all in green', or all in pink or salmon-colour, and as fine as 
five-pence on their ceremonial days. Sala, 1866. Slang. To 
dress as fine as fivepence is to dress very smartly. — The 
ancient Saxon shilling was a coin worth 5d. It was a far 
better coin than those made of tin, lead, and other inferior 
metals. Brewer, Diet. 462. 

There's . . . the lot of 'em all sitting as grand as fivepeyice 
in madam's drawing-room. TroUope, 1857, Slang. 

As fine as sixpence. Poor Robin, May, 1700 (Lean, II, ii). 
As smart as sixpence. Dickens, Oliv. Tivist, W. 

She . . sent her children, 7ieat as nijiepe7ice, to school and church 
on Sunday. King, 1886, Slang. Hewett, Dev.; Northall, 
FPh. Lin., N. & Q. 12, III, 275. See Fasy: Complete, Ch. IV. 
As nice as ninepence. Very nice. Lei. EDD. "Silver nine- 
pences were common until the end of the seventeenth c 
They were often given as love tokens, and I fancy the ex- 
pression "as nice (or as nimble) as ninepence" has some 
reference to this custom." N. & O., 7, X, 315. The allusion 
is most probably to the brilliant appearance of the new 
silver coin. 
As grand as ninepence. Dickens, Mut. Friend, I, ix, NED. 

As cleati as a neiv penny. Antidote against JMelancJioly, 1749, H, 
Clean as a penny drest. Gay, NS. Yks. Der. Nhp. EDD. So 
I will go as I am; for, though ordinary, I am as clean as a 
penny. Richardson, P., 294. The sim. is used of one neatly 
and cleanly dressed. 

As 7ieat as a bandbox. Slang, n. d. Cf. Brewer, Diet. 880. A 
bandbox thing, all art and lace, Down from her nose-tip to 
her shoe-tie. Moore, 1852, Nl^D. 

A' things feat as a neir prin. Per. EDD. She aye gae'd fait as a 
new prin. Ramsay, 1721, Lnk, EDD. /^ri7/,(fait), neat, tidy, 



— 219 — 

pretty. Preen, pin. My ingle she keepit as neat as a preen. 
Nicoll, 1837, EDD. Their mither looks after the roguies/ 
An' keeps them as neat as a preen. Calder, 1897, Bwk., 
EDD. Lizzie proceeded to make the child as neat as a new 
preen. Bell, WM, 57. 

Busk ye trig's a new-made preen. Abd. 1853, EDD. 
Every corner as clean as a new preen. Lth. 1891. — Cf. 
The hoose was shinin' like a new preen. Dmf. 1898, EDD. 
A' things are polished like ony new preen. Lnk, 1838, EDD. 
*^I didn' know th' old Dame Morgan's darter; her was a-dressed 
off so fine, and so nate's a iiew pin. Elworthy, WSG, 504. 
A blue-eyed girl, as neat as a new pin and as smart as a 
steel trap. Seba Smith, 1866, Thornton. Slang. 
As bright as a new pin. N. & Q., 12, III, 116; Slang. 
Nice as a new pin. 'First class'. Sla?ig. 

One day when I came into the kitchen there sat Jack looking 
as smart as a new pin. Emerson, 1893, Slaiig. 
Trig as new pins, and tight's the day was long. Clare, 1821. 
NED. Trig as a new pin. Lin. EDD. Trig., trim or neat 
in dress, smart. NED, 

The galley which he kept as clean as a new pin. Stevenson, 
TI, 41. She was a good cook, and as clean as a new pin. 
Phillpotts, WF, 42. Cf. There's a cabin like a new pin for 
you to sit in — for cleanness, I mean. Jacobs, MC, 145. 

As liandsome as paint. Lean, II, ii. 

K^ pretty as paint. Northall, FPh. 10. Paint, meaning the thing 
that is painted, is a comparatively late word, being rec. fr. 1650. 

Pretty as a painted picture. Phillpotts, SVV. Pretty, having beauty 
without stateliness or majesty, fr. 1440. 

You'm so butivul as a painted picture. Phillpotts, AP, 160. 
As handsome as a picture. Harrison, A, 43. 
'Pretty as pictors.' Alcott, L. Worn. W. Cf. She's a perfect 
beauty — a — picture, a statue, a — a — upon my soul 
she is. Dickens, NN, I, xxvi. She is just like a saint in a 
picture. Benecke, PA, 85. This sim. probably goes back to 
mediaeval times, and the ref. is perhaps to the extremely 
neat and often very beautiful miniature paintings. 

The house is as neat as prifit. Lei. War. EDD. 

As clean as print. Midi. 1896, EDD. EDD renders both sim. 
'in order, neat, clean, tidy.' 

Trim as a trencher. Bale c. 1540. H. 

As neat as ivax. Slang, Brewer, 880. "Certainly the waxen cells 
of bees are the perfection of neatness and good order." ibid. 

He had a skin z.'& fair as alabaster. SmoUet, 1771, NED. Does 
not fair in this case mean 'of light complexion'.^ Difterent 
in the following inst. Thar ben't no good-looking girls about 
now; when I was your age I was fair as aliblaster. Oxf. 
EDD. See White, p. 232. 



— 220 — 

Weeping ful sore with face 2iS faire as silver. Byrd, 1539, ZzVaVr, 
29. See Bright, p. 223. 

You are as proud as a gardener s dog with a nosegay tied to 
his tail. — This prov. is common in Dev., and applied to 
one wearing a flower, especially a large one, in his button- 
hole. N. & O., 6, II, 377. 

A?> Jine as a horse in bells. Jackson & Burne, 595. 

As fiyie as ^fore-horse. Lin., N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 
As fine as a horse. Lean, II, ii. — They took place in the 
wagon (for Chester) and quitted London early on May-morning; 
and, it being the custom in this month for passengers to 
give the waggoner, at every inn, a ribband to adorn his team, 
she soon discovered the origin of the proverb 'as fine as a 
horse', for before they got to the end of their journey, the 
poor beasts were almost blinded by the tawdry, party-coloured, 
flowing honours of their heads. Life of Mrs- Pilkington, 
quoted in Brady's Var. of Lit., 1826. Horse in bells, bell- 
horse: 'Formerly it was common, and even now it is some- 
times seen, that the leader of a team carries a board with 
four or five bells hung under it, attached to his collar by 
two irons: these irons hold the bells high above the horse's 
shoulders. The bells, which are good-sized and loud-sounding, 
are hidden from sight by a fringe of very bright red, yellow, 
and green woollen tassels; as the horse moves the jangle is 
almost deafening. Elworthy, WSG, 58. A reference to such 
bells is found in Hardy, VV, 118, where we are told that 
there "were sixteen bells to the team, carried on a frame 
above each animal's shoulders, and tuned to scale, so as to 
form two octaves, running from the highest note on the right 
or offside of the leader to the lowest on the left or near-side 
of the shaft-horse. Melbury [the owner] was among the last 
to retain horse-bells in that neighbourhood." On a less pre- 
tensious scale, English horses are still "fine" with tassels and 
bells. The leader of the team, the fore-horse, is not un- 
frequcntly referred to in Elizabethan E: A flaunting unsauory 
fore-horse nosegay. Nashe, I, 268, 1592. They wore bee- 
soms of thrift in their hats like fore-horses. Green, Upst. 
Courtier, 1592, NED. Heere Bedlam is: and here a Poet 
garish,/ Gaily bedecked, like fore liorse of the parish. G.Harvey, 
4 Let., Wks, I, 173, 1592. Have I not borrow 'd the fore 
Horse-bells his Plumes and Braveries. Sampson, 1638, NED. 
See also ibid. quot. 1824. 

Mrs. and Miss — han just gone by wi' ribbints and fithers as 
fifie as flying pigs. Jackson & Burne, 595. Cf. the proverb, 
Pigs may fly, but they are not very likely birds. 

Trig as a lennard. Spruce as a linnet. Nhb. EDD. Is this an 
allusion to the fact tliat in summer the breast and crown of 
the cock become crimson or rose-coloured.^ 



221 

As gaudy as a peaccck. Roget. See Protid, p. 83, Vain, 85. 

As gim as peacocks. Thornton. Gim, (jim), neat, spruce, smart. 
The peacock being the most imposing and magnificent of 
birds it is treated as a type of ostentatious display or vain- 
glory. NED. 

She is fairer than the dolphin s eye. A Merry Knack to Know 
a Kjiave. (Hazlitt's Dodsley, vi, 14). The dolphin was often 
introduced metaphorically in descriptions of beauty. Cf. Parting 
day/ Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues/ With 
a new colour . . The last still loveliest. Byron, 18 18, NED. 
See note to Jonson, Alch. IV, i, 160, dolphin's milk. 

Beautifid as a btitterfly, and as proud as a queen. Pretty little 
Polly Perkin of Paddington Green. Ballad, overheard. 
As gaudy as a butterfly. Roget. Butterfly, as a term for a 
vain, gaudily attired person fr. 1605 in NED. 

But he'll dress her as dink as a daisy, as ye see. Scott, Bride 
of Lain., xii. Dink, neat, finely dressed. Cf. the slang use 
of daisy to denote anything first-rate of its kind. 

As brave as Jwlly. Rowley, Shoemaker &c. V (Lean, II, ii). See 
Red, p. 248. 

Emelye J^at fairer was to sene Than is the lylie upon his stalke 
grene. Chaucer. As fair as a lily, as white as a swan. Old 
Song. Northall, FR, 409, Diaphenia, like the Daffodowdilly, 
White as the sun, fair as the lily. Constable, 1594 (Lean II, ii). 

As clean as 7iip. Very clean or tidy, smart. Cum. Chs. EDD. 
See White, p. 233. 

Jaetie who war as smart as a pecny. Glo. 1890, EDD. Smai't, 
neat, trim, neatly and trimly dressed, fashionable, elegant, fr. 
the earlier part of the eighteenth c. NED. Peeny, peony. 
See Red, p. 248. 

And she was faire as is the rose in May. Chaucer, Leg. I, 34. 
As fair as a rose. Phillpotts, SW. As white as the lily, as 
fair as the rose. Northall, FR, 409. From OE till to-day 
the rose has been the type of matchless beauty. See Bright, 
Fresh, p. 225. 

"You'm a bowerly maiden," she said, with extreme frankness. "So 
lovely as the bud dthe briar in June. Phillpotts, AP, 45. Cf. 
As fair as flowers in June. IDunbar, Twa Marriit Wenien 
(Lean, II, ii). Women who are lovely as flowers in their 
June. Phillpotts, P, 31. 

As gaudy as a tidip. Roget. Cf. Beauty, thou active passive III! 
. . <Thou Tulip, who thy Stock in Paint dost waste. Cowley, 
1647. My little blossom, my Gilliflower! my Rose! my Pink! 
my Tulip! Cibber, 1701, NED. 

So faire and fresh, as freshest flowre in May; [of a beautiful 
woman]. Spenser, FQ, I, xii, 22. As fresch as flouris that 
in May vp spredis, Dunbar 1508, NED. 
Fayre as floure in felde. ante 13 50. W. 



— 222 — 

pu art sivethire f)ane eny flur. 1275, NED. 

As fair as any flower. Tennyson, \V. 

Vox flower applied to a person as a symbol of beauty, see 

NED. 'Fair flower' is a formula frequently found in ME and 

early MnE. 'Flower in fields' and similar combinations in 

Spenser and Shakespeare, see W. 

As fine as a Judge in Jllay. Wesley, Maggots (Lean, II, ii). 

As fair as the first look of May. Sheppard, 165 1, (Lean, II, ii). 
Lasses . . . gay as May-morning, tidy, gim, and clean. Ten- 
nant, 1812, NED. May Tresham . . . was lovely as the 
morning of her namesake month, and as sweet. Warren Bell, 
London Mag. 

The king, young and liappy, and as beautiful as the dawn that 
was stealing into the room. Mason, PK, 139. She came 
out to meet me like a queen, as young and charming as a 
flower, and as beautiful as the dawn. Benecke, PA, 85. 

And she is faire as is the bryghte morwe. Chaucer, Leg., Ill, 
277. For though Poeana were as faire as morne. Spenser, 
FQ, IV, ix, 3. Bright as the day and as tlie morning fair,/ 
Such Chloe is . . . Prior (Lean, II, ii). 

And she is fair too, is she not.? As fair as day in Stumner, 
wondrous fair. Shak., Per., II, v, 35. Kate is As fair as 
day. Ibid., LLL, IV, iii, 86. 

A young lady, as fair as the suns/mie, sir. Kingsley, WH, 123. 
The lady . . who they say is as beautifid as the noonday sjin. 
Dickens, PP, II, 164. Cf. All in arms . . Glittering in golden 
coats, like images; As full of spirit as the month of May, 
And gorgeous as the sun at midsummer. Shak., KH, IVa, 
IV, i, loi. 

As fair as the radiant Northstar. Lean, II, ii. 

A violet . . . P'air as a star, when only one Is shining in the 
sky. Wordsworth, 1799, NED. Cf. But harts of Kings are 
showred in the fame, P'airer then Sunne, Moone, Starres, or 
Planets seaven. Arber 29, 42. 

He was painted all over ... all sorts of colours, as splendid as a 
rainbow. Twain, HF, 197. 

Note. The last 15 sim. probably represent only a very 
small portion of the number of sim. in which flowers, ce- 
lestial bodies, and parts of the day are taken as symbols of 
exceeding beauty. See the following Section. 



Bright, Fresh, Shining. 

Go, attire yourself Fresh as a bridegroom, when he meets his 

bride. Dekker, HWh. la, xii. A certain lord, neat and 

trimly dressed. Fresh as a bridegroom. Shak., KH, IVa, 



— 223 — i 

Ez breet ez a bald head. In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 
It was bright as glory and . . . dark as sin again in a second. 

Twain, HF, 71. 
For brighter was the schyning of her liewe Than in the Tour 

the noble i-forged neive. Chaucer. 
As bright as a neio penny. Northall, FPh. — Common, used 

everywhere. Refers to anything that shines, e. g. a copper 

kettle. U. Cf. such slang terms as 'shiner', a coin, especially 

a gold piece, 'shino, shinery', about the same thing, 'a gli- 

stener,' a sovereign. Slang. 
As fresh as farthings from the mint. Swift (Lean, II, ii). 
As bright as a button. Lean, II, ii; Lousia M. Alcott, Little Men, W. 
Ez breet ez seeing-glass. In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. 

Cf. Ideas bright as mirrors and just as unsubstantial. Hardy, 

HE, 19. Seeing-glass chiefly in n. Cy dial. 
Ez breet ez a newinade pin. In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 

241. See the previous section. 
Ez fresh ez pent. In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. You'd 

see it come fresh as paint, without a stone stirred or a course 

sprung, [of a newbuilt bridge]. Phillpotts, WF, 51. [Odo is] 

fresh as paint, [on the Baieux tapestry]. DNL, 5/1 1, '12. 

The sim. is applied to objects and persons that have the 

brightness and freshness of things new and unsullied. See 

p. 219. 
To shine like a goldsmith' s shop in Cheapside. Nabbes, Covent 

Garden, 1638, (Lean, II, ii). 

As golde I glister in gere. WCh, 316. Cf. the proverb, 

'AH is not gold that glitters.' 

Si gode beleave licht and is bricht ine tho herte of tlio gode 

manne ase gold. First half of 13th c. With nales yolwe, 

and bright as eny gold. Chaucer, KTj 1283. In habyte 

gaye and glorious, Brychter nor gold or stonis precious. 

Lyndsay, 1552. NED. As bright as gold. Huloet, 1552, NED. 
Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon. Chaucer. 
The water glittered like burnished silver as it fell to the cobbles. 

Strand, 89, '17. Cf. Thou moon that shinest/ Argent clear 

above. Longfellow, SSt, II, x. 

Out goon the swerdes as the silver bright. Chaucer, KT, 

1750. As bright as any syller, . . & straight as any pyller. 

GGN, II, i. Spenser, FQ, I, ix, 4. Brewer, Diet, 1143. Roget. 

The spade . . . had been so completely burnished that it was 

bright as silver. Hardy, W, 418. 
A burde in a bour ase beryl so bryth. C. 1300, NED. 

As bright as beryl. Coventry Myst. (Lean, II, ii). Cf. such 

expressions as 'beryl of beauty' applied in admiration to a 

woman. See Clear, Ch. IV. 
The last rays . . . shining bright as jeivels. Stevenson, TI, 100. 



— 224 — 

. . . Her goodly eyes like Saphyres shining brigld, 
Her forehead yvory white, 

Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded, 
Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte. 
Her breast lyke to a bowle of creame uncrudded, 
Her paps lyke lyllies budded, 
Her snowie neck lyke to a marble towre. 
Spenser, Epith., 172 fif. 

Tears/ That like to orient pearls did purely sJiyiiej Upon her 
snowy cheeke. Spenser, FQ, III, vii, 9. 

For as the crystal glorious ye shyne. And lyke ruby ben your 
cbekes rounde. Chaucer, 1396, NED. Laomedia like the 
christall sheene. Spenser, FQ, IV, xi, 51. 
The waves, glittering like Christall glas. Spenser, FQ, IV, 
xi, 27. 

Mary, as hryght as crystall stone. Songs, 5. 
She's fresh as foam and crystal clear. Vachell, WJ, 94. 

His heed was balled, jDat sho7ie as any glas. Chaucer, Prol. 198 
And all embrewd in blood his eyes did shine as glas. Spen 
ser, FQ, I, vii, 7. 

With wawes grene, and bright as eny glas. Chaucer, KT 
1 100. Gascoigne, Voyage to Holland, 1587 (Lean, II, ii) 
Pearled tears as bright as glass. Rob. Greene, Never too 
Late, ed. Dyce, 296 (Lean). See also Spenser, FQ, IV, x, 39 

Her face/ Like the faire yvory shinijig they did see. Spenser 
FQ, VI, viii, 37. See White, p. 232. 

Their shooes shined as hrigJit as a slike stone. Nashe, II, 226 
1593- — This is probably no proverbial sim., but it deserves 
to be quoted, because it is w/j-quoted in Lean. He has. As 
bright as a fleck stone, and expl. this as a 'flikestone' — a 
small stone used in spinning. No such word known to any 
diet. The 'slike stone' of the original is the slick or sleek 
stone, a smooth stone with which paper, linen, leather, &c. 
and in some parts the floor were smoothed and polished. 

Is shines like Holniby. Northampton. A comparison that may 
have originated in the glittering appearance which Holmeby 
House presented when gilded by the sun. Miss Baker, North. 
Gl. Cf. Fuller: As for civil structures Holdenby House lately 
carried away the credit, built by Sir Christopher Hatton, and 
accounted by him the last monument of his youth. If Flor- 
ence be said to be a city so fine that it ought not to be 
shown but on Holy-days, Holdenby was a house that should 
not have been shown but on Christmas day. But alas! Hold- 
enby-house is taken away, being the emblem of human hap- 
piness, both in the beauty and brittleness, short flourishing 
and soon fading thereof. Fuller, W., II. 499. Cf. The ironical 
sim. It shines like Holmby mudwalls, i. e. the village hovels 
contrasted with the mansion. Lean. 

As bright as butterflies. Byron, DJ, 3, 27, W. See p. 221. 



— 225 — 

As hryght as bugyl or ellys bolace. Lydgate, c. 1430, NED. As 
breet as a buUace. Folk-Lore, LXIX, 223, ibid., 1876, 429, 
Yks. An e'e 'at's as breet as a bullace. Cum. EDD. A cor. 
of N. & Q., 5, XI, 247 has come across this sim. in the 
form, As bright as buUhus, and asks what 'bullhus' is. In 
one of the replies we are told that a 'bullhus' is the large- 
spotted dogfish, which is called bull huss on the Sussex 
coast. This probably indicates that the sim. is perhaps not 
generally known. 'Bullhus' is of course bullace (Pninus in- 
sitiiia), a variety of the wild plum, or a large sloe. The 
sim. might be rendered 'as bright as a sloe'. See Black, p. 245. 
In Yks. the word is the synonym for what is bright, black, 
or sour. EDD. Cf. also The sparkling bullies of her eyes/ 
Like two eclipsed suns did rise. Cleveland, 1659, NED. 

She was as fresh as a daisy. Marryat, 1833, NED. 

As fair and fresh as a rose on thorn. P. Robin. 1772, (Lean, 
II, ii). There was Fanny, as fresh as a rose on its stalk; 
And Annie, as bright as the dawn. Besant, RMM, 223. 
Her neck schan like unto the roise in Mav. Douglas, 15 13, 
NED. 

Faire Canacee, as fresh as morning rose. Spenser, FQ, IV, 
in, 51. 

She looks as clear as morning roses newly wash'd with dew. 
Shak., TS, II, i, 171. 

I koude walke as fressh as is a rose. Chaucer. Without 
words Sergeant B. smelt the fish carefully; then his face 
shone. "Fresh as a rose!" he said. Phillpotts, AP, 357. 
Slang. See Beautifd &c. p. 221. Red, p. 249, and Sweet, 
Ch. IV. 

As bright as blossom on brere, The Smith and his Dame, H., 
Early E. Poetry, iii, 207 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. An angelle . . . 
As blossom bright on bough. Townel. Myst. 136. 

As fresh as flowers in May. WCh. He had a doughter fresh as 
floure of May. Spenser, Colin CL, 107. Gay, Shepherd's 
Week, 1 714. Fresh as the flowers of Spring. Dickens, L. 
Dor., Ill, 179, W. 

She returned to the great city ... as fresh as a country 
flower. Malvery, SM, 237. 

Fressher than a flower. Chaucer, Gower, W. As fair and 
fresh as any flower. Marriage of Wit and Science (H, Old 
Plays, ii, 342, Lean, II, ii). A complexion as fresh as a 
flower. Hardy, GND, 219. Given a young girl, fresh as a 
flower, young, innocent, not without feeling. Merriman, LH, 312. 

As fresh as meadow in a morn of May. Lean, II, ii. 

Emelye |3at fairer was to sene/ Than is the lylie upon his stalke 
grene/ And fressher than the May with floures newe. Chaucer. 
That fressher was and lolier of arry/ As to my doom, than 
is the Month of May. ibid. And all the ground was strow'd 

15 



— 226 — 

with flowres as fresh as May. Spenser FO, IV, x, ij. Now 
is my Cloris fresh as May. Weelkes, 1598, Lied., 187. In 
Lean insts of 1600, 161 1. Did she look troubled.? Not in 
the least — bright and fresh as a May morning. Hardy, HE, 436. 
Eliza flourisJiing like May. Dekker, OF, 53. 

It was a fine spring morning, and the sun bright as a viidsuvuner 
day. Mason, FK, 34. 

In halle sitte this January and May/ Asfieissch as is the 
brighte someres day. Chaucer, MaT. 

To shine as bright as is the sunny day. Barclay, SJiip of 
Fools, ii, 274, 1509 (Lean, II, ii). .\ rich throne as bright 
as sunny day. Spenser, FQ, I, iv, 8. 

Hir forhead schon as bright as eny day. Chaucer, MiT. Making 
Trueths dungion brighter then the day. Arber, 29, 54. In 
armour bright as day. Spenser, FO, V, ix, 24. That time 
of slumber was as bright and busy as the day. Macaulay, 1832, 
NED. A full moon was beginning to rise ... all would be 
as bright as day. Stevenson, TI, 21. [The candles] each with 
silver backs which reflected their light until the room was 
bright as day. Doyle, R, 138. Twain, TS, 146. Roget. 

She would awake, fresh and hopeful and radiant as the rosy-fingcrcd 
dawn. Besant, RMM, 307. As bright as the dawn. ibid. 223. 
See above. Cf. the Greek pobobdxTuXoc; n^^c;. Faire Marian, . . . 
Whose beauty shineth as the morning cleare. With silver deaw 
upon the roses pearling. Spenser, Coliyi CI., 507. 

Briers, Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood/ As fresh 
as morning de^v distilled on flowers. Shak., TA, II, iii, 199. 
As sweet a face as a young man ever deserved to see. It 
was fresh and clear as the morning dew. Mason, PK, 74. 

To shine as Phoebtis doth on a May morning. Barclay, Cast, of 
Lab.., 1506 (Lean, II, ii). All the walls within of fynest 
golde . . . Glistering as Phoebus orient. Barclay, 15 14, NED. 

Flakes of fire, bright as the S2m7iy ray. Spenser, FO, V, v, 8. Cf. 
The bright metal shining like sumie rayes. ibid. VI, ii, 39. 
As bright as the Sunbeam. Gay (Lean, II, ii). 
As breet ez sun-leet. In daily use. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 
Cf. A satin kimono, shining-red as a sunset's heart and glittering- 
gold as bright as a sunset's fringes. Nash's, April, 12, '17. 
As bright as the sun at rwonday. Roget. 

{jonne scinad da rihtwisan swa swa siinne on hyra faeder rice, 
c. 1000, NED. Hire nebscheft schininde al as schene as J)e 
sunne, 1225, NED. His brydel as the sonne schoon, or als 
the moone light. Chaucer. Cf. And that was yelow and 
glitered as the sunne. ibid. KT, 1308. — It is remarkable that 
no later inst. has been found. 
• Berhtre ^onne se leoma sie sunnan on sumera. c. 1000, NED. 
SeofesiCe brihtre {Dene {^a sunne. 1175, NED. Vp riseth fresshe 
Canacee hir selue/ As rody and bright as dooth the yonge 



— 227 — 

Sonne, That in the Ram is four degrees vp ronne. Chaucer, 
And ye welle me beholde [I am a thousand fold] Brighter 
then is the son. Toivnel. Myst., p. 3, said by Lucifer. 
Her glance is as the razor keen,/ And not the sun is brighter. 
Gay, NS. A most sweet Demi-nun,/ Her cheek pensive and 
pale; tresses bright as the Sun. Barham, IL, 248. 

I have a lovely lemman,/ As bright of blee as is the silver vioonc. 
George a Greene, Dodsley, I, 218. 
• My Soveraine, my deare, Whose glory shineth as the morning starre. 
Spenser, FQ, II, ix, 4. [My beauty] that did then shine as 
the morning starre. ibid. I, ii, 36. 

As bright as doth the morning starre appear/ Out of the East, 
with flaming locks bedight, to tell that dawning day is drawing 
neare,/ And to the world does bring long-wished light: So 
faire and fresh that Lady shewd herself in sight, ibid., I, xii, 
21 Cf. Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear, As 
yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere. Shak., MND, III, ii, 60. 
Hise eyen twynkled in his heed aright As doon the sterres in 
the frosty nyght. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 267. 
As bright as stars in winter. Chaucer, Ct. of Love, 82, Lean, II, ii. 
Let her eyes shine as bright as stars, her neck/ Bloom as the 
rose, her hair outshine pure gold,/ Her honey lips display the 
ruddy blush,/ Let her in all her glory outdo Venus/ And 
all the goddesses, &c. Burton, AM, III, 243. Fr. L.: — 
Candida sideriis ardescant luniina flaniis,/ FundaJtt colla rosas, 
et cedat crinibus aurum,! Mellea piirptireum depromat ora ru- 
bor em; j Fidgeat, ac Venerem caelesti cor pore vincat,/ Forma 
deanmi onmis, &c. Petron. Satyr. Fragm. 

My accoutrements shilling like the seven stars. Hardy, RN, 171. 

Scowres it [a knife] so bright as \he firmament. Nashe, III, 265, 1593. 
Glistering armes . . . That shone as bright as doth the heaven 
shene. Spenser, FQ, V, viii, 29. 

Two burning lampes she set In silver sockets, shyning like 
the skies. Spenser, FQ, III, viii, 7. Then gan her beautie 
shine as brightest sky. ibid. I, vi, 4. 
Two Paynim knights, al armd as bright as skie. ibid., II, vii, 10. 

He hath a sword that flames like burning brond. Spenser, FQ, II, 
iii, 18. Cf. the Dutch sim. Zoo helder, schoon, zuiver, als een 
brand. This is by Stoett, NS, I, 120., expl. as referring to 
the blade of a sword. He quotes the Dutch cp. sim. brand- 
helder, brandrein, brandschoon, and the LG. brandfid, brandbitter, 
brandsalt &c. Cf. the E. bran(d)new, and the dial, brandfirenew; 
the Dutch and G. words must refer to the same thing. 

She hadde hir handes vnder hire sides, and hire eyen glowynge as 
gleedes. 1430, NED. The eyes that beene in his head, ihey glister 
as doth the gleed. c. 1650, NED. To glitter as a gleed, mentioned 
in NED, but no inst, given. See Red, p. 249, Hot, Ch. III. 

A starne as bright as fyre. Toivnel. Myst., 126. 

That limpid water, chill and bright as an iceberg. Blackmore, LD, 40. 



— 228 



Ugly. 

As ugly as the devil. Fielding, Tom TJiumb, ii, 7 (Lean, II, ii). 
Hewett, Dev. 12. Huugi^cz dhu daevl. "This is the usual 
superlative of ugly, and the aspirate forms part of the 
comparison." Elworthy, WSG. See Beautifzd, p. 214. 
He's 2lS faal as the Dule. Yks 1889. Fo2d, ugly, rare in lit. 
use but in many dial, the current sense. NED. 

As iigly as the devil's dam. Flecknoe, Diar., 1656 (Lean, II, ii). 
Devil's dam already mentioned p. 81. The term is rec. fr. 
Langland, and no inst. later than 1783. It is stated to be 
obsolete. Query correct .f* Hey wood has some speculations as 
to the origin and birth of the devil's dam: When was the 
devil's dam create, the withered old jade.?*/ The next leap-year 
after the wedding was first made. PE, vii, 46. But this does 
not tell us much. Milton makes Sin the devil's wife, and according 
to a legend the personage in question was Lilith, Adam's 
first wife. Cf. For God is held a righteous man. And so is 
his dame. A Merry Geste of Robin Hood. (Lean, III). Does 
this refer to Christ and the Virgin Mary.^ The devil has not 
only a dam but also a wife, according to the phrase, 'The 
devil was beating his wife behind the door.' Swift, PC. 

As ugly as sin. Brewer, Diet. 1257. Northali, FPh., 11. As ugly 
as sin and not half as pleasant. Lean, II, ii. Though I am 
ugly as sin, I would not have you think me an ass. Scott, 
1 82 1, NED. Cf. Sin is a creature of such hideous mien/ That 
to be hated needs but to be seen. Pope. 

Handsome as a last year's corpse. Slang. A sarcastic compliment. 

As iigly as an old bazvd. Congreve, 1693 (Lean, II, ii). 

Plain as parritch. Fif. 1899, FDD. Ugly in appearance. This sense 
oi plain rec. fr. 1749. Some of the numerous sim. under Plain, 
Ch. IV, are perhaps also applied to a plain, i. e. ill-favoured, 
appearance. 

As ugly as a horse's head. A sim. for anything shapelessly ugly. 
Som. EDD. 

As ugly as bull-beef. Slang. See Proud, p. 82. 

As fi?ie as an ape in purple. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). Cf. The fayrest 
of apes is fowle. Cf. also the old couplet, 'An ape will be an 
ape, by kinde as they say,/ Though that ye clad him all in 
purple array. Puttenham, 1589, NP^D, and the more modern 
form, 'An ape's an ape, a varlet's a varlet, though they be 
clad in silk or scarlet. Bohn. In Dutch, ' Al draagt een aap j 
een gouden ring, het is en blijft een leelijk ting. Stoett, NS, I, 12, 
where we are told that these and similar sayings go back to 
the Latin, Simla est simia et si aurea gestet insignia. Similar 
sayings in G. 



— 229 — 

No, no, I am as ugly as a bear. Shak., MND, II, ii, 94. Cf. the 

phrase, 'Handsomely as a bear pricketh muscles.' See p. 165. 
As ngly as an ozvl. i. e. blob-cheeked. Skelton, Yin. of Hypoc, 

430 (Lean, II, ii). 
As ugly as an octopus. Cowan, PS, 37. Octopus rec. in NED fr. 1758. 
As fow as a toad. Der. The toad ougly and venemous. Shak., 

1600, NED. See p. 140. 
She would appear ino7'e ugly than a beast. Burton, AM, III, 239. 
Ez bonny ez a sheep-cade. In ridicule. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 

Sheep-cade, sheep-tick or louse, chiefly a northern word. 



Dirty, Lousy, Untidy. 

As dirty as Thump-6' -Dolly, that died of being washed. Lan. Wright, 
RS, 162. Which reminds one of the North-Swedish v/oman, 
who stoutly maintained that she suffered from gout in her left 
foot, because she had washed it two years ago. 

As lousy as a schoolmaster. Puritan I, ii, 1607 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 
MelayicJioly, p. 55. 

As sluttish and slatterny as an Irishzvoman bred in France. Wycherly, 
Plain Dealer, II, i, 1677 (Lean). 

As towzled as a mop. N. & O., 12, III, 277; not in very com- 
mon use. 

Ez dusty ez a flour pooak. In daily use, Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 
Cf. Dustud o'er wi' a fleaur-poke. Lan. 1864, EDD. 

Tha drunken filth — that's as mucky as a weet soot-bag. Lan. 
1886, EDD. Mticky, rec. fr. 1538, not now in polite use. NED. 

As rusty, or mouldy, as an old horse-shoe. Northall, FPh., 9. 

Ez mucky ez a pig-sty. In daily use, Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 

Ez mucky ez a duck pond. ibid. 

As dirty as old Brentford at Christmas. Farquhar, Beaux Strat. 
1707 (Lean). Brentford, 7 miles WSW of London. 

As hozverly as a dog. Lin. EDD. Hozverly, dirty, a Lin. adj. — 
The French say Crotte comme un barbet, muddy or dirty as a 
poodle. Brewer, Diet. 336. 
As mucky as a dog. Lin. EDD. 

As lousy as a pig. Northall, FPh., 9. 

As lousy as a coot. Not. Lin. EDD. Northall, FPh. 9. See Mad, 
p. 42; Stupid, p. 52; Bald, p. 168. 

Scabbed as a ctcckoo. Ray. Ge7itleman s Mag., 189 (Lean, II, ii); 
Folk-Lore Rec. 1878 (EDD). Cuckoo scabb'd gowk,/ Mickle 
said little wrought. Other birds provide for her. Lovell's 
Hist. A?zitnals, 1661, says their feathers come off in winter, 
and they are scabbed. Northall, FR, 271. 

Brambles . . . were dingy as church cobivebs. Hardy, TM, 142. 
Dingy, rec, fr. 1736. 

As mucky as muck. Yks. EDD. Used of dirty roads &c. 

Wery so zvater in zvore. Kluge, 82. Dirty as water in a swamp. 



2;0 



Ragged. 

Slaves as ragged as Lazarus, in the painted cloth, where the 
glutton's dogs licked his sores. Shak., KH IVa, IV ii. Probably 
not proverbial. 

As ragged as a beggar. Clarke. See Di'unk, p. 201. 

As tattered as the Scots colours in Westminster Hall. Howell, 
Century of A^ezv Sayings, 1659, IV (Lean). 

As ragged as a mile-iron. "Explained to me as meaning 'as ragged 
as an iron milestone', because children pelt them and make 
them look rough and dented." Lin. EDD. Why, her gown 
is as ragged as a milestone. Lin. N. & O., 12, III, 275. 

Ragged as a scarre-crow. Heywood, 1637, NED. This sense of 
scarecrow rec. fr. 1592. Cf. No scarecrow in the fields ever 
had such clothes. Besant, 1887, NED. Scarecroiv of a person 
dressed so as to frighten people fr. 1 590. 

As ragged as a colt. Thersites (H, Old Plays, I, 416). Northall, 
FPh, 10. 

Ugly, tatyred as a foylle. Toivnel. Myst. 4. 
As rugged as a foal. Chesh. Gl. 

Rag'udz u raavi, ragged as a ram. At certain seasons of the 
year, the fleece of the ram becomes in a state which makes 
this sim. as apt as it is universal. Elworthy, WSG. 



White. 

There she was, white as death itself. Hardy, RN, 32. Cf. dead(ly) 

white, and 'pale as death' p. 234. Many of the following sim. 

have their exact parallels under Pale, p. 234 ff. 
As ivhite as a ghost. Lean, II, ii. 

As white as my nail. Bale, Kynge John, c. 1550 (Lean, II, ii). 
Whyt was his face as payndcmayn, his lippes red as rose. Chaucer, 

TST, 14. Payndemayn, white bread of the finest quality, obs. 

already 1530. 
As ^v]lite as a custard. Swift, Verses for Fruit Women (Lean, II, 

ii). Cf. White like the white of a custard. 1665, NED. 
He was bri§t so glas, he was luJiit so the fiur, rosered was his 

colur. King Horn, c. 1200 (Kluge, 69). NED insts of 1375, 

1440 referring to persons. In daily use, Blakeborough, NRV, 

240. 
As smooth as glass, as white as curds, her pretty hand invites. 

Gay, NS; The lady turned white as curds an' went in her 

chamber. Phillpotts, AP, 245. 
An Anlas and a gipser al of silk/ Heeng at his girdel, i^'hit as 

morne milk. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 357. A barm-cloth eek as 



\ 



— 231 — 

whit as morne milk. Ibid. MiT, 50. Shee's white as morrows 
milk or flakes new blowne. Sail, 1593, NED. 
A muyle al so whit as milk. 13 . . , NED. Sir Degravant, 
1490 (Lean, II, ii). Then said the Ladie, quhyte as milk. 
Lyndesay, (Kissel), 1550. Two Beares as white as anie milk. 
Spenser, Ruins of T., 562; ibid., FQ, V, v, 2 (of 'sattin'). 
Cowards . . . Who inward search'd, have livers white as milk. 
Shak., MV, III, ii, 86. Ibid. Per., IV, i, 21 (of fingers). Ne%v 
Gistom, II, ii, Dodsley, I, 61 (surplices). Dekker, OF, 69 
(head and beard). Swift, GT, 250 (skin). Down she comes 
as white as milk,/ With a rose in her bosom as soft as silk. 
Sally Water (Song), Northall, FR, 378. Benecke, PA, 169 
(a reindeer). "Q", MV, 232 (a seal). Hardy, Lao. 167 (horses). 

A most inspiritingly young old lady, as soft and wJiite as a potvder- 
puff. Harland, MFP, 315. Potvder-puff, rec. fr. 1704. 

As ivhite as his shirt. Lean, II, ii. They shook, they stared as 
white's their shirt. Housman, 1896, NED. 

A diaper napkin as lilly ivhite as a Ladies marrying smocke. Nashe, 
III, 206, 1 599. Cf. Hire chemise [is] smal and whit, . . . and 
hire smok whit. c. 1200, and Chaucer says, 'Whit was hir 
smok.' MiT. 52. Smock now arch, or dial. 

'Twas five pound in gold, as zvhite as my kercher. Dekker, SM, 47. 

A very old riddle, which is commonly asked in a mocking way 
of very stupid people, is, 'So black's my 'at, so whit 's my 
cap, maggoty pie, and what's that.?*' Elworthy, WSG, 453. 

[The veal] is as brown as a berry, but I should have it as ivhite 
as a napkin. Vinegar & Mu., 23. 

Cyterea, How bravely thou becomest thy bed! fresh lily! And 
ivhiter than the sheets. Shak., Cy, II, ii, 14. When the slae 
tree is white as a sheet,/ Sow your barley, whether it be dry 
or weet. Ray. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. Looking 
as white as a sheet. Scott, RR, xxxviii. Tom turned as white 
as a sheet. Twain, TS, 247; Z(5z^., HF, 347. Stevenson, TI, 62. 
Hardy, WB, 218; LLI, 119 &c. Lyall, DV, &c. 

A face as white as a pudding cleawt. Lan. EDD. 

The laundress will make you both look as zvhite as a clout, if she 
list. Band, Cuff and Ruff, 6. At this Littlefaith lookt as white 
as a Clout. Bunyan, 1678, NED. De Foe, 1722. Macneill, 
1795, NED. In EDD there are some Sc. and n. Cy insts: 
Wi' face as fyte as ony cloot. Kcb. Lth. (1856). Pat ran 
intill t'hoose, white as a cloot. Cum. &c. 

In an instant we were all four as white d^s, paper. Stevenson, NAN, 
271 ... stammered Winfield, and ■ turned as white as paper. 
Cassel's Mag. of Fict., '14, 158. 

As zvhite as ivool. Fuller. 

This hand. As soft as doves-down, and as ivhite as it, Or Ethyopians 
tooth, or the fan'd snow, that's bolted/ By th'Northerne blasts, 
twice ore. Shak., WT, IV, iv, 391. Now innocence must die/ 



As white as untrod snow, or culver doivn. Machin, Dumb 
Knight, III, i (Dodsley, IV, 411). 
As white as a tallow cmidle. Lean, II, ii. His face as white, under 
its tan, as a tallow candle. Stevenson, TI, 92. Tallotu-candle 
rec. fr. 1452. 
His face as white as %vax. Hocking, MF, 122. 
With his hair as tvhite as silver. Richardson, P, 46. Cf. the cp 
sim. silverwhite, rec. in NED fr. 1588. Common in Sw. of 
a man's hair. 
Whose head doth shine with bright hairs wliite as pezvter. 1602, 

NED. 
A head as wJiite as alabaster. Dejuaundes Joyous, 151 1, H. Lyly, 
Euph. One good dish of thornback, white as Alabaster or the 
snow upon the Scithian mountains. Taylor, GE, 14. Her 
dear flesh was allis as white as halablaster. Wor. 1875, EDD. 
The bl is doubtless due to associations with bleach, blanch, 
and other bl-forms denoting whiteness. EDD. Cf. The alabaster 
whiteness of the neck and throat. Doyle, R, 64, and Baring- 
Gould, RS, 126, &c. The numerous effigies and monuments 
of alabaster found in churches may have given rise to the sim. 

Her face and hands as white as the purest statuary marble. Scott, 
W, LXVIII. Miss T. grew white as marble. Mason, PK, 
no. Norris, Jim, 164; Hardy, MC, 143. On Scott and sim. 
see p. 130. Also in G. (Westphalia). Wander. 

A tree fordrye, as tvJiyte as chalk. SqT, 401. Her chekes ... as the 
chalke white, c. 1400, NED. Lady F. was white as chalk beneath 
the paint. CasseV s Mag. of Fid., '14, 236. She was whiter 
than chalk, ibid. Also in Lean, II, ii. Cf also. Gathering 
eyther Violets blew, or Lillies white as lime. Golding's transl. 
of Ovid's Metamorphoses, V. (Shak., WT, ed. Hudson, p. 
184). G. Weiss ivie Kreide. Also in Sw., especially in cp 
form kritvit. 

Hyr vysage zvJiyt as playn yvore. 13 . ., NED. Those hands more 
white than ever Ivorie was. Barley, 1599, Lied., 119. A face 
as white as the ivory of her broken fan. Mason, PK, 135. 

As white as a hound's tooth. Devon. Ass., X, 153 (Lean, II, ii). 
Hewett, Dev. ir. White as dog's tooth with passion she was. 
Phillpotts, P, III. Cf. As white as bear's teeth. T. Heywood, 
Queen Elizabeth's Troubles, 1606, II. 

As white as a lamb. Wesley, Maggots, 1685 (Lean, II, ii). 

Desyre not thy neybore's wyff,/ Thow she be fayre and whyte as 
sivanj. And thi wyff brown. Cov. Myst. (Lean, II, ii). As 
fair as a lily, as white as a swan. Northall, FR, 409. Cf. the 
cp sim. swan- whit in Langland. 

To telle of her Tethe that tryelly were set, Als quyte & quern as 
any qualle ban. c. 1430, Slang. A little mouth with decent 
chin, A coral lip of hue, With teeth as white as whale his 
bone, Ech one in order due. Turberville, 1567, Slang. Her 



— 233 — 

hands so white as whales bone, Her finger tipt with Cassidone. 
Puttenham, PartJieniades, vii, 1579, CD. Herrings which were 
as white as whales bones when he hung them vp, nowe lookt 
as red as a lobster. Nashe, III, 204, 1599. See also Shak., 
LLL, V, ii, 332 (of teeth); Spenser, FQ, III, i, 15 (of a person 
white "thorough fear"). For further insts see Cowan, PS, 38, 
Lean, II, ii, 892, and Shak., LLL, 1. c. Variorum ed. No 
inst. after 1600 seems to be found. — Whale s bone, ivory. 
So called perhaps, because supposed to come from the bones 
of the whale, at a time when the real source of the material 
was little known, or when most of the ivory used in western 
Europe consisted of the teeth of the walrus, confounded with 
the v,'hale. The term was in common use for several centuries. 
Enc. Brit. It is rather remarkable that the sim. should have 
become obsolete a good deal earlier than the term 'whale's 
bone', and that a phrase very common in the sixteenth c. is 
altogether unknown to the seventeenth. 

I have a pleasant noted nightingale,/ Kept in a cage of bone 
as white as zvhale. Barnfield, AjfccLionate Sheph., 1594 (Lean, 
II, ii). See also Niigae Poeticae, Select Pieces of Old E. Pop. 
Poetry, ed. Halliwell. Probably elliptically for whale's bone. 
Totum pro parte. Bone in the following sim. is probably elliptical 
for 'whale's bone'. Pray we that byrde so bright as bon. 
Songs, 85. 
Danny, with a face as zvhite as a haddock. Caine, D, vi. He 
climbed in at the window, and white as a haddock, and all 
amuck with sweat, ibid., xviii. See Deaf, p. 175, Mela7icJioly , 58, 
Latighing, 80, Stupid, 52. 
As white as mazvk. See ///, p. 164. A Lnk quot. speaks of 'creamy 

mawks'. 
And over that his cote-armoure,/ As zvhyt as is a lily flour. Chaucer. 
She was as white as the lily flower, ibid., TST, 155. Beaumont 
& Fletcher, KBP, V, iii. 

An egle tame, as eny lilye whyt. Chaucer, KT, 1320. This 
staff is my sister, for, look you, she is as white as a lily and 
as small as a wand. Shak., GV, II, iii. Her hands, white as 
the lily. Richardson, P, (Introd. XLVI) Northall, FR, 409, 
see 'fair as the rose' p. 221 ... Hardy, DR, 458. References 
to the whiteness of the lily are found long before Chaucer: Seo 
whitnes {)aere lilian scine]D on J)e. Blickl. Horn., 971, NED. 
WJiit was his heed as is a dayesye. Chaucer. See Red, p. 248. 
It soon goes very nice, it washes as zvhite as nip; some people, 
when they see a flower or anything that is beautifully clean 
and white, will exclaim, 'Eh, why, it is as white as nip.' Chs. 
A long stone passage, with a floor as white as nip. Nfk. Also 
Lan. Nip, the herb cat-mint, which being covered with a fine 
white down, has given rise to a common simile 'as white as 
nip'. E. Angl. Gloss. Lean has another version. 



— 234 — 

He was ii'liite-Jieaded as a viountain. Hardy, RX, 8. There are 
numerous phrases in which mountain' is replaced by the name 
of some more or less well known mountain : More white than 
Atlas browe or Pelops blaze. Arber, 29, 42. [his locks] they 
are white as the peaks of Plinlimmon to-day, Or Ben Nevis, 
his pate is so hien poiidrL Barham, IL, 443; Sec. 

Her skin as soft as Lemster wool, As white as s7ioiv 07i pcakisJi 
Jmll, Or swan that swims on Trent. Drayton, ShepJierd's 
Garl., 1593 (Lean, II, ii). White his shroud as the Diotintain 
snozv. Shak., Hamlet, IV, v. Lawn as white as driven snozv : 
Cypress black as e'er was crow; Gloves as sweet as damask 
ro.ses. Shak., WT, IV, iv, 215. Ray; Scott, RR, iv. Hair 
white as the driven snow. DNL, 12/IV, '13. 
As hoary as snozv. Melbancke, Phil., 1583. 
An old man, with beard as zvhite as snow. Spenser, FQ, I, 
viii, 30. Ibid., I, i, 4 (of an ass). III, v, 5 (horse). Lyl}', EupJi. 
(Lean, II, ii; of a flower). Shak., Hamlet, IV, v, 190 (beard). 
Burton, AM, II, 90 (turbans). III, 180 (Juno's breasts). Tatler, 
97 (garment). SmoUet, RR, 156 (teeth). Sewell, 1766 (Stoett, 
NS, II, 270). Twain, HF, ']'] (meat of a fish). Also in Conrad, 
Hardy, Hornung, Stevenson, &c. For another application of 
the sim. see p. 6. Common in many other languages as zvell. 

Horses as ivhite as drip. Cum. 1867. ibid. 1881 of a 'cleeath'. 
Wm of birds, 1877, clothes, 1868. Also in Yks. EDD. Drip, 
snow, used only in the above sim. in Cum. Wm. Vks. Lan. 
There is also a cp sim. drip- white. 'Snow is not now spoken 
of as "drip" in a general way.' Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 

As wilde bores gan they smyte. That frothen zvhyte as foam for 
ire wood. Chaucer, KT, 800. Cf. O'er the foam-white waves. 
1 84 1, NED. 



Pale. 

Stand as mute and pale as death itself. Beaumont & Metcher, 
KBP, V, i. Butler, H, II, 151. SmoUet, RR, 103, 343- 
Gissing, PX, 174. The officer was as pale as death. Doyle, 
Strand, 32, '17. Also in Conrad, Hardy, Hocking, Hope, &:c. 

He was nat pale as a forpyned goost. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 205 ; 
She directed and sealed it, all pale as a ghost. Barham, IL, 
201. She . . . came downstairs . . . pale as a ghost. Hardy, 
TT, 287; HE, 252. Hope, RH, 114, &c. 

Bathsheba, pallid as a corpse on end. Hardy, MC, 350. Pallid not 
rec. before the Faerie Queene, and much aft'ected by Spenser. 
Sick and pale as a corpse. Hardy, PBE, 193. 

As pale as a parson. Northall, FPh. 10. Ruddy sunburnt farmers 
may perhaps look upon the study-loving stay-at-home clergyman 



— 235 — 

as something of a poor pale-face. Or is it a pun or play on 
parsnip? See below. 

As pale as a new cheese. Dekker, Shoemakej^'s Hoi. (Lean, II, ii). 

With hands as pale as milk. Shak., MND, V, i, 329. 

Pale as a deusan. Deiisan, a hard sort of apple which keeps a 
long time, but turns pale and shrivels. Fr. detix ans. The 
Voc. of E. Anglia, i, 92, 1830. Folk-Lore, XXXVII. The 
word rec. in NED 1570 — 1741. 

As pale as a parsnip. Lean, II, ii. "I have heard this applied to 
a person in ill-health, but cannot say where or when. It is 
very little used." U. Cf. The pale or parsnip tint that belongs 
to nephritis. 1897, NED. 

Lord Hamlet . . . pcile as his shirt. Shak., Hamlet, II, i, 81. 

O ill-starred wench! Pale as thy smock. Shak., 0th., V, ii, 275. 

She was as pale as a sJieet. Hardy, GND, 24; ibid., TM, 347, 
TT, 185. 

No Hfe I fele in fote nor hand, As pale as any clout. 1557, NED. 
She looks as pale as any clout in the versal world. Shak., RJ, 
II, iv, 194. His wee bluidless lips were as pale as a clout. 
Lnk. EDD. 

Her lips were, like raw lether, pale. Spenser, FQ, V, 12, 29. 

As pale as a piece of white leather. Nashe, III, 190, 1599. 

Dyan derlyng pale as any leade. Hawes, 1509, NED. Lady Bessy 
(Percy Soc. p. 9); Gascoigne, Didce Bellum, ante 1577 (Lean, 
II, ii). But old folks, many feign as they were dead; Unwieldy, 
slow, heavy and pale as lead. Shak., RJ, II, v, 16. The 
following sim. probably also belongs here: As pale zs 2l pelet 
in Jje palsye he semed. Langland, PPl, V, 78. Pelei (pellet), 
probably a leaden ball of the fourteenth c. mortars. "I don't 
know this [pale as lead] as a saying, but I fancy I have heard 
it." U. Probably only lit. reminiscence. 

On the step of the broad marble flight, stood the Queen, pale as 
the marble itself. Hope, RH, 250. 

Jude was at that moment . . . pale as a monumental figure in 
alabaster. Hardy, JO, 488. 

A countenance pale as a pearl, fair as a flower. Castle, IB, 206. 

Ye were whyte as whale's bone. Now are ye pale as any stone. 
Sqidre of Low Degree (H., E. Pop. Poetry, ii, 50; Lean, II, ii). 

Shee lookt a pale as chalke with wrathful ire. 1587, NED. 

Pale as asshen colde, Chaucer, KT, 506. She trembled off for 
dread/ And looked like ashes pale. Gascoigne, Complaint of 
Phil., ante 1577 (Lean, II, ii). As pale, as wan as ashes was 
his look. Spenser, FQ, II, xi, 22. ibid. VI, vii, 17. A bloody 
piteous corse; Pale, pale as ashes, all bedaub'd in blood. Shak., 
RJ, III, ii, 51. Long Meg, 19. Butler, H, II, 91, Steele, 1709, 
NED. Ghosts as pale as ashes. Addison, 171 1, NED. (Does 
this mean that 'as pale as ashes' is an intensive of 'pale as a 
ghost'?). Poor Robins Aim., 1770 (Lean, II, ii). Scott, RR, 



— 236 — 

xxxi. Besant, RMAI, no. Ashes used poet, for 'deathlike 
paleness', NED. 

As pale of hew as a droivned rat. C. B labors Test. (H., E. Pop. 
Poetry, i, 93, Lean, 11, ii). See Drunk, p. 207 f. 

As pale as a gilly flou-er. Gascoigne, Glass of Gov., IV, ii, ante i577, 
(Lean, II, ii). Gilly-flower, originally Diantlms caryopliylhis, 
according to Britten & Holland, EPN, 204, Not known to U. 

As pale as a carnation. Lean, II, ii. "I don't know this." U. 

Picotee . . . grew pale as a lily. Hardy, HE, 113. ibid. Lao., 108. 

I would be blind with weeping, sick with groans,/ Look pale as 
primrose with blood-drinking sighs. Shak., KH VIb, III, ii, 
63. Cf. The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose, ibid. 
Cy., IV, ii, 222; WT, IV, iv, 142. The yellow cowslip and 
the pale primrose. Milton, 1630, NED. 

So pale as a %vild rose. Phillpotts, SW, 1 50. 

Hor as an hawethoni, Langland, PPl., XIX, 184. 

And pale as box sche was. Chaucer, 1383, NED. He lyk was 
to biholde/ The boxtree or the Asshen dede and colde. Chaucer. 
Also ibid. Leg. II, 161. As soon as Philotimus had read 
these leters, he waxed pale as any box, a shuddering through 
him strake. Melbancke, Phil., 1583 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. The 
wood of box is yelowe and pale. Turner, i55i> NED. 

And there she stood apart . . . pale as a privet blossom in June. 
Morris, 1870, NED. Then pale as privet, took she heart to 
drink. Ibid. 1870, NED. Cf. A skin as clean and white as 
privet when it flowers. Tennyson, 1842, NED. Not known 
to U. Cf. Candidior folio nivei . . . ligustri. 

Her eye-lashes were pale as straw. Phillpotts, M, 41. 

You be wisht and pale as the moon. Phillpotts, WF, 297. Her 
face was pale and cool as moonbeams. Nash's, April, 103, '17. 

He became pale as a summer-cloud. Hardy, WT, 158. 



Grey. 

Her eyen grey as glass. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 152. ibid. RT. 53. 

Shak., TGV, IV, iv, 197. Her eyes are grey as gla.ss. Our 

hairs, which yellow were as gold. Now grey as glass. Gascoigne, 

Grief of Joy (Lean, II, ii). 
Grey as grannunis cat. Swift, Apollo to the Dean (Lean, II, ii). 

Cf. the proverb, When all candles be out, all cats be grey. 

Hey wood, PE; or as Bohn renders it, 'All cats are alike grey 

in the night,' which has a distinctly artificial smack. 'All cats 

are grey in the dusk', says Barret, 1809, NED. 
There's an old Yellow Admiral living at Bath/ As grey as a badger, 

as thin as a lath. Barham, IL, 113. Zo gray's a badger. 

Hewett, Dev. 11. Northall, P^Ph., 8. 'Gray' is a Dev. name 

for the badser. 



— 237 — 

His rode was reed, his eyghen gray as goos. Chaucer, MiT, 131. 
Hir yen i^rey, as is a fauccfi. Chaucer, Rom. R., 546. 
His [eyes] were bleak, and cold, and gi'ey as the sea itself. Phill- 
potts, SVV, 



Dark. 

Note. For exact parallels to many of the following sim. see 
Black, p. 239 ff. 

Each man [among the French] is worth two or three of us, and 
they wear beards like Jews. There are some as dark as the 
the devil. Benecke, PA, 15. English.? 

This cave was also as derkej As helle pitte. Chaucer, Duch. 170. 
A deepe descent, as dark as hell. Spenser, FO, I, viii, 39. 
Sayest thou that house is dark? — As hell. Shak., TN, V, 
ii, 34. ibid., IV, ii, 44, we read, I say this house is as dark 
as ignorance, though ignorance were as dark as hell. — We 
that live here in the vale of misery are as dark as hell. Dekker, 
HVVh, la, vi. Davies of Hereford, Wif s Pilgr., 16 10 (Lean, 
II, ii). 

As dark as Hummer. Yks. Hummer, hell, devil. A. Smythe Palmer, 
Ipth Cent. II, 553, 19 10. According to the Vv^riter, the word 
Hummer is ON Hymir <ihuinr, murky. Although we are not 
entitled to question his correctness as to the sense of the word, 
it is extremely doubtful whether the word originally had the 
meaning assigned to it. Is it not rather identical with the 
word hoomer (homer, oomer, omer, owmer, oumber &c) rec. 
fr. Nhb, Cum. Wm. Yks. Lan. Chs., and meaning i. shade, 
a shadow, 2. a grassy slope by the side of a river, a swamp. 
The first sense fits the context perfectly, 'as dark as (the) 
shade.' If Hummer has any connection with the infernal 
regions it means, consequently, the shades below, to use Byron's 
phrase. If this is correct — and everything speaks in favour 
of the interpretation — Smythe Palmer's derivation cannot be 
correct. Hoomer <C Fr. ombre <^ L. umbra. In most cases 
the word appears without h. That it sometimes has it, is not 
more remarkable than the Sc. and Nhb. hus for 21s. See Black, 
p. 246. 

The night was as dark as Erebus. Marryat, 1839, NED. Cf The 
motions of his spirit are as dull as night/ And his afiections 
dark as Erebus. Shak., MV, V, i, 87. 

When it was just about the bluest and blackest — fst! it was as 
bright as glory and . . . dark as sin again in a second. Twain, 
HF, 71. 

All was dark as the grave. Hardy, UGT. Cf. But use such secrecy 
as stolen Loves should have,/ Be dark as the hush'd silence 
of the grave. Otway, 1675, NED. Cf. Secretive, p. 129. 



— 238 — 

[Villas] rose in the dusk of this gusty evening dark as tombs. 

Hardy, HE, 403. Cf. The great room . . . was still and gloomy 

as a tomb. London, KM, 6"] . 
"'As dark as a sivep's sut bag' , was often heard. This was the 

'bag' which the little 'chimbley-sweeps' put over their heads 

before they began their dismal climb." Worksop. N. & O., 
10, XII, 318. 
As dark as my hat. Lean, II, ii. 
As dark as a boot. Yks. 
As dark as my pocket. Lean, II, ii. 
Daark's, u baig. Elworthy, WSG. 
Dirk was the night as pick or as the cole. Chaucer, MiT, 545. 

'Dark as coal' not found after Chaucer. As dark as pitch. 

Porter, Tzvo Angry Worn., 1599 (Lean, II, ii). Bunyan, PP, 72. 

Barham, IL, 51. Twain, HF, 97. Hardy, JO, 474. Doyle, 

R, 250. Sc. Oxf. Som., EDD. 
As dark as bit. Northants Gloss.; (Bit, bitumen .f* Lean, II, ii). 
So we crept along on tiptoe till we got within fifteen feet of them 

— dark as a cellar that sumach path was. Twain, TS, 223. 
Thrown/ In a down-bed as dark as any dungeon. Jonson, AlcJi., 

Ill, ii, 254. We descended by divers ladders to a space as 

dark as a dungeon. Smollet, RR, 188. Chs. Gl., Ant. EDD. 
A road dark as a tunnel. Hardy, MC, 32. The modern sense of 

this word does not go further back than to 1782. 
As dark as a pit. Roget. 
The night grew as dark as a cave. Hardy, T, 511. 

The park and wood, dark now as a cavern. Ibid., GND, 66. 
On a very dark night the driver remarked, 'Ah! it is a dark night, 

dark as Neivgate knocker. Sur. See False, p. 23, and Black, 

p. 244. 
"Years ago I used to hear folk say of a dark night, when the 

lantern they carried made the darkness beyond all the worse, 

that it was as 'dark as a black shep' ." Th. Ratclifie, Worksop. 

N. & Q., 10, XII, 318. Shep, the shepherd's dog. 
As dark as a dog's mouth. N. & O., 12, III, 116. 
All was dark as a stack of black cats. Catfish Story, 1846, Thornton. 

You will go down, down, down, into the bottomless pit, that 

is darker than a stack of black cats. Dow, 1853, Thornton. 

Used by the boatmen of western America, meaning very dark. 

Pittsburg, Pa., N. & Q., 11, IV, 286. 
As dark as black hogs. Said of a dark night. Suf. VAw. F'itz 

Gerald, Wks, ii, 446. 
'As dark as a black pig a mile off\ is to be heard in Lincolnshire. 

N. & Q., 10, XII, 318. 

Dark as black pigs. Used of a dark room or the street at 

night. "It is a common remark through the county of Devon 

that things at night are as 'dark as black pigs'. Is it an 

exclusively Devonshire saying? I remember once to have 



— 239 — 

heard something very similar in the north of England." Harland- 

Oxley. N. & Q., lO, XII, 268. Cf. the above Lin. saying. 
As dark as a black cozv s skin. Said of a very dark night. Yks., NED. 
The room was as dark as a zvolf's motitJi. Mason, PK, 98. Stovve, 

UTC. Brewer, Diet.; Slang. 
[A long thin face] was of the same colour all over, as dark as 

the darkest walnut. Doyle, R, 224. 
The grand staircase is as viirk as a Yule midnight. Scott, A, 

363. See Bare, p. 255. 

As dark as a Yule night. Dejiham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 90. 

The depths of the barn dark as night. Baring-Gould, RS, 189. 

Also in Lean. 



Black. 

As black as Lucifer. Merry Devil of Edmojiton, 1608, (Lean, II, ii). 
As black as the devil in a comedy. Killigrew, Thomaso, II, i, 2 
(Lean, II, ii). Probably fig. use. 

For shaft and ende, soth to telle,/ Were also blak as fende 
in helle. Chaucer, Rom. of R. 973. The original has, Li 
fist estoit et Ii fer Plus noirs que deable d' enfer. Haeckel, 58. 
Also in modern Fr. Talleyrand is said to have required coffee 
to be noir conime le diable, cJiatid comme I'enfer, pur comme 
un ange, doux comme Vamour. (Lean). 

Black as the devil. Withals, 16 16 (Lean, II, ii). Sir T. Herbert, 
1638, NED. Ray. Such of my servants as have done their 
duty, . . . are painted out by you as black as devils. Richardson, 
P, 262. (Cf. the proverb, 'Devils are not so black as they be 
painted,' found already in Lodge, 1596, and used by Thackeray, 
BL, vii, Phillpotts etc.). His face, all bloody and powder-burnt, 
was black like a devil's. Masefield, CM, 103. Zo black's tha 
dowl. Hewett, Dev. N. & O., 12, III, 274. Lin. 

As black as Old Sains ?iutting-bag. Used in London by an elderly 
lady born and bred in Northamptonshire. N. & O., 9, V, 95. 
Cf. Her smock's leyke auld Nick's nuttin bag. Cum. 1866, 
EDD. 

As black as the devil's nutting-bag. North Lincoln. N. & Q., 
9, IV, 478. Cum. (of something black with soot). Wm. 1790, 
EDD. Berks., N. & Q., 5, XI, 327. Suss. (Folkard, PL, 83). 
In common use about Marlesford, Suffolk. N. & Q., 9, V, 197. 
Somers. N. & Q., 9, V, 38. Cf. The colour of the devil's 
nutting-bag, said of anything dingy or bad-coloured. Northall, 
FPh. 24. "Applied to things much soiled or dirty, which required 
washing." N. & O., 9, V, 95. "Russet cloaks, The colour of 
the devil's nutting-bag." Longfellow, New Englaitd Tragedies, 
Endicott, I, ii. (N. & Q.). No further facts as to the age of 
this sim. have been found. It is probably a good deal older 



240 — 

than 1790, as we find the devil connected with nutting a hundred 
years before that date, as is seen from the following verse, 
which must be founded on old traditions: — 

The devil, as some people say, 

A-nutting goes Holy Rood Day; 

Let women then their children keep 

At home that day; better asleep 

They were, or cattle for to tend, 

Than nutting go and meet the fiend. (1693, Lean). 

The idea seems to have lived on far down into the nineteenth 
c, at least in some parts of England, Lincoln, Suffolk, Kent. 
"When a boy, and Hving in E. Sussex, I remember then on 
a particular day in autumn no one would go out nutting, or, 
indeed, if possible, pass along the lanes of the village, fearing 
to meet the devil. I have frequently, in different parts of 
Sussex in late years, mentioned this; but the devil's nutting 
day now seems to be entirely forgotten." N. & O., 4, IX, 57. 
But the whole matter does not seem to have been taken very 
seriously, to judge from what we read in Haugh ton's Grim 
the Collier of Croydon, 1662, II, i, 'To morrow is Holyrood 
day,/ When all nutting take their way.' And elsewhere in 
the same play, 'This day, they say, is called Holyrood day. 
And all the youth are now a-nutting gone.' But whether it 
was seriously believed in or no, the idea was wide-spread 
enough to occasion the sim. But how has the idea grown that 
mothers should warn their children against nutting on a Sunday, 
and especially on Holyrood Day, assuring that if they do sr), 
"the devil will hold down the branches for them." (Folkard, 
PL, 83). Is it because the devil, a very 'nuthook' or catchpole, 
finds his work of soul-gathering particularly easy on that day, 
as many people go out nutting instead of being at church? 
In one direction the devil is supposed to be very busy on this 
day, according to the Devon rhyme, 'Many nits, many pits'. 
Plenty of nuts means unusual mortality. And further, and more 
directly bearing on our subject, 'If store of nuts this month, 
the proverb's clear/ That it will be a mighty bastard year. 
Poor Robin s Aim., 1687, and 27 years afterwards this is more 
fully explained. This month some maids makes nine months 
after sick,/ When they with men in woods go nuts to pick;/ 
For, being round about with wood enclosed,/ They oftentimes 
are wantonly disposed, ibid. 17 14. The same idea in France 
and Germany (Lean and Wander). It is very likely that such 
things happen, but it is remarkable to find the hazel and its 
nuts connected with love, marriage, and (women's) fruitfulncss 
in other respects. In Westphalia and other parts of Germany, 
a few nuts are mixed with the seed-corn to make it prolific. 
In old Rome, nuts were scattered at marriages, as they are 
now(.^) in Italy and Alt-Mark, and hazelnuts have been a 



— 241 — 

favourite medium in divinations relating to love and marriage. 
Old Germanic peoples seem to have regarded the hazel as a 
promoter of fruitfulness, as, being sacred to Thor, it was the 
embodiment of lightning. Mannhardt, Die Gotterwelt dcr 
Deiitschen, p. 193; Folkard, PL, 461, p. 23. L. c, 83, he 
refers to the superstition that certain trees are haunted by the 
devil. Now, is the devil's haunting the hazelwoods a re- 
miniscence of this ancient Germanic tree-worship? 

As black as hell. In most cases probably fig. use. See p. 7 f. 

Black as Hades. Brewer's Diet. See p. 8. 

Drooping fog, as black as Acheron. Shak., MND, III, ii 357. Cf. 
the Miltonian Under the sooty flag of Acheron. 1637, NED. 
To shrowde her safe from Acheronticke mistes. Tourneur, 
1600, NED. 

Then all was silent, and as black as a cave in Hinnom. Hard}% 
MC, 295. 

Every low-chimneyed house ... as smoky as Tophet. Hard}-, 
WT, 122. "The Tophet" is taken to be the 'fireplace', or 
pyre, the deep pit, dug in the valley of Ben Hinnom, near 
Jerusalem, where the idolatrous Jews in the time of Ahab and 
Manasseh burnt children as offerings to Molech and other 
heathen gods. Josiah 'defiled' it as a part of his reforming 
activity, and it became a place for the bestowal and destruction 
of refuse, and a synonym for Gehenna. See Isa, 30, 33; Jer., 
7, 32. Enc. Brit.; Enc. of the Bible. Cf. The pleasant valley 
of Hinnom, Tophet thence/ And black Gehenna call'd, the type 
of hell. Milton, PL, i, 404, 5. 

It was gloomy there [a path through a young plantation of firs] 
at cloudless noontide, twilight in the evening, dark as midnight 
at dusk, and black as the ni^ith plague of Egypt at midnight. 
Hardy, FMC, 185. See Ex., 10, 21 ff. 

The miller swore himself as black as sin. Scott, RR, vii. (Refers 
to the wellknown idea that perjury will make a person ugly 
or black &c.). Da new tippence-hap'ny paper 'at I hed hame 
frae Derrick wis as black as sin wi' sotwatter. Sh. I., 1901. 
In daily use, Blakeborough, NRY. 

The night was black as the grave. Stevenson, NAN, 317. 

As black as Toby. N. I., EDD. Toby^ 

Zo black^s a sweep. Hewett, Dev. 10. Is this the man or the 
flower, the chimney-sweep, Centaur ea nigra? When the children 
first see it in the street, they repeat the following rhyme: — 
Chimney-sweeper all in black. Go to the brook and wash your 
back; Wash it clean or wash it none, Chimney-sweeper, have 
you done.^ Holland, Chesh. Gl; Northall, FR, 330. 

Blac as a bloaman. c. 1225. Muchele del blaccere jDen euer eni 
blamon. c. 1225. NED. Bloman, blackamoor, obsolete already 
in the sixteenth c. 

Sivart like a tatvny Indian. Lodge, Wit's Mis., 1596, (Lean, II, 

IG 



— 242 — 

ii). Cf. Foaming about the chaps like some wilde boore,/ As 
swart and tawny as an India Moore. Letting of Htimoiirs 
Blood &c., c. 1600, Halliwell. 

He was so angry for it, that he became as black as a moure. Caxton. 
1489. The black or tawny colour of the Moor is frequently 
alluded to, often in contrast to his white teeth. In G. (Wander). 

As sivart as a negro. Withals, 16 16 (Lean, II, ii). 

As black as a nigger. Lean, II, ii. An intensive of this is the 
American, Blacker than 2i funeral of negroes \n 2^ ^Xwxwdi^^x'sXoww. 
Dow, (Thornton). 

As black as ToaVs cloak. N. I., EDD. Toal? 

So black as a bag. Dev., 1887. Cf. Sw. sa nidrkt, svari som i en 
sack. Also in G. Swych wer foul & blacke of syht Lych to 
a colycrs sak. Lydgate, 1426, NED. 

As black as my hat. School of Slovenric, 1604 (Lean, II, ii). Three 
Stumps in her Head ... as Black as my hat. 17 10, NED. 
With his face as black as your hat. 1825, NED. Barham, IL, 
358. Dark.? Why, 'twas as black as my hat. Hardy, MC, 
305. Whiteing, No 5, 182 (of outlandish arrivals in town). 
"When tall black hats were in general use, this expression was 
much in the mouths of certain people describing old port, which 
had kept its colour. Tawny port had lost it." H. A negro 
'as black as one's hat' calling another 'a damned black nigger'. 
Slang. See also 'white as my cap' p. 232. 

Ivy berith beries as blak as any sho. Songs, iiy. What complexion 
is she of.f* Swart, like my shoe. Shak., CE, III, ii, 100. 
As black as my boot. H. 

A Peire of Bedes blak as Sable. Sche tok and heng my neck aboute. 
Gower, 1390. The subst. sable rec. fr. the middle of the 
fourteenth c. 

Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke. Spenser, FO, I, 
i, 22. The Aethiopians seed of generation was black as inke. 
Nashe, III, 62. The blackest news that ever thou heardest, 
— Why, man, how black.? — Why, as black as ink. Shak., 
TGV, III, i, 281. Hood, 1829, NED (of water). His hair was 
still as black as ink. Horning, TN, 19. Hocking, MP, 54 
(mud in the streets). Wells, LL, 52 (trees). Brewer, 139. 
Ink, rec. fr. c. 1250. 

My head as parched and black as any pan. Barclay, Eel. i, ante 
1530, (Lean, II, ii). 

As black as the aister. Shr. My hay was over-heated, and as black 
as the ester. Lei. EDD. — Aister, chimney-balk. Jackson & 
Burne, 594. 'As black as the aister' is a phrase employed 
to express any sooty, grimy appearance. Shr. EDD. 

She wad put hersel into sike flusters, that her feeace wad be as 
black ast' reckon creak. — Reckon creak, a crook suspended 
from a beam within the chimney, to hang pots and pans on. 
York. Dial., ^. 



— 243 — 

[Apples] rot as black as a chimney crook. Hardy, DR, 151. 
As black as the crook. Sc; N. I, EDD. NED. 

As black as the hake up the chimney. — Said of anything very 
black or dirty. E. Suf. EDD. As black as the hake. Cosens- 
Hardy, Broad Nor/., 1893. Cf. in G. Et is sau schwart as 
en Haul up'n Herde. Haid, iron instrument on which the boiling 
pots are hung, i. e. a crook or hake. 

Stock is the back of the fire place, the hob of a grate, frequent 
in phr. 'as black as the stock', e. An. EDD. 

As black as an oven. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 274. 

Real downright negroes, half-naked, black as ebony. Smith, 1878, 
NED. On a pitch-dark starless night, the high-hedged . . . 
lanes of Little Sark are as black as the inside of an ebony 
ruler. Oxenham, MS, 9. Oxenham frequently employs the 
word ebony as a symbol of extreme blackness. Cf also, A 
black expanse, against the lightest tone of which a piece of 
ebony would have appeared pale. Shaw., CBP, 38. Probably 
much older than our insts. Cf. It [the house] hath bay windows 
transparent as barricadoes, and the clear-stores towards the 
south-north are lustrous as ebony. Shak., TN, IV, iii, 36. — 
"Not very common, used by educated people only." U. 

{Dys Ananyas fyl downe dede As blak as any lede. 1303, NED. 
See Pale, p. 235. 

Take oxon younge . . . Theer lippes and their eyen blaak as gete. 
1420, NED. Thy ear white as pearl, thy teeth black as jet. 
Heywood, PE, 244. Slowes black as ieat. Greene, 1589, EDD. 
What colour is my gown of? — Black, for sooth: coal-black 
as jet. Shak., KH VIb, II, i, iii. Elsewhere also of a palfrey. 
Armed in a crimson robe as black as jet. Taylor, GN, i . Their 
small pink eyes as black as Jet. 1688, NED. Smollet, RR, 303 
(stump of a pipe), ibid. 286 of hair. Cf. 'hair of jet' in Dickens, 
NN. I, vi. Cowper, 1784, NED (bramble). Thackeray, BL, vii 
(moustaches). Hardy, MC, 293 (two human shapes). Also ibid., 
T, 253. 

Jjan lai he par so blac so pych. c. 1 380, NED. Her whole body 
became as blacke as pitche. Stubbes, Two Wonderful & Rare 
Ex., 1 58 1. Greene, Menaphon, 1587 (Lean, II, ii); Her twyfold 
Teme, of which two were blacke as pitch. And two were browne. 
Spenser, FQ, I, v, 28. Night-ravenes more black than pitch, ibid., 
Shep. Cal.,]\Jin& 23. Taylor (WP), Sir Gregory Nonsense. Black- 
more, LD, 64 (the night). As black 2A pick. Clevel. Gloss., 8. 

Al blak so colebrond. c. 1300, NED. 

As blak as brond ybrent. Libeaus Desconus, c. 1350, W. See 
Bright, p. 228. 

As blak he lay as any cole or crowe. Chaucer, KT, 2692. A littil 
kyton as blakke as eny cool. 1450 NED. Barry, RA, II, i 
(thy head). Snail, snail, come out of your hole, Or else I'll 
make you as black as a coal. Gammer Gurtons Garland, c. 



1783 (In a reprint dated Glasgow 1866 there is a note to this 
place: — It was probably the custom on repeating these lines 
to hold the snail to a candle, in order to make it quit the 
shell). Northall, FR, 328. Barham, IL, 486 (a person tumbling 
down the chimney). Southey, 1848, S. Wm., EDD. Caine, 
D., 105 (empty net). Aynho on the hill,/ Soulden in the 
hole, And Fritwell wenches as black as a coal. Birmingham 
Notes & Queries, May 24, 1884. A., S., and F., villages in 
the neighbourhood of Banbury. Northall, FR, 58. Conrad, 
Romance, 381 (foliage). Hewett, Dev. 11. Cf. As black and 
burning as a coal. Byron, DJ, IV, 94, W. — Sw. and G. as well. 

We were as black as clinkers. CasseVs Mag. of Fid., '14, 19 1. Used 
of a ship that shows no light. 

Hard as any horn & blakker fer then soot. Lydgate, 1420, NED. 
A berry as black as soot and as bitter. Burton, AM, II, 285. 
R. Brome, Wks, III, 335 (Lean, II, ii). The collier ... as 
black as soot. TJie Coaches' OvertJiroiv, Roxburgh Ballads, 
III, 335. N. & Q., 12, III, 274. Cf. soot-black, soot-dark, NED. 

"As black as a Neivgate knocker. — I heard this expressive phrase 
used the other day by a servant. Is it common.? Does it 
come out of some comedy.?" E. Walford, M. A., N. & Q., 
6, III, 248. It is as black as Newgate knocker. Used by 
a Croydon driver of a dark night, ibid. 298. It is said to refer 
to the fringe or lock of hair which costermongers and thieves 
twist back towards the ear, called a Newgate knocker. Brewer, 
Diet., 139. Very doubtful. Sim. not known to U. 

As black as Byard's dog, or bitcJi. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 274. 

As black as a coot. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). As black as the coot. 
R. Holme, Armory, II, 272, 1688, referred to as a proverb. 

His skin was as black as a bub-craw. Lin. EDD. 

As blak he lay as eny col or crowe. Chaucer, KnT, 1834. Wyclif, 
1382, NED. Lawn as white as driven snow, Cyprous black 
as e'er was crow. Shak., WT, IV, ii. Him, Who giant in limb. 
As black as the crow they denominate Jim. [the devil]. Barham, 
IL, 387. 'Is locks be all curdly an' black as a craw. Pulman, 
Dev., i860, EDD. Nhb., 1870, EDD (of hair). As pale as 
a ghost and as black as a crow. Hope, PZ, 40. Hewett, 
Dev., 10. The sim. sometimes refers to the rook. See p. 245. 

As blake as marygowds and as black as corbies. Cum. EDD. 

Black as the raven s plume. Cooper, Ralph, 3. H. Cf. As eny 

ravenes fether it schon for blak. Chaucer, KnT, 1286. 

Black as a ravens zving. Brewer, Diet. 139. 

Al l^at o|3ur del with-Inne swij^e blak as a rauon it is. c. 1290. 

EDD. His locks are bushy and as black as a raven. Song 

of Sol., 5, II. 

Her hair was blacker than a raven. Swift, Introd. 22 (quot.). 

What, the old red-head that comes singing, as the saying is, 

"Aw, no, woman, but as black as a raven . . ." Caine, D, vii. 



— 245 — 

"My days and nights be black with sorrow." "As the raven 
is black," said J. F. London, FM, 128. The rose is red, The 
violet blue. The grass is green. And so are you. Black is 
the raven, Black the rook, But blackest he who steels this book. 
"Some thirty years ago." N. & Q., 10, VI, 353. Black is 
the raven. Black is the rook. Black is the thief That steels 
this book. "Some fifty years ago." ibid. U. gives this form, 
Black as the raven. Black as the rook. But blacker the rascal 
Who steels this book, ^as (the faven') in this case probably a 
wrong spelling for [az], [iz] (is) as in the other insts of this 
children's rhyme. — Cf. raven-dark, raven-black, and the adj. 
use of raven for glossy black, intensely dark, rec. fr. 1634. 

It was believed that the raven was originally white, but that 
it was changed to black for its disobedience, or discourteous 
behaviour. See Swainson, BB, 92, Hulme, NH, 241 f, Sloet, 
Dieren, 228. 

As black as a rook, As speckled as a pie, I cannot sing no longer, My 
throat is so dry. In a ditty sung by children of Sunningwell, 
Berks, on Shrove-Tuesday, while going round the village, 
throwing stones at the doors, until cakes &c. are given them. 
Northall, FR, 192. 

As black as an ouzel. Chapman, May Day, I, 161 1. Cf. J^e wesel 
be blak among vs; |Dere [Arcadia] {jey beejD white. Trevisa, 
1387. The woosel cocke, so blacke of hew. With orenge-tawny 
bill. Shak., MND, III, i, 128. The water-woosel next all 
over black as jet. Drayton, 1622, NED. 

His bodie being dead lookt as black as a toad. Nashe, II, 326. 
It was a universal belief that the body of a person in league 
with the devil became black. For the toad and its associations 
with demonology see p. 140. 

Ful sam y-pulled weren hir browes two. And tho were bent, as 
black as any slo. Chaucer. Davies, Sc. of Folly, 1614, R. 
Brome, 1632 (Lean, II, ii). Swift, GT, 278, (of hair). A 
bonnie flae as black as a slae. Forbes, 18 12, EDD. Suffolk 
IVds & Phrases, 1823, Folk-Lore, XXXVII. His eyes . . 
were black as slooes. Hardy, Lao., 59. Cf. sloe-black, rec. 
fr. 1773. 

As black as a bollas, bullas. Yks. 1876, Folk-Lore, XLV, 429. 
Cf. Like a bully cooked in soot. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276, 
very swarthy, very dark. 

Blak as bery, or any slo. Chaucer, RoR, 928. The original has, 
plus noirs que mores. (Hackel, 58). So toothless Aegle seems 
a pretty one. Set out with newbought teeth of Indy bone: 
So foul Lycoris blacker than berry Herself admires, now finer 
than cherry. Burton, AM, III, lOO. Transl. fr. Sic dentata 
sibi videtur Aegle,! Emptis ossibus Indicoque cor7iu;j Si quae 
nigrior est cadente moro,/ Cerussata sibi placet Lycoris. Mar- 
tialis, i, Ixxii, 3 — 6. 



— 246 — 

That hair More black than ash-buds in front of March. Tennyson, 

1842, NED. 
His locks, as black as pitcJiy 7iiglit. Spenser, FQ, VI, vii, 43. 

Her hair was black as midnight. Hardy, TT, 7, DR, 389. 

A mane as black as nigJit. Hardy, RN, 331. For other insts 

of the same sim. see p. 58, 104. It has also other fig. uses. 

Cursed Imposter, . . . As blacke in cursed purposes as night. 

VW, 50. To scowl black as night. Hope, PZ, 150. 
As black as thu7ider. See p. 48. and cf also p. 104. Lin. N. & Q., 

12, III, 274. jT 

Black as hunibei-. Number, shade. Cf. Corn does not ripen well 

if it is in the umber. Chs. Gloss. See p. 237. 



Red, Blushing. 

As 7ed as Roger s nose, who was christened with pump-water. 
Northall, FPh. 10. Roger occurs in some other proverbial 
phrases, Roger Cary's dinner, a scanty dinner, Roger's blast, 
and it has an extensive appellative use. See Ostberg, and NED. 

The mark of my fist is on your forehead still. There it is as red 
as a cardinal, while the rest of your face is as white as a 
Pope. Caine, EC, 245. Cf. These in scarlet and caps Like 
cardinals. Southey, 1795, NED. This refers to the red hat 
and the scarlet robe still worn by cardinals on days of cere- 
mony. A cardinal is also a short cloak worn by ladies, 
originally of scarlet cloth. 

Blushing as deep as a inaide7i. Blackmore, LD, 71. 

]De Oder is milcwhite, f)e o6er racd ^Xs^ blod. Layamon, 1205, NED. 
Cursor Miindi, c. 1300, NED. Songs, 16. Barclay, Eel., iv, 
ante 1530; Wager, TJie Longer thou livest &c., 1566, (Lean, 
II, ii); Aromatic cedars — as red as blood. Masefield, CM, 
107. What use were sidelights, when a fog might make a 
headlight as red as blood .^ ibid., Multitude, 82. Hewett, Dev. 
II. Blood-red ix. 1297. 

The carmine of her lips, red as a bloodspot on the snov. White, 
BT, 260. 

I hope to make my hands as red as blood-puddi7tg . Richardson, 
P., 79. Blood-pudding fr. 1583. 

Ez red ez raw beef. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. 

As red as beef. Fielding, Tom TJiunib, ii, 4 (Lean, II, ii). 

As red as z. petticoat. Ray. Sydney, 1531, speaks of a 'scarlet 
petticoat'. 

She has two eyes as black as sloes, and cheeks as broad and red 
as a pulpit cushio7i. Goldsmith, SSC, 243. Pulpit cushio7i fr. 
1631. 

To look as red as scarlet. Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606 (Lean, II, ii). 



— 247 — 

His nose as red as Scarlet. Dekker, OF, 69. Sins (so red 

as Scarlet). Taylor, UF, 20. A face as red as scarlet. 

Smollet, RR, 148. Hardy, DR, 469. See Isa. I, 18. 

BhisJiing like scarlet with shame and concern. Barham, IL, 187. 
Ez red ez a brick. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. 
Flames, like to a furnace red. Spenser, FQ, III, ix, 22. See below 

'red as fire'. 
His long locks colourd like copper-wyre. Spenser, FQ, II, iv, 15. 

Cf. copper-topt, red-haired. 

To bbish like copper. Gosson, Scliool of Abuse, 1579; Christmas 

Prince, 1607; Beaumont & Fletcher, Wotnans Price, (Lean, 

II, ii). Cf. copper-nose. Slang. 
Thou shalt have Grapes ryght as the Ruby red. Ripley, 1471, NED. 
His Coomb was redder than the fyn coral. And battailed as it were 

a castel wal. Chaucer, NPT, 39. Their colour was fresh read 

as the Corall, their beautie like the Saphyre. Coverdale, 1535. 

This refers to the red or precious coral (Corallum rubvum) of 

the Mediterranean. 
As sandy as a Tamworth pig. — Spoken of a red-haired woman, and 

hinting that she was likely to prove concupiscent and prolific. 

Northall, FPh, 10. Tamworth, a market town and municipal 

borough in the Lichfield parliamentary division of Warwickshire. 

Cf. [from his nose] stood a tuft of heres,/ Reede as the berstles 

of a souwes eeres. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 555. See below! 
As red as a Martlesham lion. e. An. EDD. See p. 91, Lion of 

Cotsolde, p. 115, Essex Lion. 
His berd as any sowe ov fox was reed, And therto brood as though 

it were a spade. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 552. Nashe, III, 191, 1599. 

The king, they say, is as red as a fox. Hope, PZ, 22. 
As red as rats. Cor., N. & Q., 12, III, 233. 
As red as 2. ferret. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. Said of people with 

a rufous complexion; also of those who blush suddenly. Lin. 
As red as a turkey-cock' s jowls. Northall, FPh. Jowls, wattles. 

A comforter of red wool, that puffed out under his long throat, 

like the wattles of a turkey. Phillpotts, P, 114. His ears 

showed red as a turkey's wattles. "Q", MV, 191. 

This is not true, said Minghelli, as red as tho. gills of a turkey. 

Caine, EC, 247. 

He looks red in the gills like a turkey-cock. Lodge, Wifs 

Misery, 1596; Congreve, Double Dealer, 1694 (Lean, II, ii). 

His gills are as rosy as a turkey-cock. Dryden, SF, VI, 442. 

The idea . . mantled the blood in my cheeks till I was as 

red as a turkey-cock. Marryat, 1833, NED. Hewett, Dev. 

Roed als een kcilkoensche haan. Fr. Rouge coinnie un coq. G. 

Rot wie ein Zinshahn. Stoett, NS, I, 262. Er ist so roth zvie 

ein Truthahnskopf. Wander. 
As red as a roost cock. S. Dev. H. 



- 248 - 

Looke upon any trumpeter, & see if hee looke not as red as 
a cocke after his trumpeting. Nashe, III, 202, 1 599. 

She came out red as a biled lobster. Barinsj-Gould, BS, I2i. 

As red as a lobster. Nashe, Lenteji Stuff. His face as red as a 
lobster. Mason, PK, 177. — In Dutch, G., and Sw. the crayfish 
is used in the same sort of sim. Roed als een kreeft; Rot 
zvie ein gesottener Krebs; rod soni en kokt krdfta. See above. 

As pink as a prazon. H. 

As red as an apple, as round as a ball, Higher than the steeple, 
weathercock and all. Old Shropshire riddle, referring to the 
sun. Jackson & Burne, III, 574. Children with cheeks as red 
as the apples in the orchards. Thackeray, BS, xxiv. Yoxall, 
RS, 17. 

As rosy as an apple. Blakeborough, XRY, 242, in daily use. 
Her look'd as cherry as a crap of fresh apple-blooth. Dev. 
Cherry, ruddy, Yks. Lan. Dev\ 

Dropes red as ripe cherrees . . fro his fiesch gan laue. 1425, NED. 
Wyne redd as Cherye. 1440, NED. Lean has two insts fr. 
H., E. Pop. Poetry. Ray; Blakeborough, NRY, 239, common. 
Mentioned by NED as a frequent sim., but no inst. given. 
Her lusty lyppes ruddy as the cherry. Skelton, Magnyf., (Lean, 
II, ii). Cf. Showing a colour like a cherry in each cheek. 
Castle, IB, 47. The 'great politician' blushed like a cherry. 
Benecke, PA, 90. (Polish.^). The Germans say 'brown as a 
cherry'. 

Master Marsh thrust out a tongue long, clear and red as a beetroot. 
Barham, IL, 86. 

Red as beet his face was. Phillpotts, TK, 18. Cf. All colours, 
all hues, now advance, now retreat. Now pale as a turnip, 
now crimson as beet. Barham, IL, 473. 

Ez red ez rud. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in common use. Rud, 
ruddle, reddle, or red ochre. 

And here's a flower, and there's a flower. As red as any daisy. 
Northall, FR, 375. Cf. Of all the floures in the mede Thanne 
loue I most these floures white and rede. Such as men callen 
davsyes. Chaucer. Daisies, red as rose, And white also. 
1450, NED. 

There is a double flowret, white and red 

That our lasses call Herb Margaret, 

In honour of Crotona's penitent, 

Whose contrite soul with red remorse was rent; 

While on her penitence kind heaven did throw 

The white of purity surpassing snow. 

So white and red in this fair flower entwine, 

Which maids are wont to scatter at her shrine. 

Folkard, PL, 431. 

A bouncing, fresh-looking lass, whose face was red as the holly- 
hocks over the pales of the garden. Thackeray, HE, 79. 
Wi' a faice az red az a pynat-Jlaar. 1859, Yks. EDD. So red 



— 249 — 

as a piney. Som. 1898, EDD. Your face is as red as a 
peony. Hardy, Lao., 207. He was red as a peony; his voice 
choked. Gissing, HC, 235. 

Aw blushed Hke a pyannet. 1876, Yks. EDD. Blooshen rhed 
as the pinnies oop the walk. 1895, Som. EDD. 

Her cheeks. As red as is the party-coloured rose. Tancred and 
Gismunda, IV, iv, Dodsley. She is mended of her mysse, Her 
rudde redder it is Than the rose is in rayne. The Smyth and 
his Dame. H., Engl. Pop. Poetry, iii, 220 (Lean, II, ii). 
The Sonne that roos as rede as rose. Chaucer, Leg. Prol., 
112. His Hppes red as rose. Ilnd., TST, 15. As rose 
her rode was red. Libeaus Desconniis, W. She began to wexe 
in her visage more rede than a rose. Mel., 213. Then that 
lady, so fair and free, With rudde as red as rose in May. 
Lady Bessy [Percy Soc, 12] Lean, II, ii. Wyde was the 
wound, and a large, lukewarme flood. Red as the Rose, thence 
gushed grievously. Spenser, FQ, II, viii, 39. Your colour, 
I warrant you, is as red as any rose. Shak., KH IVb, II, iv, 
23. [She is] red as a rose. Coleridge, 1798, NED. Kingsley, 
Wat. Bab.,\N. Hardy, RN, 131, TT, 22. &c. Already in OE: 
seo readness jDaere rosan lixef) a Jdc. Mentioned by NED as 
a frequent sim. but no inst. given. It is also in G. and Sw. 
She changed coloure and blussyd as ruddy as a rose. Ld 
Berners, 1532, NED. The arms of Aurora as ruddy as the 
Rose. Burton, AM, III, 180. — How the rose was given its 
red colour, is told in many stories, and some few of them 
are collected by Folkard, PL, 549. 

As red as the rong. Montgomery, Poems, 220, 18 19 (Lean, II, ii). 
Rong, rowan; refers to the berries. 

Rubyes as red as any glede. Langland, PPl, b, II, 12. This cruel 
ire, as reed as any glede. Chaucer, KT, 1139. Twoo firy 
dartes as the gledes rede. Ibid. 1385, NED. The Smyth and 
his Dame, 117; Occleve, La Male Regie, ante 1450, (Lean, 

II, ii). Her cheeks war red as the gleid. Burns, Ladie Onlie, 
1 79 1. See p. 94. 

Yformed as a dragon, as red as Jje fiiyr. R. Glouc, 1297, NED. 
Barclay, 1506 (Lean, II, ii). To blush as red as fire. Udall, 
Er. Apo. (alluding to the andiron on the hearth; Lean, II, ii). 
Cheeks as red as fire. Baret, 1580 (Lean, II, ii). His eyes 
as red as fire with weeping. Shak., JC, III, ii, 113. Eyes as 
red as new-enkindled fire. Ibid., KJ, IV, ii, 163, and KH VIc, 

III, ii, 51. Blushed, as red as fire. Dekker, PW, 207. With 
a face as red as fire. Mabbe, 1622, NED. A face as red as 
fire. Susan Coolidge, Boston, 1887, W. 

Clym reddejted like fire. Hardy, RN, 237. 
Blushing like a little fire. Hardy, TM, 57. — 'Red as fire' men- 
tioned in NED as a frequent sim. but no inst. given. Fire- 
red already in Chaucer and Wyclif. Also G., Sw. and Dutch. 



As red as the rising sun at Bromford. — "As this phrase is well 
known in War., I judge that it alludes to Bromford, a mile 
SE from Erdington, par. Aston juxta Birmingham, where 
there was a mill on the Tame prior to the Conquest. A forge 
mill still exists on the old site. It might be thought to refer 
to some old public-house sign, but of this there is no present 
proof, I am informed". Northall, FPh., lo. 

The face became red as S7inset. Hardy, TM, 301. 

To the Nuptial Bowre I led her bbishing like the Morn. Milton, 
1667, NED. 
Miss Townley . . blushed like the datim. Mason, PK, no. 



Green. 

A nettle gren (as The7neraude), spread In a bed of roses like the 
ruby red. Heywood, PE, 129. A lichenous wash as green 
as emerald. Hardy, \V, 248. 

Also grene as ony leek. Chaucer, RR, 212 (The original has, 
Aiissi vert covime nne cive. Haeckel, 58). His eyes were green 
as leeks. Shak., MND, V, i, 326. Ray. Grass, which, though 
as dry as hay, was as green as a leek. 1727, NED. SmoUet, 
RR, 191 (nose). The hedges and trees they are so green, 
As green as any leek. May song quoted by Northall, PR, 
240. Zo green's lick. Hewett, Dev. 11. — White and green 
were the old Cymric colours, and these colours are found com- 
bined in the leek, which is the national emblem of the Welsh. 
The following lines are from a MS in the Harl. Col. Brit. 
Mus.: — 

I like the Leeke above all herbes and tioures; 
When first we wore the same the field was ours. 
The leek is white and green, whereby is meant 
That Britaines are both stout and eminente. 
Next to the lion and the unicorne, 
The leeke's the fairest emblym that is worne. 

Folkard, PL, 409 f. 

Leekshire is a nickname for Wales. 

All this brass will be as green as tulips. Masefield, CM, 17. 

The duke waxed pale and grene as a lefe. Ld Berners, 1525, NED. 

As green as grass that grew in May Sesoun. Dunbar (Lean, II, ii). 

As greene as any grasse. Fehr, Die fonnelhaften Elcmente 

der alien engL Balladen, 88. Shak., MND, V, i, 326; Clarke, 

Phras. Ptier., 1638 (Lean, II, ii). As white as milk, and 'tisn't 

milk; as green as grass, and 'tisn't grass; As red as blood, 

and 'tisn't blood; As black as ink, and 'tisn't ink. A Dorset 

form of the old well-known riddle concerning a berry or a 

fruit, in this case the black-berry . . See N. & Q., 7, XI, 195. 

(A G. form is, Erst griin wie Klee, dann weiss wie Schnee, 



— 251 — 

dann rot wie Blut, und isst man es, so schmeckt es gut.) Ez 
green ez grass. Blakeborough, NRY, in daily use. 
As green as summer. Beaumont & Fletcher, Valin., ii, 5 (Lean, 
11. ii). 

' Blue. 

He reported prodigious depth of ice, bleiv as a sapphire, and as 

transparent. Evelyn, 1676, NED. The sky . . was as blue 

and clear as the heart of a sapphire. Black, 1876, NED. 
As blue as a razor. Pegge, Anon. 1776, (Lean, II, ii). See Drunk, 

p. 210. 
To look as blue as a whetstone, to look blue with cold. N. Cy. 

It is also applied to one holding extreme Tory views, as blue 

is the conservative colour, in Glo. e. Yks. Blakeborough, 

NRY, 239, in daily use. See Dull, p. 53. 
As bio as lead. Langland, PPl. b. Ill, 97. Townel. Myst.^ 224. 

See Pale, p. 235. 
Pinch the maids as blue as bilberries. Shak., MW, V, v, 43. As 

bleea as a blea-berry. Whitby Gloss. (Lean, II, ii). 

As blue as a wimberry. Chs. Gloss. Wimberry , bilberry. 
Eyes . . Blue as the \A\x% forge t-7ne-not. Tennyson, 1833, NED. 

Her eyes were blue as the forget-me-not. Baring-Gould, RS, 

189. Also in Sw. 
Een as blue's a blawort. Fergusson, 1774, NED. His poor wizened 

houghs as blue as a blawort. 1824, NED. Wi' his dow'd 

nose as blue's a blawart. Sc. Bnff. Abd. Nhb. EDD. Blawort, 

cornflower. 
As blue as salt water. Massinger, Guardian, ii, i. (Lean, II, ii). 
Zo blue's the sky. Hewett, Dev. 11. Cf. The eyes were blue, 

blue as autumn distance. Hardy, PBE, 2. Bluer than bluest 

summer air. Sharp, 1884, NED. 



Yellow. 

Blake as May butter. Cum. Whitby Gloss. See below 'blake as 

a paigle'. 

Each day the gold in the pan shows up as yellozv as butter 

in the churning. London, GF, 161. 
Let his nose be as yellow as saffron. Smollet, RR, 191. Er's a 

pretty washer, her clothes be as yellaw as safifern. Oxf. EDD. 

This sim. probably goes back to ME as we read in Chaucer, 

His heer, his berd, was lyk saffroun. TST., 19. 
A visage as yellow as an orange. Smollet, RR, 18. 
As yellow as a guinea. Ray; Elworthy, WSG. N. & Q., 12, III, 

116. His face was as yellow as a guinea. Galsworthy, IP, 117. 
As yellow as the golden noble. Ray. 



— ^3^ — 

What colours his hose? Yellow, maister, yelloic as gold. Voigt, 
1594. Morley, 1597 {Lied. 126). Three pots of boon beer, 
as yellow as gold. Taylor, TH, 3. Richardson, 1846, EDD. 

This pardoner had heer as yehve as icex. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 675. 

Her hair was as golden as a field of ripe barley. London Mag., 
662, '09. 

As blake as a paigle. Northern. Ray. Yks. EUD. 

Yelloio as a Peigle. — 'The peigle is the cowslip, verbasculmn. 
See Bradley's Country Honseivife, I, 70. I never heard this 
simile or Proverb but in Kent. See Gerard's Herbal, who 
writes paigle.' — Pegge, Kenticisnts. Current also in Ess. Cam. 
"As yulla as a peagle" is said of a sallow atrabilious person. 
Ed. Moor, Stcfolk Wds & Phrases, 1823, 268 [Folk-Lore, 
XXXVII). Paigle, seldom used except in the comp. 'as yellow 
as a p.' Nhp. Of this sim. H. writes, "This is substantially 
identical with 'as black (or pale) as a paigle' ". p. 552. No 
doubt one of his many misprints, as p. 65 he has copied 
Ray correctly. Blake, of a dusky dark colour, livid or yellow, 
of golden appearance, generally applied to butter and cheese. 
On the applications and spellings of paigle, see Britten & Hol- 
land, 365. 

I purchased a hen boiled with bacon, as yellow as the cotvslip, or 
gold noble. Taylor, SL, 12. 

As blake as marigoivds. Cum. EDD. 

The belly of it [the trout] looked, some part of it yellow as a 
marigold, and part of it as white as a lilly. Walton, CA, 24. 

As yaller as a meadow bowt. Chs. Gloss. Meadow bowt, Caltha 
palustris. 

His ugly brown face went as yellow as a straw. Yoxall, RS, 91. 

As yellow as a duck's foot. — Used of the complexion. Lin. 
N. & O., 12, III, 276. 

As yellow as a kite^s claiv. New Forest. H. 

Zo yellow's a kit's fiite. Hewett, Dev., 11. 



Brown. 

Bendicite, fair son! (the baron was as broum as a cigar). Barham, 
IL, 56. Probably also an allusion to the popular belief that 
certain crimes cause their perpetrators to become brown, men- 
tioned elsewhere in IL. 

Brown as a coffee-berry. Alcott, Jos Boys &c. 21, W. 

His palfrey was as broun as enye berye. Chaucer, Prol. CT, 207. 
Gaillard he was as Goldfynch in the shawe, Brown as a berye, 
a propre short fellawe. ibid.., CoT, 4. [The veal is] as brown 
as a berry, but I should have it as white as a napkin. Vinegar 
& Mil., 23. Gay, NS. Here's to the maid with a bosom of 



snow. Now to her that's as brown as a berry. Sheridan, 

SS, III, iii. Dickens, W. Hardy, UGT, 242. Cf. Berry-brown, 

rec. fr. 161 1. 
As broivn as a chesten. Heywood, 1546. Baret, 1580, NED. A 

sirloin . . smells like a beanfield, and brown as a chestnut. 

Baring-Gould, RS, 60. 
Kate, like the hazel-twig, Is straight and slender; and as brmvn in 

hue/ As Jiazel ?27its, and sweeter than the kernels. Shak., TS, 

II, i, 247. 

Knight was brown as a 7iut. Hardy, PBE, 333. Cf. nutbrown 

rec. fr. 1300. 
In the midst of all this, the lamp still cast a smoky glow, obscure 

and brown as umber. Stevenson, TI, 93. 
A poorly dressed old man, as tawny as copper, and as wrinkled 

as moss. Benecke, PA, 165. English as well.f* Cf. Red, 

p. 247. 
John Smith — broivn as autumn as to skin. Hardy, PBE, loi. 

Another of his heroes, Giles Winterbourne in W., Hard}' de- 
scribes as 'white as winter as to clothes.' 



Bare, Naked. 

Ez nak't ez a graav-steean. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 

Yoy can see this island is as bare as a skull. Cassel's Mag. of 
Fict,, '14, 14. Ez bare ez a bald head. Blakeborough, NRY, 
241, in daily use. 

Rio Medio, the dead, forsaken, desecrated city, was lying as bare 
as a skeleton on the sands. Conrad, Romance, 182. 

As bare as my arse. Palsgrave, Ac, 1540 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. It 
is ill begging a breech of a bare-arst man. Heywood. It is 
ill to take a breek ofif a bare arse. Ferguson, 1641. 

As bare as my nail. Fulwell, Like Will to Like, 1568 (H. Old 
Plays, iii, 346, Lean, II, ii). But bare wages (yea, as bare 
as my nayle, I faith). Nashe, III, 6, 1596. 
I would I had her, as naked as my nayl. Day, BBB, 2508. 
Cupid is a god, as naked as my nail. Dekker, HWh, la, vi. 
We . . were led in prysoners naked as my nayle. Mirr. Mag., 
I599> NED. And tho' he were as naked as my nail, Yet 
would he whinny them and wag the tail. Drayton, 1605. Did 
so towse them & . . plucke and pull them, till he left them 
as naked as my naile. Heywood, 1633, Slang. Nares. Lean 
has two insts of 1622, 1630. Obsolete according to NED. 

As bare as the back of my hand. Ray. Unusual, U. 

So bare as the palm ov in 'and. Hewett, Dev. 11. Generally 
used. A cupboard empty of food, a bald head, a destitute 
person are so described. U. 
Robbers who stripped him as bare as my hand. 1853, NED. 



— 254 — 

As hare as my arm. Lean, II, ii. 

He stole me away a fair shirt of my Mothers own spinning . . . 
in the morning when mine Hostis came up to call me, I was 
as naked as your Norfolk-Dnviplbig. Day, BBR, 735. Cf. 
Caiibee, let me nere take purse again, and I think not, but 
thou & this Tom Taivny coat here gulls me, makes me your 
cheat, your gull, your strowd, your Norfolk dumpling, whom 
when you cheated him of his sattin-suit, left naked bed to the 
mercy of his hostess, ibid., 410. Alluding no doubt to the 
tight-fitting skin, like a sausage. H. "I am not certain, but 
I think I have heard this applied to a tree with the bark off. 
It is a very rare expression, and I believe very rarely used 
nowaday." U. — Probably obs. long ago. 

As naked as an egg. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 

As naked as a Strand Maypole. Rowley, Match at Midn.. 1633, 
NED. — This refers to the Maypoles that formerly used to 
be put up in the Strand, when deprived of their ornaments of 
flowers. Was the sim. ever a proverbial one.^ 

Take two strong men, and in themese cast hem, and both naked 
as a nedle. PPl, 1377, NED. See ibid., c. text, XX, 56. 
There syr launcelot toke the fayrest lady by the hand . . and 
she was naked as a nedel. Malory, 1470 — 85, NED. Obsolete 
according to the diet. 

Now he hath right nought, naked as an asse. Skelton, Magnyf.. 
1919 (Lean, II, ii). Naked, poor.f* 

As bare as an ape is behind. Ingelend, The Disob. Child. (H., 
Old Plays, ii, 308, Lean, II, ii). 

As bare as a coot. See Bald. N. & Q., 12, III, 274. 

As naked as a robin. Northall, War. Jackson & Burne, 595. — 
Usually said of an undressed child. — How can a robin be 
said to be naked.? 

Haafe on 'im was bare as a bublin. Lin. 1889. EDD. 

As bare as a bub. N. Lin. Known to C. all his life. "In 
Lincolnshire we boys called young birds when first hatched 
'bare bublins'." Also 'bare bolchin'. N. & O., 5' ^' 97 ^» 
and ibid., 12, III, 274. 

As naked as a gorpin bird new hatched. Teesdale Gloss. (Lean, 
II. ii). 
As naked as a gorpin. Yks. EDD. 

As bare as a bird' s arse. Ray. 

And the arrant knave when I come he will him hide,/ Making 
him as bare as a bird's tail. Jests of Wid. Edyth, 1525 (Lean, 
III). Sec also Poor, Ch. IV. 

As naked as a frog. Beaumont & Fletcher, Fair Maid Src, IV, ii 
(Lean, II, ii). Cf. Whose coat was as bare of nap as a frog's 
is of feather. NED, 1823; and the Dutch term paddebloot. 

That bone's as bare as a bumbee s knee. Lin. P2DD. 

Nakid as a worm was she. Chaucer, RR, 454. The Lord Schalys 

1 



— 255 — 

. . was slayne at Synt Mary Overeyes, . . and lay there 
dyspoly nakyd as a worme. Gregory's Chron., 1467, NED. 

As bare as the birch at Yule Eve?i. Ferguson, 1641 (Lean, II, ii). 
The place'll be as bare as a birk at Yule e'en. Rxb. Hamilton, 
1897, NED. He answered that he was no more a varlet than 
he had the saving grace of god, and that he was as free of, 
as the birk is of leaves at Yool-even. Jamieson. According 
to Lean, the sim. refers to poverty. 

Of all blis let it be als bair as the birk. Montgomery, 1629 
(Lean, II, ii). 

xA-S bare as January. Armin, The Two Maids &c., 1609 (Lean, 

II, ii). 
As naked as night. Lean, II, ii. 



Sharp. 

Note. For other sim. with Sharp see Clever, Crafty, 
p. 27 IT. In some of the following sim. the adj. has a variety 
of transferred senses beside the original matter-of-fact one 

As sharp as an apparitor s nails. S. S., Hon. Lawyer, 1616, (Lean, 
II, ii). Probably only a nonce-phrase. 

§ifer hatte se wyrm, f)e ^a eaglas beo5 naedle scearpran. c. looo. 
NED. Heywood, Fair Maid Sec. 1607, (Lean, II, ii). From 
his fearfuU eyes Two fierce beames, More sharpe than points 
of needles. Spenser, FQ, IV, viii, 39. To look upon him till 
the diminution Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle. 
Shak., C, I, iii. Wesley, Maggots, 1685 (Lean, II, ii). Sharp 
as a needle are her words. Gay, NS. We pride ourselves 
covering an infinite amount of petty miseries, tiny bullyings, 
naggings and prickings with tongues as sharp as needles. 
Besant, RMM, 292. Cf. Portatyf and persant as pe poynt of 
a nedle. Langland, PPl, I, 155. 

His nose was as sharp as a pen. Shak., KH, V, II, iii, 15. 

Her naylys sharp as tenter hokys. Skelton, 15 18, NED. 

And out he kaughte a knyfe as rasour ke7ie. Chaucer, Leg., IX, 
93. Her glance is as the razor keen. Gay, NS. Hys swerd 
that was pesaunt, and cuttyng sJiarp as a raser. Melusine, 
283. The brigge was heigh as a tour And as sharp as a 
rasour. The Legend of St. Ozvain. His little weezen face as sharp 
as a razor. Foote, 1765, NED. The knife gleem'd on high, bright 
and sharp as a razor. Barham, IL, 235. Epigrams that were as 
sharp as razors. Thackeray, VF. Keen and cutting air, sharp 
as a razor. Hawthorne, 1858, NED. It [a toy sword] must 
have been the finest steel and as sharp as a razor. Doyle, 
AG, 328. Cf. also the fig. use o{ razor \n the following quot. : 
These words are razors to my wounded heart. Shak., TA, 
I, i, 314. The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen As 



- 256 - 

is the razor's edge invisible, Cutting a smaller hair than may 
be seen, ibid., LLL, V, ii, 256. The man's jokes cut like 
a razor. Phillpotts, TK, 18. 

As sharp as a knife. Barclay, Ship of F., 1509, see p. 32. 

As sJiarp as a dart. Barclay, SJiip of F., 1509 (Lean, II, ii). 
That . . . soul-ravishing, and captivating beauty, which, as one 
saith, is sharper than any dart or needle. Burton, AM, III, 73. 

My word from hens forthe, is scJiarp and bytyng as a Sivcrd. 
Maundeville, c. 1400, NED. Slander, Whose sting is sharper 
than the sword's. Shak., WT, II, iii, 85. Pens are most 
dangerous tools, more sharp by odds than swords. Taylor, 
ST, 34. God hath delivered a law as sharp as a twoedged 
sword. Enc. London, 181 1 (N. & 0., 7, V, 252). See Heb., 
4, 12. 

A gay daggere,/ Harneised wel, and sharp as pohit of spere. 
Chaucer, Prol. CT, 114. See p. 32. — The following passages 
are of interest as illustrating the fig. use of sharp, keen in 
connection with edge-tools: Thou makest thy knife keen, but 
no metal can, No, not the hangman's axe, bear half the keen- 
ness of thy sharp envy. Shak., MV, IV, i, 124. My desire, 
More sharp than filed steel, did spur me forth, ibid., TN, 
III, iii, 4. 

^Vs sharp as a handsazv. Heywod; Peacham, 1640, (Lean, II, ii). 

Sharp as a sickle is the edge of shade and shine. Meredith, 185 1. 
NED. 

Each black nail was sharp as an eagle's claw. Phillpotts, AP, 459. 

With thicke bristlis on his berd unsofte, Lyk to the skyn of hound- 
fisch scharp as brere. Chaucer, MaT. 580. Cf. Summer, When 
Briars shall haue leaues as well as thornes And be as sweet 
as sharpe. Shak., AW, IV, iv, 32. See Clever 8zc. p. 35, 
and Rough, p. 258. 

As sharp as a thorn. Heywood. (Lean, II, ii). The children yet 
unborn Shall feel this day as sharp to them as thorn. Shak., 
KR, II, IV, i, 323. Ray. Cf The best of them is as a briar: 
the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge. Mic, 7, 4; 
and. Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too 
boisterous, and it pricks like thorn. Shak., RJ, I, iv, 26. 

I have oone [a wife], to my fere, As sJiarp as a tJiystylle, as rough 
as a brere. And she is browyd lyke a brystylle. Totvriel. 
My St., 100. 

As sharp as a winter s morning. Bp Corbet, It. Bar., 1672, (Lean, 
II, ii). 

Dropping apostrophes sharp as Jiail upon fools who could not help 
themselves. Castle, IB, 271. 

A fear sJiarp as frost. Hardy, TT, 279. 

As sharp as the %vind. Tojii Tyler &c., 1598, (Lean, II, ii). 



257 — 



Rough. 

Note. For sim. referring to rough behaviour, see p. io6, 107. 

Beneath a tuft of bristles As rough as ^frieze-jerki7i. Butler, H, III, 
142. No cp. frieze-jerkin in NED. But the roughness of frieze 
is not unfrequently referred to. And cf. lohn nagle sent me 
ffrize for a lerkin. Sir R, Boyle, 16 16, NED. 

Let her not live to be the mistress of A farmer's heir, and be 
confined ever To a serge, far coarser than my Jiorse-cloth. 
Beaumont & Fletcher, NG, I, ii. 

As rough as a tinker s budget. Ray. Just as the tinker himself 
has entered largely into English proverbial phraseology, all that 
belongs to him has followed suit. See p. 200. Tinker's budget 
may mean stale news, but 'Tinkers may have leave to live 
And bear the sow-skin budget.' (Shak., WT, IV, iii; cf. A 
dogskin hairy budget. Stf. EDD). Even if 'a tinker's budget's 
full of necessary tools' (H), he is not always likely to enjoy 
them, according to the old saying 'Yer mun wait while yer 
get it, like the tinker an' 'is budget', which was often in pawn 
for board and lodging ( S. Not., EDD). It was mentioned 
already by Nashe: Where had this brable his first beginning 
but in . . . the tynkers budget, the Taylors sheares, and the 
shepheardes Tarboxe.? (Nashe, I, ']']). See also Slang, s. v. 
budget, Harman, 1567. 

Rough as a nutmeg grater. Brewer, Diet., 1135. 

People . . . muche like vnto dogges, with mouthes roughe like a 
grater. Watreman, 1555, NED. Zo rough's a grater. Hewett, 
Dev. 12. My throat's as rough as a grater. Hardy, TT, 21. 

Es pricky ez a pricky-backed otch'n. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in 
daily use. Pricky, prickly in dial, use fr. Sc. to Ken. Pricky- 
back-urchin, hedge-hog. As rough as the back of a hedgehog. 
Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). Hedgehog, rec. in NED fr. 1450. — 
"The little Hiricion, with his sharpe pykes, is almost the least 
of all other Beastes. And of vs Englishmen he is termed an 
Irchin or Urcheon, a beast so called for the roughness and 
sharpnesse of his pykes, which nature hath giuen him in steade 
of haire". Bossewell, Wks of Arniorie, c. 1580 (Hulme, NH, 
169). G. Rauher als ein I gel. Wander. 

As rough as a badger s back. N. & O., 4, VI, 321. Rough as a 
badger, ibid. 12, III, 275. 

As rough as Babby 'ood gorst. — Babbin's Wood is in the parish 
of Whittington. Shr. Jackson & Burne, 595. See p. 107, 'as 
coarse, rough as Hickling gorse.' Some of the other sim. with 
'coarse' are perhaps also used of the rough surface of things. 

As hask as sazvcuin. Hask, arsk, northern form of harsh, in gen. 
dial, use in Sc. Eng. Irel., rec. fr. 1440, the sense rough to 
touch and taste chiefly Sc. and N. Cy. Sawkuni, sawdust. Yks. 

17 



— 258 — 

As hask as chopped hay. Used of 'hask' bread. Coarse or rough 
or harsh to the senses of taste and touch; the coarseness or 
harshness of too great dryness as well as austerity or rough- 
ness of taste being included. Whitby Gloss. (Cievel. Gloss.). 

[A wife] As sharp as a thystylle, as rough as a hrere,l She is 
browyd like a brystylle, with a soure, loten chere. Totvnel. 
My St., p. lOO. 

Ilys eares a mgged as burres. Heywood, 1547, NED. 

Passages as craggy as the Alps. VVV, 58. 



Hard. 

Note. For some other sim. with Hard see Hard-hearted,. 
Cruel, p. 87 fif. and Healthy, Hardy, p. 151 ff. The applica- 
tion of many of the following sim. does not appear from the 
sources. 

As hard as the devil's forehead. N. & Q., 9, IV, 478. Lin. 

As hard as the devil's nagnails. Northall, FPh. 9. (N)agnail, 'a 
little corne vpon a toe'. Cotgrave, NED. 

. . . Those that made me were uncivil, 

For they made me harder than the devil; 
Knives won't cut me, fire won't sweat me, 
Dogs bark at me, but can't eat me!" These proverbial lines 
are supposed to be spoken by a Suffolk cheese, which is so 
hard that a myth tells us gate pegs in that country are made 
of it. The proverb has been long true, and Pepys, writing 
in 1691, says, "I found my wife vexed at her people for 
grumbling to eate Suffolk cheese, which I also am vexed at." 
H. Ray has the proverb, 'Hunger will break through stone 
walls, or any thing, except Suffolk cheese,' and by way of 
explanation he adds, 'Suffolk cheese, from its poverty, is fre- 
quently the subject of much humour.' Suffolk cheese mentioned 
already by P"uller, who speaks very highly of it. (Fuller, W, 
III, 151). 

Her hand/ In whose comparison all whites are ink,/ Writing their 
own reproach, to whose soft seizure/ The cygnet's down is 
harsh and spirit of sense/ Hard as the palm of plotighman. 
Shak., TC, I, i. 

As hard as brawn. Brewer, Diet. 580. Brawn, probably hardened 
skin, although of this sense NED has no inst. later than 1639. 
The adj. brawny, 'having a hardened skin', seems to be still 
in use. 

As hard as an egg at Easter. Denham. Cf. As bashful as an 
egg at Easter, ibid. The Easter eggs were to be hard-boiled, 
and at Chester at least so hard that they could be played 
with by the boys as balls. (Chambers, BD, I, 425, 9.) But 



— 259 — 

how could they be looked upon as 'bashful'? Perhaps it is 
ironical, as these eggs, being coloured with red, blue, or violet 
dyes, with inscriptions and landscapes traced upon them, must 
have been regarded as very gay or proud, in the sense of 
fine or splendid. C(. As proud as a gardener's dog &c. p. 
220, and see Modest, Bashful, p. 66. 

As hard as Severn salmon dried in Wales. N. W., Nupt. Dial., 
I, xiii, 1 7 10. Authorities consulted know nothing of salmon 
caught in the Severn. 

[Make my hands] as hard as a beecJien trencher. Richardson, P, 79. 
As the article itself is now found chiefly at museums, the sim., 
if it ever was a current one, must have dropped out of use. 

As hard as a tabber. Northall, FPh. 9. Tabber, tabour. This 
form rec. fr. 1587 and still current in some Midi. Counties. 
The pipe and tabour, for a long time very popular throughout 
Europe, are now obsolete in England. NED. 

A hand as hard as a table. Kingsley, Wat. Bab., W. 

As hard as a deal board. Lean, II, ii. 

Table cloths folded square and hard as boards. Hardy, UGT, 
133. The muscles are as hard as a board. Doyle, SF, loi. 

I thought that Jack had bin as hard as brazzil. 1854, Yks. EDD. 
It forehead is as hard as brazzil. Yks. The ground is as 
hard as brazil. Lin. N. & Q. 12, III, 275. That fellow's 
head is as hard as brazil. Mtg. Chs. Stf. Lan. Wilts. 'As 
hard as brazzin' is often heard in the neighbourhood of Middle- 
wich. Chs. Also in Shr. 'As hard as brazil' is a common 
saying over a great part, perhaps the whole, of England. NED. 
There has been some discussion as to the meaning of 
the word brazil, brazziyt. Miss Jackson, in her Shropshire Word 
Book, explains brazzin as iron pyrites. This sense of the word 
is rec. fr. 1747. It means also coals containing much pyrites; 
specially applied to the 'middle seam of the Great Thick Coal 
of South Staffordshire, which is characterized by the unfailing 
presence of iron pyrites, and has been locally known as Brazzles 
from time immemorial; hence transferred to other hard coal 
of a similar character.' Prof. Lapworth (NED). The existence 
of the sim in Stf. may seem to speak in favour of this inter- 
pretation of the subst. Leigh, in his Cheshire Gloss, explains 
it as referring to a brazil nut. It has a very hard shell, and, 
as a cor. of N. & Q., 11, V, 434, thinks, "would be better 
known in Wiltshire than Brazilian wood", which is the sense 
preferred by NED and EDD. Brazil, meaning brazil-wood, 
has long been used as a type of hardness, Cf. Are my bones 
brazil, or my flesh of oak. Quarles, 1635. Turn thou my 
Brazil thoughts anew, ibid.; which is a possible reference to 
the brazil wood turned into bowls for bowling. Thus, it is 
possible that the sim. took its rise from this sense of the word. 
It is nevertheless probable that a great many of those who 



— 26o 

use it associate it with the more common sense, iron pyrites, 
or the hard coal so called. 

As hard as oak. Huloet, 1552, Lean, II, ii. See p. 116, 'stout 
as an oak.' 

"It was a big 'un, an' hard as zi'ood." Copping, GG, 24. Used 
of a baking pear. 

As hard as old 7iails. Northall, FPh. See p. 153, 'as tough as 
rusty wrought-iron nails.' 

Hard as nails. Used of muscles, beds. Overheard in Oxford. 
Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. Cf. Zoo hard als een 
spijker, Stoet, NS, I, 289, of a miser. As hard, or jed as a 
door-nail. Chs. Der. EDD. See pp. 153, 142, 87. 

As hard as a stiddy. Brocket, A Gloss, of N. Country Wds, 1825; 
Carr, Craven Gloss., 1828; A Sojtg against the Mass, Huth 
Ballads, p. 251, Lean, II, ii. 

As hard as a bullet. Northall, FPh. 8. 

As hard as wire. J. Heywood, 1533 (Lean, II, ii). 

As hard as iro7i. Lodge, Wifs Mis., 1596 (Lean, II, ii). 

In a book, published in 1786, . . . the unicorn is described . . . 
as having . . . horn "as hard as iron and as rough as any 
file." Hulme, NH, 132. Your head must be as hard as iron. 
Stevenson, TI, 109. A fist hard as iron. White, BT, 175. 
Brewer, Diet. 580. Northall, FPh. 8. 

My hart is Jiard as stele to trow in siche mastry. Tozvnel. Myst., 
288. Hard, difficult, unwilling to be convinced. See p. 88. 

As hard 2,s adamant. Barclay, SJiip of Fools, ii, 127, 1509; Cawdray, 
1600 (Lean, II, ii). Here we impinge upon a dilemma as 
hard as adamant. Gladstone, 1852, NED. Features set as 
hard as adamant. Doyle, Firm, 242. Brewer, Diet. 580. 
Chiefly used in transferred senses, it would seem. See p. 89. 

As hard as brick. Shelley, Stivi. arid Wint. (Lean, II, ii). Straight, 
fat, strong, flesh as hard as a brick. Stowe, UTC, 151. 

Youth presents a surface as hard as marble to the finality of death. 
Conrad, Romance, 297. His face, white and hard as marble. 
Vachell, OS, 142. See Firm, p. 261, and White, p. 232. 

The devel dragouns hide was Jiard ^o 2,\\\ flint, c. 1320, NP3D. 
As hard as a flint stone. Wright, Displ. of Duty, p. 6, 16 14 
(Lean, II, ii). Northall, FPh. 3. Brewer, Diet. 580. See p. 89. 

As Jiard as a coble. A common proverb. Dur. EDD. Cf. Zoo 
hard als een kei. Stoet, NS, I, 289. Hai't sein wie ein Kiesel- 
stein. Wander. 

Ebenif . . . that is a tree that after that it is kit waxith liard as a 
stoon. Wyclif, 1382, NED. Cov. Myst. 286; Barclay, Eel., 
ante 1530 (Lean, II, ii). Marlowe, Lusfs Dom., V, iii (Lean, 
II, ii). It was dry as a stick, hard as a stone, and cold as a 
cucumber. Gray, 1760, NED. Ez hard ez a steean. Blake- 
borough, NRY, 240, in daily use. Brewer, Diet. 580. Cf. 
This hard house — More harder than the stones whereof 'tis 



26l 

raised. Shak., KL, III, ii, 62. And see p. 89. Also in Dutch, 

G., and S\v. 
Here is a chinne, As so/t as the /loof of an horse. DP, Dodsley, 

I, 278. The soles of their feet being as Jiard as horse-hoofs. 

Burton, AM, I, 405. 
As hard as horn. Cai. EDD. Hard as any horn, and blakker fer 

than soot. Lydgate, 1420, NED. Cf. The hearty shake of 

Mr. Girder's horn-hard palm. Scott, 1819, NED. 

I could soon wish my hand to be as callous as Jiorn. Scott, 

A, 120. See p. 213. 
Dubs were hard as ony bane. Nicoll, 1837, EDD. 
Hard as ice. Brewer, Diet. 580. 



Firm, Stable. 

Note. For some related sim. see Honest, Faithfid, Trust- 
worthy, p. 9 ff. Calvi, Steady, Unflinching, p. 60. 

Firjn as Hodge-wife. — Hodge's wife is said to have been con- 
firmed (by the bishop) several times, and the phrase is now 
applied to anything very firm and secure. Lan. EDD. Who 
is this Hodge .^ It cannot be Gammer Gurton's 'goodman'. 

She [a ship] was a lovely creature, and as stiff z.^ a church. Martineau, 
1837, NED. 

Ez fast ez a rivet. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. 

Ev'ry limb, nerve, and muscle grew firm as a post. Barhatn, 
IL, 254. 

Her red ankles and feet were planted firm as iron on the sacred 
doorstep of Home, that she protected. Baring-Gould, RS, Z'] . 

Her full, round, naked arms, wet, mottled with the chill of the 
water, and as firm as marble. Hardy, JO, 45. See Hard, 
p. 258, and Stiff, p. 263. Cf. I had else been perfect, Whole 
as the marble, founded as the rock. Shak., Mb, III, iv. 

The thick lips, which are yet zsfirm as granite. Kingsley, WH, 465. 

His heart is as firm as a stone ; yea, as hard as a piece of the 
nether millstone. Job, 41, 24. See p. 88. 

As firm as the rock of Cashel. Cashel, on the Suir, co. Tipperary. 
The Rock of C. well-known in Irish, hist. See Enc. Brit. 

The mass was immovable. He shook it, it was as firm as a rock. 
Stevenson, NAN, 321. Geoffrey stood his ground, unmoved 
and firm as a rock. Hardy, UGT, 199. 

"Is my hand trembling", she asked, lifting it and laying it 
again on the tiller, where it rested firm as a rock. "Q", MV, 
53. Cf. I know thy faith to be as firm as rock. Jonson, EM, 71. 
The glass steady as a rock. "Q", MV, 14, 194. 

Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mo^tntains. Shak., KH, 
IVb. IV, i. 



262 — 

Roc's egg . . . that looked like an enormous white dome over 
a hundred cubits high and as firm as a mountain. Hulme, 
NH, 214. 

Rigid, Stiff. 

As stiff as Tommy Harrison when his mother could not bend him. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 116. See p. 59, where a shorter form is 
given. What is the application of the sim.? 

Bulging leggings 2A stiff ^■s,\}ciQ. PJiilistiiic's greaves of brass. Hardy, 
RN, 22. See I, Sam. 17, 6, And he had greaves of brass 
upon his legs. 

As stiff as the staff of Government. — Applied to a person whose 
carriage is stiff and erect. Its origin w^as a white staff, which 
the Governour of the Island received on his instalment, swearing 
that he will "truly and uprightly deal between the Queen and 
her subjects, and as indifferently betwixt party and party as 
this staff now standeth." Wood, Manx P., 255. Cf. Straight, 
p. 276. 

As stiff as a stappit saster. Lth. Rxb. Jamieson, EDD. Saster, 
a pudding composed of meal and mincemeat, put into a bag 
or tripe. 

It's as sticky an' stiff 2& treacle foot. Lin. EDD. Stiff, slow-flowing. 
Treacle foot, the bottom sediment of a treacle- pot. 

Stuffs u strad. — Strads are very hard leather leggings and arm- 
pieces worn in hedging or cutting faggot wood. A frozen 
cloth would be described as u'freez su stuf's u strad. Elworthv, 
W^SG. 

As stiff as buckram. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in daily use. Appli- 
cation .'' 

As stiff as a drab's distaff. — Welsh. Howell, 1659, (Lean, II, ii). 
Meaning.^ 

Make your hair stand on end as stiff as a rubbing brush. T. 
Heywood, Fair Maid &c, (Lean, II, ii). 

A small sword as long and as stiff as a poker. Barham, IL, 283. 
"If you sit there, you'll freeze stiff." — "Stiff as a poker," 
was Shorty's verdict. London, SB, 139. Hewett, Dev., 12. 
Brewer, Diet. 1143. See p. 59. 

As stiff as a cart. — Which is stiff when the wheels need greasing. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 275. See Fond, p. 44. 

There were the two watchmen, sure enough: Redcap on his back, 
as stiff as a Jia7idspike. Stevenson, TI, 92. 

As stiff as a post. Slattg. My legs , , as stiff as two postes. Hrt. 
EDD. This sim. may perhaps be applied to an unyielding 
character, a stiff or grave nature or behaviour as well as to 
human bodies or things that are stiff in a matter-of-fact sense. 
Cf. "I can't dance any more than a lamp-post." Anstey, VV, 
58. See p. 165. 



— 263 — 

My neck was as stiff 2^?, a board. Strand Mag., Oct. '12. 

She was freezing cold, and rigid\\V^ a stick. Stevenson, NAN, 298. 

Here armes when hi vpward reigte bicome as stiffs treo. c. 1305, 

NED. 
Fermor felt David's arm as rigid as iroit against his own. Vachell, 

OS, 141. See Hard, p. 260, Firm, p. 261. 
His hart gan wexe starke as marble stone. Spenser, FQ, II, i, 42. 

See Firm, p. 261. 
As stiff zs stone. Chester PL, 1328 (Lean, II, ii). Byron, Don J., 

13, no. 

He suspended his muscles rigid as stone. Hardy, UGT, 40. 

She remained rigid as a stone. Ibid. Lao., 15. 
I never fa' but I'm as stiff as a wttddie for twa or three days 

after it. Frf. 1886. 

The ither hauf is as dotir's a wuddy. Rnf. Wuddy, widdy, 

withy. 
As stiff as a ram's horn stooping so long. Hardy, RN, 224. See 

Crooked, p. 279. 

Note. Stijf als een boom, een boonenstaak, en boonenstok, een 

deur, een paal, een plank. Stoett, NS, I, 104. Er ist so steifwieein 

Bock, Stock, Stamm, Klotz, Hopfenstange, Besenstiel, Pfahl, Dragoner- 

pferd, Karrengaul, Wallach, Ziegenbock, Stockfisch &c. (Wander) are 

some D. and G. sim. referring to different kinds of stiffness. 



Tight. 

Note. For other sim. with tight see pp. 127, 195. See also 
Full, Croivded, p. 294, and Close, Ch. IV. 

As tight as Dick's Hatband. N. & Q., II, ii, 189. See p. 98 ff. 

The folkes that I did see, Chucked up es tite as ivax. Cor. EDD. 
Tite, tight, very closely wedged together. Another meaning 
in the following inst., I pulled and strained, but it was as 
tight as wax. Barnes-Grundy, 1902, NED. See 'close as wax', 
p. 130, 'neat as wax', p. 219. Does tight in our sim. origi- 
nally mean 'close or compact in texture and consistency'.? 
This sense rec. in NED 15 13 — 1797. 

As tight as a clicket-nail. — "Clicket" is, or was, a door-knocker, 
the iron knob on which it struck being the clicket-nail. Lin. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 275. Clicket-nail in no diet. 

As tight as tivopence in a rag. In. 1901, EDD. Does this origi- 
nally refer to something securely tied up? 

We've got them as tight as a nail. Oxenham, GD, 167. Used of 
people who would be trapped without any means of escape 

As tight as a bottle. Lean, II, ii. Water-tight? 

'That dam's sprung aleak.' 'Is t'other alright?' 'Yes, that's tight 
as a cup. Emerson, 1892, EDD. 

With belly stif and toght as any tabour. Chaucer, ST, 560. 



— 264 — 

Their rounded bodies were as taut as a drum-head. Stanley, 1878, 

NED. 

The skin-roof, stretched tightly as a drum head. Phillpotts, 

SW, 256. 
As fine as fivepence is her mien, No dnan was ever tighter. 

Gay, NS. 

Fitted her Uke a skin, tight as a drum. Galsworthy, MP, 148. 

Cf. He's high braced, like a drum; pray God he break not I 

Beaumont & Fletcher, NG, III, ii. 

As trig as a drum. Lin. Sc. EDD. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 

Trig, close-fitting, tight-strained, distended, in Sc, and n. Cy 

dial., rec. in NED fr. 181 1. For another sense of trig, see 

219, 217, and a cognate sim. p. 184. 
The hauser was as taut as a bowstring. Stevenson, TI, 86. 
Ez tight ez a damp cleeas-line. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in 

daily use. 
As tight as the bark of a tree. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). 



Tough. 

Ar tougJi as the devil's shoe-sole. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 

As tough as bull-beef. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 

As tough as shoe-leather. Lean, II, ii. The poor man's loaf was . . 

as tough as shoe-leather. Jessop, 1889, NED. Shoe-leather, 

rec. fr. 1576. 
As tough as right horsecollar iv kite leather. Armin, Nest of Nimi., 

p. 42, 1608 (Lean, II, ii); As tough as whitleather. Ray; 

Slang. 'As tou' as whitleather' is a common sim., especially 

for meat. Lei. EDD, It is also used of a man's constitution: 

I am hard as a nut, and as tough as whitleather. Der. Lan. 

EDD, Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. Whiteleather known at 

least from Beaumont & Fletcher. 
Ez tough ez leather. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in daily use. Hewett, 

Dev. 12; Brewer, Diet. 1135. 
As tough as the tongs. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 
Ez tough ez a swipple. — The swipple is the short bar of the 

flail, used to thrash corn with — by hand — and was always 

made of the toughest wood, Blakeborough, NRY, 244. 
As teuf as pinwire. Dickinson, 1866, Cum. Blakeborough, NRY, 

242, in daily use. 
As tough, or as tiff, as Billy IVhitlam's dog, that barked nine times 

after it was dead. Lin, N, & Q., 12, III, 275. 
As tough as an old horse. Lean, II, ii. Refers probably to the 

meat of a horse some twenty and odd years old. 
As teeaf as raglad. Raglad, gristle. The peculiar cartilage to 

which this is applied will split into filaments or tags, hence 

it is termed 'teeaf tags'. Nicholson, Flk-Sp., Yks., EDD. 



— 265 — 

As tough as hickory. See p. 156. 

As tough as a ividdey. Brocket, Gloss, of N. Cy Wds, 1825 (Lean, 
II, ii). That goose is as teuch as a wuddie, Abd. Also Ant. 
1878; Ayr. 1879; Bvvk, 1856; Yks. 1865. It is sometimes 
applied to a person's constitution: He'd ance be as swank, an' 
as teugh as a widdie. Abd. 1880. Wuddie, ividfdjy, withy. 

Note. So zah wie Handsche (Handschuh) leder, Juchtenleder, 
Hundeleder, (dial.), Hundefleisch (of. dur comme du chien), Eschen- 
holz, Wite (\vidd5Oj so taj as Gold, so taj as 'n Katt (the cat has nine 
hvesl). Wander. 



Frail, Brittle, Broken. 

As cracked as a brokken pot. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. 

As brittle as Venice glass. Withals (Lean, II, ii). 

Lett the world pas. It is ever in drede and brekylle as glas. 
Toivnel. Myst. lOi. He understood well that an army being 
brickie like glass. Munro, 1637, EDD. 'Tis so brickie's glass. 
Som. EDD. Brekylle, brickie, frail, not rec. before the Tozvnel. 
Myst. 

As brittle as the glass. Mirror for Mag., 179, 1559 (Lean, 
II, ii). Rare Triumph of Love &c., 1589 (Lean, II, ii). To 
have a Mistris as brittle as glasse. And that were as bad as 
the horn-plague. Dekker, OF, 99. These women/ Are as 
brittle mettle as your glasses. Ford, LS, 104. 
As frail as glass. Davies, Select Sec. Husb. &c., 16 16. But 
we bee frail as glass. And also bretylle. Wright, Pol. Poevis 
and Songs, i, 180 (temp. Edw. Ill to Henry VIII), Lean, II, ii. 

Short as catfat. Lin. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 410. Short, brittle, 
in some n. Cy dial. The phrase signifies something that breaks 
very readily and in an unexpected manner. 'This warp is as 
short as cat-fat. It weant hing together a bit.' Lin. EDD. 

Some are fragile or brittle as bones. Crooke, 161 5, NED. 

As S7iapple as a carrot. Lin. EDD. Snapple, brittle. 

As smopple as a carrot. — That is, as easily snapped in two. 
I never heard it applied to anything rigid like glass or china. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 275. Used of wood, or pie-crust. EDD. 

As smopple as touch. — Touch, touchwood. Yks. EDD. 



Soft, Pliant. 

Then came a breath of wind. At first it was as soft as an angel's 

whisper. Caine, D, xxiv. 
Her skin is as sample as a duchess s. Hardy, T, 30. Sumple, 

supple, pliant. 
With a skin soft as a 'lydys\ Phillpotts, SW. 



— 266 — 

Paula's hand was cool and soft as an infanfs. Hardy, Lao., 102. 

She looked from brown hand to white — the one, work-worn 

and hardened by whiphandle and paddle, the other as guiltless 

of toil and soft as a newborn babes. London, FM, 184. 
Softer than sleep. Tennj'son, W. 
As soft as butter. Lean, II, ii. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. See 

Polite, Civil, p. 68. 
Limber like the skin of a white pudding when the meat is out. 

Middleton, 1602, NED. 
As soft as pap her kisses are. Gay, NS. Blakeborough, NRY, 

240. Cf A child's head is naturally as soft as the pap of an 

apple. Sterne, 1761, NED. 
"Pretty soft subsoil." — ''Soft as dough," he admitted. Illustr. 

Lond. Neivs, Xmas N., 191 5, p. 32. 
Soft as soap. Brewer, Diet. 1157. "I never heard this." U. 
As soft as putty. "Used it all my life." C; Blakeborough, NRY, 

240, in daily use. Probably the glazier's putty. This sense 

rec. fr. 1706. 
As soft as a biled turniit. Chs. Gloss. Turmit, turnip. Cf As full 

of dreaminess as a tummit is full of watter. Yks., EDD. 
Ker lips are as soft as a medlar. Musarum Delic., ii, 265, 1656 

(Lean, II, ii). The fruit is eaten when decayed to a soft pulpy 

state. See Rotten I 
As soft and semmit as a lady s glove. WJiitby Gloss. Semmit, a 

n. Cy word meaning soft pliable, rec. fr. 1790, EDD. 

As Jcind as a glove. Kraven Dial. Kind, smooth, soft, sleek. 

As linnow as a glove. Shr. Linnow a Shr. form of lennow, 

limp, a word rec. fr. 1589. 
As fine and soft as Dutch cloth. Yarranton, England's Improvem., 

i, 108, 1677 (Lean, II, ii). 
These starched things bin as linnow as the dishclout. Shr. EDD. 

For sim. with dish-clout, see p. 162, and Weak, Ch. IV. 
A skin, a sattin is not viore soft, nor lawn whiter. Dekker, H\Vh, 

la, vi. See Smooth, p. 269. 
The gras, as thikke y-set And soft as any veluet. Chaucer, RR, 

1420. Soft as velvet the young gras, Lydgate, CBK, st. 12. 

Conscious borrowing.'' A thick moss which was as soft as 

velvet beneath their feet. Hardy, DR, 433. 
Body and brest wel mad al, . . Eyther side .y^/ ase jrj'/Xr. c. 1310, 

NED. Straw her cage faire and soft as silk. Chaucer, 1386, 

NED. Soft and soupill as the silk. Dunbar, 1508, NED. 

A skin as soft as silk, and as smooth as jet. Lyly, AC, II, ii. 

Spenser, RuTi, 564 (of hair). When steel grows soft as the 

parasite's silk. Shak., Co., I, xi, 45. Clarke, 1638. Her 

breath is as sweet as the rose in June, Her skin is as soft 

as slik. Aubrey, 1669, Slang. Gay, NS. Hardy, Lao. 183 

(of hair). Ray; Brewer %lc. 



— 26/ 

A sort of Paper . . as fine and limber as Silk. Cheselden, 
1713, NED. 

As soft as silkworms. Taylor, Pastoral (Lean, II, ii). Lean quotes 
this sim. fr. several other late ME and early MnE sources, 
but as far as they have been verified they give insts of 'as 
soft as silk'. The mistake is probably due to the imperfect 
state in which the manuscript was left. See Introduction about 
Lean's Collectanea. 

Ez soft ez a geease-doum pillow. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 

As soft as is the pillotv down. Grange, Gold. Aphrod., IS77 (Lean, 
II, ii). No cp pillow-down known to any dictionary. 

Whiter Galatea than the white withy-wind, 
Fresher than a field, higher than a tree, 
Brighter than glass, more wanton than a kid, 
Softer than siomi's doivn, or ought that may be. 
Burton, AM, III, 181. A translation of: — 
Candidior folio nivei, Galatea, ligustri. 
Floridior prato, longa procerior alno, 
Splendidior vitro, tenero lascivior Jiaedro &c. 
Mollior et cygni pbimis, et lade coacto. 
Ovid. Met. 13, 789—96. 

More sleek thy skin . . . And softer to the touch, than doivVc 
of szvans. Dryden, 1700, NED. Cf. Her hand ... to whose 
soft seizure/ The cygnet's down is harsh. Shak., TC, I, i, 51- 
As fat and plum euerie part of her as a plover, a skin as 
slike and soft as the back of a swan. Nashe, II, 26. 
I take the hand, this hand/ As soft as doves down, and as 
white as it. Shak., WT, IV, iv. 

As soft as dowyi. Jonson, CJiaris, ix (Lean, II, ii). Sharpham, 
Cupid' s Whirligig, 1630 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. the cp-sim. down- 
soft. Tailor, 1614, NED. 
As fine as Kerton. i. e. Crediton spinning. Devon. Ray. "Which 
to express the better to your belief, it was very true 140 
threads of woollen yarn spun in that town were drawn together 
through the eye of a taylor's needle, which needle and thread 
were for many years together to be seen in Watling Street 
in London ..." Westcot's View of Dev., 1630, Lean. "In 
1 23 1 the bishop obtained a fair, still held, on the vigil, feast 
and morrow St. Lawrence. This was important as the wool- 
trade was established by 1249, and certainly continued until 
1630, when the market for kersies is mentioned in connection 
with the saying 'as fine as Kerton spinning'." Enc. Brit. The 
woollen trade and industry was established in Devonshire in very 
early times, and flourished . . . until the closing years of the 
eighteenth c. when it was greatly checked by the introduction 
of cotton fabrics. The chief woollen market was at Crediton, 
but it was removed in the sixteenth c. to Exeter. Cambr. 
Co. Geogr. Co. Devon. Kerton seems to have given rise to 
another at least local sim, 'The soil (of the Lord's Meadow, 



— 268 — 

a broad open field, extending from the Crediton valley to the 
Greedy river) is very fertile . . . insomuch that it is grown to 
a general proverb throughout the whole kingdom, "as good 
hay as any in Devonshire", and here in the county "as good 
hay as any in Kirton, and there "as good as any in my lord's 
meadow".' Westcott, View of Dev. (Lean). 

Her skin as soft as Levister icool. As white as snow on peakish 
hull. Or swanne that swims in Trent. Drayton, Shepherd's 
Garl., 1593. (Lean, III). A bank of moss/ Spongy and 
swelling and far more/ Soft than the finest Lemster ore. 
Herrick, Obero7is Pal., 1648. My flocks/ Yielding forth fleeces 
stapled with wool,/ As Lempster cannot yield more finer stuff". 
Greene, FBB, 220. "Where lives a man so dull on Britain's 
furthest shore/ To whom did never sound the name of Lemster 
ore.? That with the silkworm's web for smallness doth com- 
pare ... Of each in high'st account and reckon'd here as fine/ 
As th'Apulian fleece or dainty Tarentine. Drayton, Pol.., vii, 
161 2 (Lean, III). Camden also speaks of Lemster ore: cui 
[excepta Aptilia et Tarentina] palmam deferunt Etiropcei omnes. 
(Lean). 

She was more blisful on to see/ Than is the newe pere-jonette 
tree; And softer than the ivolle \s of a wether. Chaucer, 
MiT, 61. 
This tye is as pbim as '<?<?/. Cor. Plum, smooth, soft. 

His lips . . . softer than bevers Skins. Cowley, 1667, NED. 

A thatched roof, brown and soft as the fur of a mole. Baring- 
Gould, RS, 25. 

A skin as soft as a mowdy-icarp. Cum. Wm. EDD. 
Zo zaft's a ivant. Hewett, Dev., 13. 

I got en as plum as a ivant pile. Cor. EDD. Plum, see above. 
Want-pile, molehill. 

As soft as the Jiair of a coney. Withals, 1586 (Lean, II, ii). 

As soft as iveshleather. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. 
I . . found . . in one instance several of the bones as limber 
as leather. Cheselden, 1713, NED. 

[The bones of an arm] be as loose as a bag of ninepins. Hardv, 
TM, 32. 

So limber s a fishing-rod. Said of a framework or other construc- 
tion not sufficiently rigid. Som. EDD. 

My arms as limp as a Jierring. Blackmore, LD, 60. 

My shirts I have of taffeta-sarsnet, soft and light/ As cobwebs. 
Jonson, Alch., II, i, 192. A limp band softer than silk or 
cobweb. Emerson, i860, NED. 

As tall and semmant as a ivilloiv wand. Whitby Gloss. Semmant, 
a n. Cy form of semmit. See above, p. 266. 
You felt as limp as ivithy-ivind, and yearned for something to 
cling to. Hardy, LLI, 185. 

The sun-gleams soft as primrose. Baring-Gould, VM, 32. 



— 269 — 

As soft as the falling thistle doivn. Hall, Sat., iv, 4, 1 599 (Lean, II, ii). 

The air, soft as the dead leaves of spring, fanned his cheek. White, 
BT, 192. 

As soft as a bank of moss. Cawdtay, 'j']'^ (Lean, II, ii). 

A deep red carpet of Aleppo, as soft and yielding as the 
moss of a forest. Doyle, R, 103. 

Thy voice is the cooing wood dove's/ And soft as moss thy 
hand. SV. 64. 

As plum as a jugglc-mear. Dev. Ray. Plum, see above. Juggle- 
mear, juggy-mear, a quagmire. 

Note. H. has, 'as plai7i as a juggem ear.' The word 
juggeni puzzled the compiler very long, until it was discovered 
that the phrase must be "quoted" from Bohn's Handbook of 
Proverbs., p. 320 (ed. 1855), where we read: "As plum as a 
juggem ear." When transcribing this for his book H. must 
have had his eye on the preceding line: "As plain as the 
nose on a man's face." Hence the misquotation. But the 
matter does not end there. On p. 57 of Bohn's Handbook 
(58 must be a misprint) there is: "As plum as zjugglem ear." 
This is also found in Ray, 1768, and probably also ibid. 1678, 
and no doubt is a misprint for "juggle-mear" or "juggle mear", 
which is the form given by Lean, who nevertheless also copies 
Bohn. 

Ez soft ez muck. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. 

How different was her palm! . . Like a rose petal, he thought; 
cool and soft as a snouflake. London, ME, 36. 

She was soft to the touch as a cloud. Hardy, RN, 'j'] . 

The touch upon your hand was as soft as ivijid. Hardy, W, 31. 

As sweet as balm, as soft as air. Sliak., AC, V, ii, 308. 



Smooth. 

As smooth as my hand. Lean, II, ii. Cf. the adj. and adv. hand- 
smooth, rec. in NED 1530 — 1632. In dial, use much later. 
In e. An. Suf., EDD. 

As smootli as the smoothest beaver hat. Davies, Scourge of Folly, 
161 1, (Lean, II, ii). Beaver hat known fr. Chaucer's times. 

The rock is cut up till it is as smooth and as sleek as sattin. Gray, 
1754, NED. With a cooat as zlick as sattin. Som. 1872, 
EDD. See Soft, p. 266 and Easy, Ch. IV. 

As smooth as a carpet. Ray. Spoken of a good way. Cf. carpet- 
smooth. Mrs. Browning, 1844, NED. 

As sleek as a hornbook. Jonson, Poetaster, IV, v, 1602 (Lean, II, ii). 
The covering of transparent horn that protected the sheet of 
letters of the "book" must have been worn very smooth. The 
hornbook is mentioned in NED fr. 1588. It seems to have 
dropped out of use in the beginning of the nineteenth century 



— 2/0 — 

Make this borde as svioihe as a dyce, covime ung dez. Palsgrave» 
1530, NED. Heywood, PE. Goodly lields as plaine and smooth 
as any die. Hakluyt, 1600, NED. Herrick, 1648 (Lean, II, ii). 
Fiennes, 1710, NED (of the sands of a shore). See pp. 271, 273. 

Cheek . . smooth as the billiard ball. B. Jonson, 1637, NED. 

As smooth as polished crystal. Sharpham, Cupid's Whirligig, 1607 
(Lean, II, ii). 

The Alleys in the Gaol yard were as glib as glass. Miller, 1776, 
NED. The snow lies glib as glass and as hard as steel. 
Browning, 1879, NED. 

It were as glibby as glass. Not. EDD. Glib, glibby, smooth 
and slippery in surface and consistency. Of movements, easy, 
unimpeded. Rec. fr. 1599, now rare except dial. 
Like glass the Ocean's face was smooth and calm. Taylor, 
MV, 15. Gay, NS; As smooth as glass the glibbed pool is 
froze. Nhp. EDD. The sea was as smooth as glass. Hardy, 
LLI, 243. Hewett, Dev. 12. Lean has an inst. of 16 14. 

As smooth as jet. Webster, Northw. Hoi, I, i; As smooth and 
black as jet. Herrick, 1648, (Lean, II, ii). 

I'll not shed her blood. Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than 
snow And smooth as monumental alabaster. Shak., 0th., V, 
ii, 3. An high brow like unto the bright heavens white and 
smooth like the polished Alabaster. Burton, AM, III, 90. 
See White, p. 232. 

The Mediterranean stretched away smootJi as a slab of viarble. 
Mason, PK, 71. 

Women of elegant beauties, for the most part . . . cleare, and 
smooth as the polished ivory. Sandys, 161 5, NED. Her skin's 
as smooth as ivory. Hocking, MF, 56. 

As slape as a plough-slipe. — A plough-slipe is the sheet of iron 
on the "land" side of the plough, which turns over the earth 
as the plough cuts into the soil. Lin. N. & O., 12, III, 275. 

As smooth as a bowling green. Lean, II, ii. 

It was quite calm, and the Sea as smooth as a Mill-pond. Dampier, 
1697, NED. In the month of November, when the Mediter- 
ranean is always smooth as a mill-pond. Smollet, 1766, NED. 
Cf. As calm as a mill-pond. Lean, II, ii. The sea's like a 
mill-pond? Tracy, Pillar, 13. Cf also, If the sea be as calm 
as a milk pan. Taylor, NL, 21. As calm as a milk-bowl. 
Poor Robin, Prog., 1766 (Lean, II, ii). 

Ez srnooth ez a caf s back. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. 

As sleek as a mouse. Gay, NS, Sleek, rec. fr. 1589. 1 

As slick as a mole. Withals, 1616 (Lean, II, ii). War. EDD. 
Your feace looks as slick as mouldort. Shr. 
As slick as a (h)oont. Hrf. A common expression signifying 
very smooth. EDD. Cf. No quadrupede is fatter, none has 
a more .sleek or glossy skin [than the mole]. Goldsmith, 1774, 
NED. See Blind, p. 170, Fat, p. 184. 



— 2/1 — 

[The horse] has a buttock as slick as an eel. Marlowe, 1604 
(Thornton). See False, p. 24, and Slippery, 242. 

As smooth as a msh. Jonson, Underwoods, 1640, KiUigrew, Thomaso, 
1664 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. The Lawyer being captious made a 
scruple in a smooth rush, asking what is meant by Neighbour. 
Taylor, 1649; and the prov. 'to seek a knot in a rush'. Cf. 
Cibiim et pottiin aversantur multi, noduin in scirpo qiiaeritantes . . 
Ten, And., V, iv, 38. Burton, AM, III, 464. 



Flat, Even. 

Note. In some of the following sim, flat means dull. 

His talk as woman backward flat. Rob. Heath, Epigr., 1650. See 
p. 106. 

'Tis a narrow strip, as you see, hemmed by the river, but as flat 
as the back of your hand. Phillpotts, P, 249. See Bare, p. 253. 

As flat as z. flawn. Ray. Bailey, ante 1800. w. Yks. 1887. Flawn, 
custard or kind of pancake. 

The jokes of an auctioneer are generally as level as a cold slap- 
jack. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). Z^z'^/ is by Lean rendered 'good' ; 
does it not rather allude to monotonous sameness? 

A sportsman describing the floor of a cockpit, the contour of a 
race-course, the state of a bowling-green, or the surface of the 
water on a calm day, his simile would invariably be — 'it 
was level as a die, sir'. This gentleman was born in 1777, 
and is said to have had it from his father. Thus, its pedi- 
gree would run back to the early part of the eighteenth c. 
N. & Q,, 4, IX, 345. Cf. 'straight as a die', p. 273, of which 
it is said to be a modern form. N. & Q., 4, IX, passim. 

I'll beat thy nostrils as flat as a pancake, or a \i2.x\Q.y froyes. Day, 
BBB, 1644, A continual Simon and Jude's rain Beat all your 
feathers down as flat as pancakes. Middleton & Dekker, 161 1, 
NED. London Chanticleer s, 1659, H. A country as flat as a 
pancake. Ld Bloomfield, i860, NED. Ez flat ez a pancake. 
Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. Brewer; Slang. Pan- 
cake often taken as a type of flatness. NED. — Barley 
froyes, froise, fraise, a kind of pancake or omelette, often con- 
taining slices of bacon, mentioned in NED fr. 1338, still in 
use in some midl. and southern counties. 

As flat as a cake. Udall, Erasm. Apo., Baret, Alv., 1529 
(Lean, II, ii). 

Poorgrass being flattened like a jumping-jack. Hardy, MC, 399. 
Jumping-jack, a children's toy made of the merrythought of 
a bird. NED. 

I am struck as flat as a frying pan. Farquhar, The Inconstant, 
(Ware). 



— 2/2 

Ez fiat ez an iroti. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. The 
tailor's iron. 

The road from H. to this place is as even as a fioor. Highmoor, 
RS, 7- 

Flagstones as level as a paveiiient. Hardy, PBE, 324. 

The whole country flat and eveji as a bowling green. Evelyn, 
1646, NED. An immense plain . . as level as a bowling- 
green. Waterton, 1825. A common sim. NED. See Smooth, 
p. 268. 

As fiat as a conger. Thersites, (H, Old Plays, i, 410; Lean, II, ii). 
Conger, sea-eel. 

Flat as a dab. Ed. Fitz Gerald, 1887, Folk-Lore, XXXVII. Knocked 
t'poor barn darn as flat as a dab. Yks. EDD. Dab, a small 
flat-fish, Pleuronectes liinanda, resembling the flounder. 

As fiat as fiounder. Beaumont & Fletcher, Women Pleased, II, iv 
(Lean, II, ii). Ray; Gay, NS; Zounds! We have nort but 
loosing tacks;/ We now be humbled 'pon our backs/ — Lord! 
Lord! as vlat as vlounder. Wolcott, 1802 (Cowan, PS, 34). 
I knocked him down flat as a flounder. Brewer, Diet. 468. 
Slang. "Used of anything that can be squashed flat, such as 
a tin can after a motor car has run over it. Also used of 
persons when depressed. Less common than 'flat as a pan- 
cake'." U. 

The loaves be as fiat as toads. Hardy, MC, 35. Known to U. 

The water level as a pond. Phillpotts, SW, 239. 

Look at his neck craned out in front of him, and his face a'^. fiat 
as a full moon towards his man, as if he was inviting him to 
shut up both his eyes with one blow. Shaw, GBP, 148. 



Slippery. 

Now [the frozen river] was level, hard, and slippery as a dance 
floor. London, GF, 192. Slippery rec. fr. 1535. The other 
adj. of the section except slape are much older. 

P2z slape as a greeasy poivl. — It is common at village feasts to 
erect a pole daubed thickly with grease, on the top of which 
a ham, a leg of mutton &c. is fixed. Blakeborough, NRY, 243. 

The road so slipper's glass. Elworthy, WSG. 
As slape as glass. Whitby Gloss. 

As slippery as glass. Gascoigne, Grief of Joy, 1576, (Lean, 
II, ii). Hardy, DR, 304. See Smooth, p. 270. 

Tlieir wordes . . are more slipper than oyle, but in the ende they 
are steeled arrows to destroy. Lodge, 1591, NED. See p. 25. 

As slippery as an eeVs tail. Hey wood (Lean, II, ii). Sly per as 
an eeles tayle is the holde of it. Heywood, 1562, NP^D. Cf 
A slipper holde the taile is on an ele. Skelton, 1523. NED. 
As slipir as any ele. Occleve, Reg. Prin., ante 1450 (Lean, II, ii). 



— 273 — 

Ez slape ez an eel. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 
As slippery as an eel. Ray. 'The chiefest that is marked in 
the Ele is that it is slippery,' Maplet, 1567, NED. See p. 24. 

Slimy and sliddery as sea-tveed. Wilson, 1827, NED. 

As slipir as ice. Tusser, Husbandry, 1580 (Lean, II, ii). 

The floor was as sliddery as ice. Hislop, 1874, NED. — Ice 
is at once the smoothest and slipperest of ways. Boyle, 1665, 
NED. 



Straight. 

Note. In some of the following sim. straight means 
'upright, fair-dealing, correct.' 

As straight as trutJi. Beaumont & Fletcher, Pilgrim, II, ii (Lean, 
II, ii). Ez straight ez trewt. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in 
daily use. 

A path which ascended skyward straight as Jacob' s ladder. Hardy, 
Lao., 386. Some picture illustrating Gen. 28, 12 may have 
occasioned this sim. 

She was tall . . and stood as straight as a soldier on parade. 
Hocking, MP, 29. 

Enormous, busy, pleased, and upright as a soldier. Galsworthy, 
IP, 17. 

Say^ I put away seven guineas in the year, why, it would take me 
thirteen to fourteen years to earn a hundred pounds — going 
straight as a nail, not as a screw, nor as a ferret. Baring- 
Gould, RS, 153. See Dead, p. 142. 

My hair . . hung down upon my shoulders, as lank and straight 
as a pound of candles. Smollet, RR, 80. His hair is as straight 
as a pound of candles. Northall, FPh. 15. 

Arums climbing fifty feet up large trees as straight as a die. Spry, 
1877, NED. Slang. The sim. has been discussed in N. & O., 
4, IX, X, passim. "This old phrase is usually applied to a 
very distinct, clear, and inevitable course of action, and is 
derived from the straight, true, and regular descent of the die 
by the old method of stamping metal, before the screwpress 
came into such general use." ibid. IX, 186. An exhaustive 
description is given showing how the 'die' descended straight 
upon the metal to be impressed and cut out. Most corr. seem 
to be of the same opinion, and 'as true, level, clear, clean 
as a die' are explained as having reference to the nicety and 
exactness observed in fixing the die in the stamping machine, 
and the "original words" are supposed to be 'as true as a 
die', i, e. as exact as the impression is to the matrix. But, 
as one of the corr. says, "the proper way to find the precise 
words and meaning must be by ascertaining how the saying 
was and is used." The earliest inst. of a sim. with die is *as 

18 



— 274 — 

smooth as a die', see p. 270. Palsgrave's Fr. rendering makes 
the sense unquestionably clear. The usual sense of dez (de) 
is the cube with which games are played. Just as the die 
has to be smooth to throw well, it must be level, and hence 
'as level as a die'. Another very early inst. of a sim. with 
die is in Davies, Sc. of Folly, 1614 (Lean, II, ii). Let all 
tongues walk through all mine actions, 1/ Will stand the while as 
upright as a dye; [Whose even squares shall pass among the 
best]. — A die, no matter how it is thrown, will always be up- 
right. Cf. 'as right as a trivet'. A development from upright to 
straight, true is perfectly rational. We have also in NED the 
descriptive comparison "Square as discs f)ou shalt hit make." 
c. 1420, and in specifications for carpentry in buildings the 
expression 'diesquare' to indicate exact squareness in the timber 
is very common. N. & Q., 4, IX, 520. And among the 
transf. senses of square there are upright, precise, straight. 
Consequently, in 'as straight as a die' we must have the same 
word as in the earliest cases. It must further be borne in 
mind that, although it gives good sense to explain our sim. 
as a reference to the die used in stamping, this is not the 
most natural explanation, as the die used in gaming has always 
been far more common, and, being much more frequently 
spoken of, is more likely to have played a part in phrase- 
making. Die, engraved stamp, rec. in NED fr. 1699. 

She sat with grim determination, upright as a darning-needle stuck 
in a board. Stowe, UTC, 191. 

The colonel walks as straight as a pijt. Swift, PC, 255. 

Sat upright as a ivaxivork, in his shallopy chariot. Galsworthy, 
MP, 154. 

As straight as a whip. Used by an Irish cab-driver to designate 
the absolute straightness of a certain road. N. & Q., 4, IX, 520. 

As straight as a dig. Lincoln Gloss. A common proverbial ex- 
pression. EDD. Dig, a mattock, or spade; already in Grose. 

As stright as a gunstick. Lin. EDD. Gunstick rec. fr. 1589. 

The squire walks as straight as a pike. Common expr. Wil. i860. 
EDD. Pike, a lance-like weapon with a long wooden shaft, 

Straight as a lance, steady strong. Holme Lee, W. 

Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt. Chaucer, MiT, 3264. 

Straight as an arroiv. Ray. Were your cause as straight as an 
arrow, he wad find a way to put you wrang. Scott, RR, xxv. 
I have only to cut a gap through the hedge of your paddock, 
and in three minutes, straight as an arrow, you can go from 
one house to the other. Baring-Gould, RS, 270. She lay 
supine, and straight as an arrow on the sloping sod of this 
hill-top. Hardy, JO, 60; ibid. 514. A full-length figure as 
straight as an arrow. Conrad, Romance, 238. — This is no 
doubt originally elliptical for 'as straight as an arrow flies'. 



— 275 — 

The highway soon became as straight as a boivstring. Hardy, 
TM, 237. 

He stood up immediately, as straight as a fiddlestring. Benecke, 
PA, 17, 40. Cr. Maybe this chance ain't worth no more than 
that, if he'll sell it so cheap. Maybe there's something ain't 
straight about it. — But it is, though — straight as a string . . 
Twain, HF, 272. 

As straight as a thread. Jacob and Esau, 1568 (H, Old Plays, 
ii, 222; Lean, II, ii). 

A streak, straight as a meridian. Hardy, TT, 151. 

Straight as a surveyor s line. Hardy, MC, 245. 

The Cedres high, vpright as a lyne. Lydgate, CBK, 10. Also in 
Chaucer according to Lean. 

Thou folowest their steppes as right as a lyne. Heywood, 
1546, NED. See Right, Ch. IV. 

But to his neces house, as streght as lyne, He com. Chaucer, 
Troyl., II, 1461. To purgatorie y shal as streight as lyne. 
Hoccleve, 1422, NED. To prove my saying as straight as a 
line. Schole of Worn., 736, 1541 (Lean, II, ii). She was 
running straight as a line. Baring-Gould, RS, 229. He went 
as straight as a line. Boldrewood, 1889, NED. I am going 
to send as straight as a line. Hardy, DR, 283, UGT, 97. 
I am so straight as a line. Phillpotts, SVV, ibid. M, 30. The 
absence of insts fr. 1541 to modern times is noteworthy. 

Cows, with backs as horizontal and straight as the ridge of a house. 
Hardy, DR, 20. 

A lyttle thing . . Small, long, sharp at the point, and straight as 
any piller. GGN, II, i. 

Upright as a colum?z. Hardy, FMC, 130. 

As straight as a shingle. Bartlett, (Lean, II, ii). 

As straight as a ivand. Lyl}^, M. Bombie, I, iii (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 
Her stature to an inch; as wand-like straight. Shak., Per., 
V, i, 108. Wand, at least fr. Orm. 

As straight as a yard of pump ivayter. Chs. Gloss. Often said 
of a tall, lanky girl. Also in Yks. Berk. Cf. "I'm right up 
and down like a yard o' pump water, that's what I am." 
Caine, D, viii. 'Straight up and down like &c.' is a Lan. 
form. "Yard-of-pumpwater", common term for a tall thin man. 

Streight was the passage, like a ploughed ridge. Spenser, FO, V, 
vi, 36. 

As straight as the crow flies. Lean, II, ii. Cf. 'as the crow flies, 
in a crow line', to denote the shortest possible way. In Sw. 
'fagelvagen' (the bird-way). 

He usually moves to his quarry as straight as z falcon. Whiteing, 
No. 5, 71. 

As straight as a loon's leg. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). They were 
puzzled with the accounts; but I saw through it in a minit, 
and made it all as straight as a loon's leg. Downing, 1865, 



— 2/6 

Slarig. Whether there is any zoological fact to justify the sim., 
is not known to the compiler. 

As straight as the backbone of a herring. Ray. A big strapping 
chap . . as straight as the backbone of a herring. Caine, D, 
xxiii. Cf. If so be that the man was hanging them they'd do 
him justice man to man as fair as the backbone lies down 
the middle of a herring. Deemster's justice couldn't be cleaner; 
Caine, D., xxxiii, and the Manx Deemster's oath: By this 
book ... I, A. B., do swear that I will, without respect of 
favour or friendship . . execute the laws of this Isle . . betwixt 
party and party, as indifferently as the Herring's backbone 
doth lie between the two sides. Denliani Tracts, Folklore, 
XXIX, 1 86, f, and a slightly differing form. As indifferently 
as the herring backbone doth lie in the midst of the fish. 
Wood, Manx P., 264. 

Ah wor as streyt as a loitch. Yks., 1875. He pearkt up as streyt 
as a loitch. ibid., 1877. Tall, 'straight as a loach', and 'thin 
as a lath'. EDD. This expression has been in common use 
in this part of Yorkshire from time immemorial. It is used 
to express the perfect straightness of anything. Batley. N. & Q., 
6, V, 28. It is also in Robinson's Dialect of Leeds. "I have 
heard the expression used for many a year." Market Deeping, 
Line. N. & O., 6, V, 177. The loach, or loitch, is as small 
fresh-water fish allied to the minnow and found in some of 
the Yorkshire streams. 

As upright as a young apple tree. Blackmore, LD, 55. 

As upright as the cedar. Shak., LLL, IV, iii, 84. 

He had a beautiful gentle way with him for all his fighting face. 
An' so straight as z. fir tree a was. Phillpotts, AP, 291. 
I can see them myself with their ranks open, and each as 
stiff and straight as a pine stump. Doyle, R, 324. 

Kate like the har.el twig Is straight and slender and as brown in 
hue As hazel-nuts, and sweeter than the kernels. Shak., TS, 
II, i, 246. 

As brant and lissom as a poplar tree. Blumby, 181 5, Yks. EDD. 
Brant, upright; See Proud, 82, f. 

Ez straight ez a bulrush. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use 
As straight as a rush. Mactaggart, 1824, EDD. The larch . 
shoots up, as straight as a rush, to a great height. Stephens 
1844, NED. Also in Ayr. Cum. Nhb. Lin. Maclaren, YB, 17 
I'm straight as a rush, and plump as a pea. Nicholson, 1895 
EDD. She was always as straight as a rush. Boldrewood 
1889, NED. 



277 



Crooked. 

As crooked as Yarmouth steeple. — Pulled down in 1S03. Cf. You 
cannot spell Yarmouth steeple right. A play on the word 
right, i. e. straight. — The crooked spire of Great Yarmouth 
is said to have got out of the perpendicular through a virgin 
having once been married in the church. Norfolk Ant. Misc., 
i, 301 (Lean, II, ii). 

VVybunbury Church has also a steeple above its ancient tower, but 
it is not a hundred years old; the old spire was so crooked 
that there was a Cheshire proverb, "as crooked as Wembury 
steeple', and it ultimately had to be rebuilt. Cambridge 
County Geographies, Co. Cheshire, p. 136. 

As crooked as Robin Hood's boiv. H. 

Lady Answ. But, Mr. Neverout, I wonder why such a handsome, 
straight young gentleman as you, do not get some rich widow. 
Ld Sparkish. Straight! Straight as my leg, and that's crooked 
at knee. Swift, PC, 259. See Right, Ch. IV. 

As crooked as Dick's hatband. Shr., 1883, EDD. See p. 97 ff. 

Crooked as Mullinss roadside fence. 

His name was William Mullins, 
And he had a sneering way 
Of turnin' his proboscis up 
At everything you'd say. 

He cut his grass whenever it rained, 

He shocked his wheat up green, 

He cut his corn behind the frost, 

His hogs was alius lean. 

He built his stacks the big end up, 

His corn-cribs big end down; 

"Crooked as Mullins's roadside fence" 

Was the proverb in our town. c. 1880, source uncertain, Thornton. 

Probably only local. 

Crooked 2iS a Virginia fence. Uneven; zigzag; said of matters and 
persons difficult to keep '.straight'. 'To make a Virginia fence' 
is to walk unsteadily, as a drunkard. The Virginia fences 
zigzag with the soil. Amer. Slang. 

As crooked as an Izzarrt. Robinson, Whitby Gloss. (Lean, II, ii). 
Rhumatiz creeps into foaks' elbows an' knees an macks em az 
crooth as htizzats. Yks., 1856, EDD. When I're the age of 
you lass, I're as straight as a pickin-peg. But now ... I am 
croot as a huzzet. Lan. 1868. EDD. s. Chs. still occasionally 
used. Said to mean deformed in person; perverse in disposition. 
As crooked as the A' s and B' s quite down to Izzard. Nares. 
(Lean, II, ii). 
As crooked as the letter Z. Grose (Lean, II, ii). 

Ez beyit ez a sickle. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. 



— 278 — 

As beiit as a biickcr. Bucket', a bent piece of wood, especially 
that on which a slaughtered animal is suspended. Halliwell. 

As crooked as a camock. Lyly, M. Boinbie, i, 3, (Lean, II, ii). 
As rigJit as a camock. Skelton, Why Come Ye 7iat to Court? 
(Lean, II, ii). 

As crooked as a gaumeril. Yks. H. — Camock, gaumeril, 
camerill, cambril, gambrel are different forms of the same word 
meaning the same thing as bucker, also the crooked beam or 
knee of timber, used in shipbuilding. Cf. the proverb 'Soon 
crooks the tree/ That good gambrel would be.' Northall, FR, 
489. Camden has a slightly different form. Heywood says. 
Timely crooketh the tree/ That will good cammock be. Cf. 
also. Early crooks the tree/ That ever will be/ A good ship's- 
knee. Cowan, PS, 142. 

Hail seint dominik with JdI long staffe it is as |De ouir end crokid 
as a gaffe, c. 1300, NED. Gaff, an iron hook or hoe. 

Crooked as Crawley brook. — This is a nameless brook arising 
about Woburn, running by Crawley, and falling immediately 
into the Ouse. But this proverb may be better verified of 
Ouse itself in this shire [Bedford], more meandrous than Meander, 
which runneth about 80 miles in i8 by land. Fuller, W, 
I, 167. 

As crooked as Tccton brook. Cf. In and out like Tecton brook. 
A Northamptonshire brook famous for its devious course. 
N. & Q., 12, III, 233. 

There is a winding stream at Hail Weston [Bedfordshire] near St. 
Neots, which is made useful in skin diseases, and in the com- 
parison is "as crooked as Weston Brook." The friend who 
tells me this has not been able to find anyone in the neigh- 
bourhood of St. Neots who knows anything about the crook- 
edness of Crawley. N. & Q., 5, XI, 54. 

As crooked as a dog's elboiv. CJis. Gloss. 

So crooked's a dog s hind-leg. Elworthy, WSG. Northall, 
FPh. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. As crookled as a dog's hint- 
leg. Lincoln, 1877, Folk-Lore, XLIII, 404. Cf. In and out 
like a dog's hindleg. N. & Q., 12, III, 116. 
As crookled as a dog-leg. A common saying. E. Peacock 
thinks that it probably refers to the carpenter's tool so called. 
It is a kind of claw used for holding a piece of wood firmly 
on a bench. Lincoln. Folk-Lore, ibid. 408. The above forms 
of the sim. make this very improbable. 

As twisted as a ram's horn. Nhp. FDD. 

Zo crooked's a ram's horn. Hewett, Dev. 10. — This is the 
modern form of the old sim. 'right as a ram's horn' rec. fr. 
c. 1307 {Sla7ig) to Ray. Its ironical character appears from 
one of Lydgate's poems, which, in H. M. McGibbon's Early 
English Poetry (London, 1887, p. 38) is called 'As straight 
as a Ram's Horn.' All verses end with this line, Conveyed 



— 279 — 

by line right as a ram's horn. St. iv, 1. 5 we read, "And 

charity is now a chief mistress, Slander from his tongue hath 

plucked out the thorn, Detraction his language doth repress, 

Conveyed by line &c." 

As crooked as a horn. EDD. 
An' used to go as boghedy as a night bee. Fenian Nights, 1893; 

boghedy, an Irish word meaning crooked, misformed. EDD. 
She shall have a hump on each shoulder; she shall be as crooked 

as a Crescent. Sheridan, R, II, i. 



Round. 

As round as a dmnpling. Lean, II, ii. See p. 183. 

Rounder than one of your own sausages. Carlyle, 1843, NED. 

Ase an Appel fje eorjse is round. 1290, NED. As rounde as an 
appille was his face. Chaucer, Rom. R. 819. (The original 
has, La face avoit com une pomme. Haeckel, 57). Cheeks 
that are fresh and round as lady apples. Hardy, HE, 25. 
See p. 183. 

As roimd as an orange. Brewer, Diet. 1079. 

As round as a bony. Grange, Golden Aphrod., 1577 (Lean, II, ii). 

§is, §is, seyd the wymbylle, I ame als roimde as a thynibyll. 14 . ., 
NED. This sense of the word rec. fr. 141 2. 

The boar was round as any clue. Lintoun Green, 1685, EDD. 

My masters, said I, it is no laughing matter; for if my master 
take you here, you goe as rou7id as a top to the pound. 
George a Green, Dodsley, I, 198. — This is a very interesting 
inst. of the development of a sim. A top is usually round, 
and it turns round, hence as round as a top. But in this 
case round means the same thing as roundly, without much 
circumlocution, straight, and thus the comparison with a top 
becomes very little appropriate. 

Pope Anicetus also commanded that priests' crown schould be 
shaven, not four-cornered, saith he, like unto Simon Magus, 
but as round as a bottle like ants. Becon, Wks, iii, 304, 1564 
(Lean, II, ii). 

As round as a kettle. Wesley, Maggots, 1685 (Lean, II, ii). 

As round as a Pontypool waiter. — "Pontypool, in the northern 
parliamentary division of Monmouthshire, was the original site 
of the manufacture of japanned tin ware, which, within vay 
memory, was popularly called Pontypool ware. Round waiter- 
trays of this ware must have been common enough in former 
days to give rise to the proverb". G. E. P., N. & Q., 1, XI, 
272. The manufacture of japanned goods was invented by 
one Thomas Allwood, a native of Northampton, who settled 
at P. in the reign of Charles II. The factory came to an 



— 2S0 — 

end in 1822, though a branch survived at Usk till 1S60. Enc. 
Brit. Cambr. Co. Geogr. Co. of Monmouth, p. 59. 

Lactantius . . held the earth round as a trencher . . . but not as a 
ball. Burton, AM, II, 49. More descriptive than intensifying. 
See Hard, p. 258. 

[The devil] smiled on me vvelfavouredly,/ Bending his browes as 
brode as a barn door,/ Shaking his eares as rugged as burres;/ 
Rolling his eyes as round as two bushels. Heywood, Four 
P's, Dodsley, I, 113. 

Round as a Jioop the bumpers flow. Gay, NS. What is said of 
'round as a top' largely applies here. In this case round must 
mean something like 'going round briskly.' See also 'round 
as a ball.' The sim. is also in Hewett, Dev. 12. 

Grosse as a hogge to be, round as a tun. Middleton, 1608 (Lean, 
II, ii). See p. 183. 

A neck which was smooth and round as a cylinder. Hardy, RN, 49. 

A fierce dilating eye, almost as round as a pistol-rivi in its wide- 
opened lids. Castle, IB, 129. 

As round as a bullet. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 
Bidlet, cannonball, fr. 1557. 

As romtd as a tennis ball. Lean, II, ii. 

jDe eorjDe a-midde ^e grete se ase a luyte bal is round. 1290, s. v. 
round, NED. Cf. Urthe is amidde the see a lute bal and 
round. 1300, NED. His heued ys rouned as a balle. 1340, 
NED. Roxburgh Ball., ii, 130 (Lean, II, ii). Brewer, Diet. 
1079. It is also used in a fig. sense: To lawe go they, as 
round as a ball, till both, or at least the one, become a beggar 
all dales of his life. Stubbes, 1583, NED. A little after, if 
the gentleman hath not wherewithall to pay as well the interest 
as the principall agreed vpon, whensoeuer this reprobate cut- 
throate demandeth it, then presently as round as a ball, he 
commenceth ... Sir W. Vaughan, The Goldeji Grove, c. 1600. 

As roond as a grun-stodn. Lin. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 410. 

As rotind as a windjnill. Roxb. Ball, ii, 303 (Lean, II, ii). 

Round as the globe her breast. Gay, NS. Globe rec. fr. 1551. 
The earliest inst. runs. But in a Globe (whiche is a bodie 
rounde as a bowle) there is but one platte forme &c. Recorde, 
NED. 

Bot abowte you a serkylle, as rownde as a nioyne. Townel. Myst, 
Moyne, moon, the usual spelling of the Townel. Myst. 
As round as the fidl moon. Lean, II, ii. 



High, Tall, Long. 

A Hieland blackguard, whom he'll hang up as higJi as Hauiait. 
Scott, RR, xxiii. Hang him as high as Haman, Anselm I 
Barham, IL, 59. In Esther, 7, 9 we read, And Harbonah . . . 



— 28l — 

said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, 
which Haman had made for Mordecai . . . Then the King 
said, Hang him thereon. 

The very stones of the road cast tapering dashes of darkness 
westward, as long as JaeV s teni-nail. Hardy, PBE, ii6. This 
is a reference to Judges, 4, 21, Then Jael Heber's wife took 
a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and 
went softly unto him [Sisera], and smote the nail into his 
temples, and fastened it into the ground. Cf. Nayle to be 
knockt into Seseraes head. Nashe, I, 84, 1589. Three nails 
driven into the head commemorated as many crises in Maggie's 
nine years of earthly struggle — that luxury of vengeance 
having been suggested to her by the picture of Jael destroying 
Sisera in the old Bible. Eliot, MF, 27. 

As long as Meg of Westminster, Fuller; Ray. "This is applied 
to persons very tall, especially if they have hop-pole height, 
wanting breadth proportionable thereunto." Fuller, W, II, 413. 
'Long Meg (of Westminster)' is mentioned as a term for a 
very tall woman in the New Cant. Diet., 1825, and in Grose, 
1785, and in the Edinb. Antiqu. Mag., Sept. 1769, we read 
of "Peter Branan, aged 104, who was six feet six inches high, 
and was commonly called Long Meg of Westminster." But 
the expression is also used of other things: Near the Cumber- 
land village of Little Salkeld there is a circle of stones called 
Long Meg and her daughters. — Long Meg of Westminster 
is the famous heroine of numerous i6th and 17th c. legends. 
"There is a penny story-book of this tremendous virago, who 
performed many wonderful exploits about the time when Jack 
the giant-killer flourished. She was buried, as all the world 
knows, in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, where a huge 
stone [called Long Meg] is still pointed out . . as her grave." 
Gifford's Ben Jonson, VIII, 78. In The Fortmzate Isles, 1624, 
Ben Jonson describes her in this way: — 

Westminster Meg/ With her boney leg, 
As long as a crane,/ And feet like a plane, 
And a pair of heels/ As broad as two wheels. 

And in Gayton's Festivous Notes on the History of . . Don 
Quixote, 1654, p. 289, we read: — 

I, Long Meg, once the wonders of the spinsters, 

Was laid, as was my right, i'th' best of minsters, 

Nor have the wardens ventured all the whiles 

To lay, except myself, one in those iles. 

Indeed, until this time, ne'er any one. 

Was worthy to be Meg's companion. 

But since Toboso hath so fruitful been 

To bring forth one might be my sister Twinne 

Alike in breadth of face ; no Margeries 

Had ever wider cheeks or larger eyes; 

Alike in shoulders, belly and ?n flanks', 



— 282 — 

Alike in legs too, for we had no shanks, 
And for our feet, alike from heel to toe. 
The shoemakers the length did never know. 

She was frequently referred to by the Elizabethans. Nashe 
and Harvey speak of her, and she is mentioned in Lyly's 
Pap with ail Hatchet, Middleton's Tlie Roaring Girl, V, i, 
Beaumont & Fletcher's TJie Scoriiful Lady, V, ii, Dekker's 
Westward Hoe, V, ii, and SM. In 1594 there was performed 
a play called Long Meg of Westminster. The earliest edition 
of the above mentioned penny story-book dates fr. 1582, and 
the Life of Long Meg of Westminster continued to be printed 
down to the beginning of last century, which bears witness 
to the great popularity of the stories concerning her many 
pranks. Dekker calls her "a goodly woman", but in Holland's 
Leager, 1632, mention is made of a house in Southwark, which 
is said to be "renowned for nothing so much as for the memor\- 
of that famous amazon Longa Margarita, who had there for 
many yeeres kept a famous infamous house of open hospitality." 
And according to Vaughan's Golden Grove, "Long Meg of 
W^estminster kept alwaies twenty courtizans in her house, whom, 
by their pictures, she sold to all commers". A woman of 
this character could hardly be buried in the cloisters of West- 
minster Abbey, and in Historical Description of Westminster 
Abbey, London, 1826, p. 189, it is expressly stated that the 
stone in question is called Long Meg from its extraordinary 
length. Henry Keefe, in his Momimenta Westmonasteriensia 
16S2, says, "That large and stately plain black marble (which 
is vulgarly known by the name of Long Meg of Westminster) 
. . . was placed here for Gervasius de Blois &c.". Another 
tradition assigns Long Meg as the grave of some monks who 
died in the plague in 1349 and were buried together. It is 
altogether improbable that this stone has given rise to the 
sim. Fuller thinks that it is rather a gun, called Long Megg, 
which in troublesome times was brought from the tower to 
Westminster (W, II, 413). It is true that we do not unfre- 
quently meet the names Mons Meg, Roaring Meg &c. desig- 
nating well-known guns, but none of them can have been 
more often spoken of and referred to than "the monstrous tall 
virago." The numerous allusions to her and the above-quoted 
descriptions quite justify what Grose says of the sim., "Whe- 
ther there ever was such a woman, is immaterial; the story 
is sufficiently ancient [and may it be added, well-known and 
widely spread] to have occasioned the saying. Provincial 
Gloss., ed. 181 1, p. 207. See Z<77/^ JA;f, Old Book Collector's 
Miscellany, Vol. 4, ed. Charles Hendley, and N. & O., 1850, 
passitn. 
The old lady is as ugly as any woman in the parish, and as tall 
and whiskery as a grenadier. Thackeray, BS, xxxiv. 



— 283 — 

I'll first see thy neck as long as my arm. Ray. Near as long 
as my arm. Richardson, P., i86. A grace as lang's my arm. 
Burns, 1786, NED. You're no witch if you don't see a cobweb 
as long as my arm. Edgeworth, 1836, Slang. N. & Q., 12, 
III, 116. Colloquial, NED. 

A sermon as long as my leg. Maclaren, YB, 120. Hewett, Dev. 11. 

As long as a thanksgiving sermon. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). Not in 
Thornton. 

Man, woman, and child wore then hair longer than a lawsuit. 
Dekker, GH, 31. And how long wast ere thou camest thither.^ 
Me thought 'twas long, as long as a suit hangs here in the 
law ere it be ended. Sharpham, F, V, 93. NED has no 
inst. of Lawsuit before 1624. Bleak House furnishes the clas- 
sical example of an endless lawsuit. Of interest is the different 
senses of long when used of laivsuit and hair. 

As long as a Welsh pedigree. Ray. Given as a "British or Welsh 
proverb." "So that any Welsh gentleman (if this be not a 
Tautology) can presently climb up the stairs of his pedigree 
into princely extraction.'' Fuller (Lean, II, ii). 

As for the barge, I'm clean tired out wi't, for it pulls the days out 
till they're as long as pigs' chitterlings. Eliot, MF, 269. 

As long as a breakfast. Baker, N'hants Gloss. (Lean, II, ii). 

Ez lojzg ez a parsons coat. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 

A pedigree as long as my walking-stick. Hardy, PBE, 142. 

'E's as hmg as a lather, an' as thin as a rail. Shr. EDD. Lo7ig 
of a tall person is now rare, except in jocular use (NED) and 
in several dial. 

As lo^ig as a halter. Massinger, Old Law, II, ii (Lean, II, ii). 

A whip as long as a fishing-line . Hardy, TM, 145. 

As long as a boat. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 

Winsinge she was, as is a joly colt. Long as a mast, and upright 
as a bolt. Chaucer, MiT, jj. Cf. Mast-high. 

Ez tall az a mill chiniley. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. 

As lung as the cJiimdey. Jackson & Burne, 595. Chimdey, 
another form of chimney. 

As high as a house. Habberton, Heloi s Babies, W. High houses, 
an allit. expr. fr. ME times. 

A fire of fir-wood as high as an indifferent May-pole. Taylor, 

PP, 53- 

As tall as a May-pole. Torriano (Lean, II, ii) 1666; Ray; of 
an overgrown slut. 

Heres one [a fiddle] aumost as long as a May-pole. King's 
& Queen's Entertainment, 1636, Materialien &c., II, 1903. May- 
pole rec. fr. 1554. Cf. maypole of a man &c. fr. 1590. The 
following passage perhaps explains the absence of later insts. 
"May-poles seem to have existed in most of our villages until 
the time of our great civil war. By an ordinance of the Long 
Parliament all May-poles were ordered to be removed, as heath- 



— 284 — 

enish vanities, 'generally abused to superstition and wicked- 
nesse'." E. Peacock, N. & Q., 6, VIII, 55. Now the old 
May-poles and May-pole dances have been revived. 

As tall as the Monument. Lean, II, ii. 

A shadow as long as a steeple. Hardy, UGT. 

A lilac shadow as tall as a steeple, ibid., TM, 102. 
As high as the steeple. N. & 0., 12, III, 116. 

As high as an abbey. Merry Devil of Edm., 1608 (Lean, II, ii). 

As high as Marlin toiver. A favourite sim. The tower of the 
church of St. Mary Magdalen at Taunton, one of the finest 
of our Somerset towers, is known as "Marlin tower" by all 
the country round. Elworthy, WSG, 463. 

As high as St. Patd's. Tomkins, Albiunazar, iii, 161 5 (Lean, II, ii). 
I'll take no wrong if he had a head as big as brass or looked 
as high as Pauls steeple. Porter, Tivo Angry Worn. (H., Old 
Engl. Plays, V, ii, 357) Lean, II, ii. See p. 149. 

(In Love's Court) where many a proper youth, thinking to rise 
aloft, is magnified till he look as high as Lincolne, climbing 
up by a ladder and a hempen cord higher than he would by 
half-a-yarde from the ground. Melbancke, /V^//(?/., 1583, (Lean, 
II, ii). — "Lincoln is situated on the summit and south slope 
of the lime-stonp ridge of the Clififhills which rises from the 
north bank of the river Witham ... to an altitude of 200 feet 
above the river. The cathedral rises majestically from the 
crown of the hill, and is a landmark for many miles. Form- 
erly the cathedral had 3 spires . . The spire on the central 
tower, which would appear to have been the highest in the 
world, was blown down in 1543." Enc. Brit. 

As high as Highgate Hill. Wesley, Maggots, 1685, (Lean, II, ii). 

As long as Deans Gate. H. Deans Gate, Manchester. — Market 
Street would have been more appropriate and better known. 

As long as Wimpolc street. Lean, II, ii. Wimpole, nine m. SW. 
of Cambridge. Does the sim. refer to the double avenue of 
elms leading up to Wimpole Hall 2 V* m- long? 

As long as a Devonshire lane (no turning). Lean, II, ii. 

Note. My full points seeme as tedious to thy puritane perusers as 
the Northern mans mile, and a waybitte. Nashe, III, 345, 1590. Cf. 
Essex stiles, Kentish miles, Norfolk wiles, many a man beguiles. 
Clarke (H). "A Kentish mile is, I believe, like the Yorkshire waybit 
and the Scottish 'mile and a bittock', a mile and a fraction, the 
fraction not being very clearly defined." H. 

He is tall and high like a cedar. Chapman, Mayday, i, iGii (Lean, 
III). Already the fourteenth c. quotations in NED speak of 
the cedar as a very high tree. 

Fair Galatea . . , tall as a poplar, taper as the Bole. Dryden, 
1697, NED. 
Shadows, tall as poplar trees. Hardy, RN, 254. 

They [genies] are as tall as a tree and as big around as a church. 
Twain, HE, 27. 



- 285 - 

Ez tall ez a btillrush. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 

A tale as long as to-day and to-viorn. Carr, Craven Gloss. (Lean, 

II, ii). 
As long as a ivet iveek in harvest. — Only farmers and their men 

can know how long that is, N. & Q., 12, III, 275. 
It is as high as heaven. Job, ii, 8. For as the heaven is high 

above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear 

him. Psalms, 103, 11. As high as heaven. Tennyson, 1864, W. 

Let his hopes rise, as high as heaven, before I bury them in 

dust and ashes. Phillpotts, P. 207. Heofon-heah in OE. 
As high above me as the moon in heaven. Alcott, Joe's Boys, 

352, W. 

There was an old woman toss'd in a blanket/ Seventeen times 

as high as the moon. Ritson, Ga^n. Gurtons Garl., 1783. 

Cf. I will delve one yard below their mines And blow them 

at the moon. Hamlet, III, iv. 

Note. Some G. sim. Lang: Der is su long, wei der Tog on Johanni: 
so lang als der Sonnwendtag; so lang als Jakobstag (July 21); wie 
politzer Hopfenstange (Politz, town in Pomerania), eine Bohnenstange, 
ein Baum, eine Latte &c. Hoch: Hoher als der Chimborasso ; so 
hoch als der stargarder Marienturm. Fr. Long comme un jour sans 
pain. Wander. Sw. Lang som en humlestang. 



Wide, Broad. 

Note. It is impossible to draw a line between the metaphorical 
sim. and a matter-of-fact comparison. 

Greedy mouth tvide gaping like hell-gate. Spenser, FQ, VI, x, 34. 
His deepe devouring jawes Wyde gaped like griesly mouth of 
hell. ibid. I, xi, 12. 

He made some obvious comments on the wide view warming to- 
wards its autumnal blaze that spread itself in hill and valley, 
wood and village below. "It's as broad as life,'' said Mr. R. 
Wells, AV, •]"]. See Large, 287. 

As broad as your back. Kingsley, W. Babies, W. Broad and 
back have been coupled alliteratively at least since Milton. 
See W. 

As broad as the chancery seal. Greene, Quip 8ic. (Lean, II, ii). 
Cf. How broad was the way to hell.f* As broad as the space 
between two lines in a Chauncery bill. Sharpham, F., V, 96. 
[The lawyers'] lines which gape wider than an Oysterwife's 
mouth, and straddle wider than a French-man's leg. CC, 5. 
See p. 21. 

As broad as a groat. Tusser, Husb., 1577. 

His chin was propped on a spreading cravat, which was as broad 
and as long as a bank-note. Twain, TS, 34. 



— 286 — 

There is a serpent in it. 'T'has eyes as broad as platters. Beau- 
mont & Fletcher, BB, V, i. See Large, large as saucers, p. 288. 

Nostrilles wider than barbers bashis. Randolph, Muses Looking 
Glass, 1668 (Lean, II, ii). Barber's b. rec. fr. 1755. 

Their feet . . . are as broad as a bushel. Topsel, 1607, NED. 

An equine amazon with a back as broad ^s a sofa. Hardy, WT, 94. 

A brooch she baar up-on his lowe coler, As brood as is the bos 
of a bocler. Chaucer, MiT, 79. Boss, the earliest inst. of this 
sense of the word. 

On hir heed an hat As brood as a bokeler or a targe. Lbid. 
Prol. CT, 470. Sea musculs are engendered of such quantitie, 
that many of them are as brode as buckelers. Eden, 1559, 
NED. 

Having faces as broad as the back of a cliimney and as big as a 
town bag-pudding. Nashe, III, 98, 1596. 

[The hurt] is not deep as a well, nor so icide as a diurch-door. 
Shak., RJ, III, i, 93. 

Bendinge his browes as brode as barn-durres. Heywood, 1547, 
NED. Cf. A mouth that opened as wide every time he spake 
as one of those old knit trap doors. Nashe, II, 247. 

With a pair of heels As broad as two wheeles. Skelton, El. Rmn- 
niyng, (Lean, II, ii). Ben Jonson has exactly the same ex- 
pression in The Fortunate Lsles. See p. 281. 

Wide as a ivindmill all his figure spread. Pope, Dunciad, II, 6. 
See p. 183. 

Wide as Rimside Moor. — Cf. I wadna be on Rimside Moor wi' 
a black pig by the tail. — These proverbial sayings the 
Northumberland yeomen are wont to recount on a dark and 
stormy night. It is a bleak heathy waste, stretching over the 
uplands behind Rothbury. To a Northumbrian the first ex- 
pression conveys an idea of indefinite extent. Denliavi Tracts, 
Folk- Lore, XXIX, 321. 

As ^vide as a week. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 

If I had a choice as wide as the ocean sea. Hardy, MC, 102. 
As wide as the river, or the sea. Cowan, PS, 39. 

As wide as the poles asunder. Lean, II, ii. Cf. Far as the poles 
asunder. Farquhar, The Beaux Strat., V, v, (N. & O., 5, 
III, 200). People . . . whose interests and hopes had been as 
wide asunder as the poles. Hardy, WB, 19. These Forsytes, 
wide asunder as the poles in many respects. Galsworthy, 
MP, 183. 

Open the gates as wide as the sky, And let King George and his 
lady go by. Northall, FR, 397. See High, p. 285. Cf. The 
ceiling was swelling and swelling just above him. It seemed 
as vast as heaven. Masefield, Multitude, 232. 



28; 



Large, Big. 

Note. Many of the following comparisons are probably not 
intensifying sim. See Note to the previous section. For other 
sini. with big (great) see Proud, p. 8i f., Intimacy, Familiarity, 
Ch. IV. 

As big as a Testament, a Psalter, a lady s prayer-book. 

As big as a poetry-book. — These four comparisons were noted 
down by the late Edw. Peacock. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. See 
Note above. 

As bigge as a beggar, as fat as a fool. AV, (Dodsley, xii, 348). 
See p. 1 12. 

A glorious crucifix . . . greater than the life. Evelyn, 1641. 

The picture is . . . bigger than the life. Johnson, 1758, NED. 
A flimsy kind of fan-painting as large as the life. Walpole, 
1771, NED. 

Statues bigger than life. Hogarth, 1753, NED. 
As large as life, and not made as a shipman's hose to serve 
for every leg. Wilson, Art of Rhet., 102, 1580 (Lean, II, ii). 
Dickens, L. Dor.., Edw. Drood, Sac. Hungerford, Lonely Girl., 
W. Rog. 

An imposing-looking Don, as large as life, and quite as natural. 
C. Bede, 1853, NED. 'Ere we are as large as life and twice 
as natural. White, SE, 56. Northall, FPh. Cf. Hallo! here's 
the governour, the size of life. Dickens, PP, I, 314. There 
was Mr. Woods behind the bar just as real as life. Bennet, 
BA, 31. — Of this sim. NED says: 'Life-size; hence humor- 
ously, implying that a person's figure or aspect is not lacking 
in any point.' 

As big as a Paignton puddiitg. — In the Railway Magazine for 
Jan. 191 3 there is an article on S. Devon describing the 
Paignton puddings: "P. [a seaside resort in the Torquay par- 
liamentary division of Dev.] is celebrated for its puddings. 
There was one in 1809 consisting of 400 lbs. of flour, 240 
eggs, 140 lbs. of raisins, and 170 lbs, of suet. It required . . . 
a team of oxen to draw it. The opening of the South Devon 
Railway in 1859 was also observed by a pudding. ... It 
was drawn by eight horses to the green at P., where a public 
banquet took place." N. & O., ii, VII, Z^ . 
But and I smell not you and a bawdy-house out within these 
ten days, let my nose be as big as an English bag-pudding. 
Decker, HWh, la, i. Faces ... as big as a town bag-pudding. 
Nashe, III, 98, 1596. Bag-pudding not rec. in NED before 
1598. 

As big as Ketherick's pie. — He was the first mayor of Plymouth 
in 1493, and the pie he had made for his inauguration ban- 



— 288 — 

quet was 14 ft. long, and an oven was built for the baking 
of it. Athenaeum, 11, IV, '']'] (Lean, II, ii). 

As big as RusseVs wagon. Cor. This was a huge wagon drawn 
by a team of six to ten horses, which plied from Cornwall to 
London. EDD. 

As big as bull-beef. Hewett, Dev. 11. Blakeborough, NRV, 242, 
in daily use. See p. 152, and 82. 

A face as big as a Jiam. Stevenson, TI, 32. 

The rain on her window-pane In drops as big as a shilling. Barham, 
IL, 118. Huge drops of rain fell at intervals, stamping his 
bald pate with .spots as big as halfpence, ibid. 519. 

I'll take no wrong if he had a head as big as brass. Porter, Two 
Angry Worn. 1599 (Lean, II, ii). See p. 113, and 82. 

Upon my conscience, she would see the devil first. With eyes as 
big as saucers. Massinger, 1655, Slang. The eyes of these 
Dogs as Jetzer thought . . ., were bigger than Saucers. 1679, 
NED. There sat the dog with eyes as big as saucers, glaring 
at him. Andersen's Fairy Tales (tr.), 1876, NED. Cf. The 
woman opened her eyes as ^w'rtV as saucers. Gissing, HC, 129. 
Had we no walking fire. Nor saucer-eyed devil of these woods 
that led us. Sucking, 1639, Slang. Les oyls granz com deus 
saucers. 13th c, NED. According to NED j^z/^^r in this case 
originally means 'a dish or plate in which salt or sauces were 
put on the table.' The usual modern sense of the word dates 
fr. the middle of the eighteenth c. 

Herr von Potzdorff was returning to life by this time, with a swelling 
on his skull as big as a saucepan. Thackeray, BL, ix. Saucepan 
fr. 1686. 

A face as big as a baking-trendle . Hardy, FMC, 260. — Baking- 
trendle is a large oval shallow tub in which bakers mix their 
dough. EDD. 

As big as a basket. Edw. Peacock (N. & Q., 12, III, 276). 

As big as a bushel. Very large. Suf. EDD. Cf. The sense re- 
presents the Sun no bigger than a bushel. Hale, 1677, NED. 
Cf. Round, p. 280, Broad, p. 286. 

As big as a Dorchester butt. Halliwell and NED. It is said to 
mean very fat. Butt, tub? 

As big as good barrels. Fulwell, Like will to Like {11., Old Plays, 
iii, 310; Lean, II, ii). I wish it was as big as a barrel, [a 
cake]. Twain, TS, 239. 

As big as a coiv. Herrick, Hesperides, iii, 1648. According to 
Lean, cow is a large wooden tub. This sense is recognised 
by EDD, which gives it as an Essex word; perhaps another 
form for cowl. 

As big as a tun. Interbide of Youth (H., Old Plays, ii, 6, Lean, 

II, ii). 
As big as the mouth of an oven. Wesley, Maggots, 115, 1658 
(Lean, II, ii). Cf. A fine oule's eye, a mouth like an oven. 



— 289 — 

DP, Dodsley, I, 278; and the term oven-mouthed used already 
by Harvey. 

His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys. Chaucer, Prol. 
CT, 559. 

A long apartment as large as a chapel and as low as a malthouse. 
Hardy, HE, 384. 

[The genies] are as big around as a church. Twain, HF, 27. Cf. 
A belly as big as the round church in Cambridge. Nashe, 
1592. As big as the High Church at Hull. — Used by a 
tramp. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 274. 

If you'll buy eggs we'll buy flour, We'll have a pudding as big 
as the tower. — Part of a Gloucester rhyme on St. Thomas 
day, Northall, FR, 229. 

Big as a house-side. Lin. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 407. N. & O., 12, 
III, 274. 

Packing-cases nailed up — big as Iwuses. Dickens, PP, I, 11. A 
golf-bag as big as a house. White, SE, 'j']. Hewett, Dev. 11. 

*' 'As big as a parsons barn is a Dorsetshire measure of magnitude, 
which happily begins to savour of antiquity, and ought, I 
think, to be recorded." N. & Q., i, XI, 7. 'Always ready 
for more' is sometimes added, it would seem. "In my child- 
hood the nickname of 'parsonage barn' was hurled at the head 
of any one of us who coveted and claimed more than his 
allotted share." Herrick, W. Dorset, (Lean, II, ii). — This 
refers to the large mediaeval tithe-barns, some of which are 
still standing, e. g. the great one at Abbotsbury, 1 1 miles 
from Portland, which is 276 feet in length. (Cambr. County 
Geogr., Co. Dorset, p. 127. N. & Q., 9, VI, passim). 
Hardy refers to them : A new studio . . as large as a medieval 
barn. WB, 277, and cf. The fuel-house was as roomy as a 
barn, ibid. RN, 146. 

She cot me a side of chease iv'ry bit as big as a bar7i-sidc. Lin. 
EDD, Barn- side not in NED. 

Faather maade a blotch upo' th' parlour floor as big as a barn- 
door. Lin. EDD. Cf. We . . offered a target like a barn- 
door. Stevenson, TI, Q']:, and barn-door practice, when the 
target is not to be missed. Slang. See Broad, p. 286. 

Teris . , as grete as eny mylstone. Beryn, 1400, NED. Qi. Mens 
eyes must milstones drop, when fooles shed teares. 1607, NED. 

As big as a dog. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. Edw. Peacock. Of what 
is this sim. used.*^ ' 

As big as a horse's head. Som. Alfred Stocks hes putten stoans 
upo' th' Scalla' laane as big as hoss-heads. Lin. EDD. There 
is also a sim. 'as ugly as a horse's head' of something awkward 
or shapelessly ugly. 

Alaunts, Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer. Chaucer, KnT, 
1291. 
A boor as greet as oxe in stalle, Chaucer, TC, V, 1469. Cf. 

i9 



— 290 — 

The sheapheards swayne you cannot wel ken, But it be by 
his pryde, from other men: They looken big as Bulls. Spenser^ 
1579. Slang. See Proud, 82. 

As big as a Christmas pig. Denham Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 90. 

She is as greatt as a whalle [my wife]. Townel. My St., lOO. 

The infernal villain! Tell me who he is, and if he was big ^.s alt 
outdoors, I'd walk into him. Haliburton, 1838. He is looking 
as big as all outdoors jist now, and is waitin' for us to come 
to him. Ibid., Slang. Does not this refer to a blustering and 
very stout-looking person.? 

What! Doth my head swell.? — Yea, as big as a codshead, and 
bleeds too. DP, Dodsley, I, 266. Does not this mean that 
the person in question has proved to be something of a cod's- 
head, i. e. a block-head? 



Small. 

As little as Tout Thumb. Ned Ward, Nupt. Dial. II, v, 17 10,. 
(Lean, II, ii). — The term Tom Thumb rec. in NED fr. 1579.. 

Mince me betwixt your teeth as small as Oatmeale. Nashe, II, 
186, 1593. Oatmeal fr. 1440. 

Nai7i, a dwarfe, . . one thats 710 higher than three horse-loaues. 
Cotgrave, 161 1, NED. As high as three horse-loaves. Ray. 
Heywood, PE, 24, has 'two h. /.' 'It was anciently a common 
phrase to say that a diminutive person was no higher than 
three horse-loaves. A phrase still current says such a one 
must stand on three penny-loaves to look over the back of a 
goat, or sometimes, a duck.' Halliwell. Cf. Hast thou such 
fear of fortune's frowns or of her whirling wheels,/ Who since 
thou wert three horse loves high hast tumbled at her heels. 
Fulwell, Ars Adul., 1579 (Lean, II, ii). 

He mince it as small as pie ineate. Dekker, OF, 113. Cf. Mince 
Your flesh to mites. Ford, LS, 156; and the phrase 'to make 
mince-meat of a person', to chop him into very small pieces, 
destroy him utterly, rec. in NP^D fr. 1663. 
Styr nat bot ye have lefe. For if ye do I clefe You small as 
flesh to pott. Townel. Myst., 142. 

As small as herbs to the pot. Day, He of Gvls, 1606; Morland, 
Account of The Evangelical Churches of Piedmorit, 1658 (H.). 
I'll chop you as small as aribs for the pot. Lover, Leg.y 
1848, Ir. Wor. EDD. In very small particles, like herbs pre- 
pared for cooking. 

A pill as small as a pease, Jonson, 1632, NED. 

A little bleb, no bigger than a pease. Bridges, 1894, NPLD. 
It is not unfrequently used in other comparisons to denote 
size: Men fynden summe [Dyamandes] as grete as a pese. 



— 291 — 

Maundeville, 1400, NED. It grows bigger, to the size of a 
large white Pease. Denham, 17 13, NED. 

A Httle scarlet spider, no larger than a vmstard seed. Baring- 
Gould, RS, 23. Among the Jews, 'small as a grain of mustard 
seed' was a common comparison. Folkard, PL, 452. 

A 'Shrimp' not as high as my hat. Barham, IL, 382. Used of 
'a youth, still in his prime'. 

Not so high as a pint-pot. Lyly, M. Bombie, 1594 (Lean, II, ii). 
Pint-pot fr. 1552. 

There is not one spark so big as a pin s head. Still, GGN, I, v. 
With hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins'-heads. Shak., 
KH IVa, IV, ii, 20. See also ibid. KH IVb, IV, iii, 48. 
Cf. 'to beat into pin-dust, to batter, scatter to p. d.'. See 
Jonson, Alch. p. 190, and NED. 

All looking as little as ninepins. Hardy, LLI, 273. Cf. You think 
you are the stronger; and so you are in a physical sense, now. 
You could push me over like a ninepin. Hardy, JO, 494. 
They chucked the blooming passengers across the blessed deck 
like so many dashed ninepins. The Royal Mag., '14, 285. 
It bowled him over like a ninepin. CasseV s Mag. of Fict., 
'14, 156. See Dead, p. 142, where some similar phrases are 
quoted. 

You are as small as the twitter of a twind rusky, a Taunt to a 
Maid, that would gladly be esteemd neat, and small. Kelly, 
Sc. Prov. 172 1, NED. Ramsay, 1858 (Lean, II, ii). Twitter, 
rec. fr. 172 1, is the thin part of unevenly-spun thread, and is 
fig. used for anything that is very slender, small, or feeble. 
Cf. She is a mere twitter. Jamieson. Sc. Ir. and n. Cy. Her 
waist was like a twitter, had nae curpeen for a creel. Lnk. 
EDD. 

Hewd and slasht he had been as small as chippings, if he had 
not . . . Nashe, III, 78, 1596. Chipping, small piece of any- 
thing chipped off, rec. fr. 1440. 

As liigh as a hog, all but the bristles. — Spoken of a dwarf in 
derision. Ray. 

I'd make mun look so small as ineeze. Well chow'd by our old 
cat. Dev. EDD. 

As big as a bee's knee. In a letter of 1797, N. & Q., 8, X, 260. 
He had a heart as big as a bee's knee. Of a person who 
was not noted for the generosity of his disposition. Used by 
an Irish nurse when the cor. was a little boy. N. & Q., 8, 
X, 199. Suff. Frequently heard in South Notts to indicate a 
very small piece of anything, N. & Q. ibid. Stf. War. Wor. 
Glo. EDD. Northall, FPh. "Colloquial comparisons which 
are familiar as household words in one family or district are 
quite unknown in another. I have just come upon a case in 
point in reading Mr. Locker-Lampson's 'Confidences'. In a 
foot-note, p. 98, speaking of an aunt, a nun at Bruges, he 



— 292 — 

remarks that, offering him, as a boy, some gift of slender 
dimensions, the nun said, 'Well, only this; it isn't so big as 
a bee's knee.' On this Mr. L. comments that he had never 
heard the simile before, nor had he since. . . I have known 
and used the simile ever since I was a small child." N. & Q., 
8, X, 92. 

Thou 'ashed me and smashed me as small as fliesj And sent me 
to Jamacia (!) to make mince-pies. N. & Q., 9, VII, 363. 

Ez larl ez fleabite. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. Larl, 
little. Fleabite of anything of very small consequence, fr. 1440. 

All his bones as small as sandy grayle He broke. Spenser, F'O, 
V, ix, 19. Gray I, gravel, rec. fr. Spenser to Browning. 

As little as a mote. Nobody and Soinebody, 1592 (Lean, II, ii). Mote, 
a minute particle of anything, rec. 1300 — 1725. 

I'll slice him as small as atoms. Dryden, L, VI, 58. Atom, the 
smallest conceivable fragment of anything fr. 1630. Cf. Atoms 
are not so small, as I will slice the slave, ibid. 107. 



Thin. 

Note. For. sim. with thin, referring to a lean person, see p. 
185 ff 

Our lands and glebes are clipped and pared to become as thin as 
Banbury cheese. On the Sad Condition of the Clergy in Ossory, 
1664, N. & O., I, XI, 427. Cf. I never saw Banbury cheese 
thick enough, but I have often seen Essex cheese quick enough. 
Heywood, PE, 5th Hundr. No. 24. See p. 185. 

As thin as a wafer. Xmas Prince, i, 1607 (Lean, II, ii). Slices 
of bread and butter, thin as wafers. Hardy, PBE, 135. Brewer, 
Diet., 1220. 

Were not heavenly grace that did him blesse. He had been pouldred 
all as thin z.i, flowre. Spenser, FO, I, vii, 12. 

As thin as halfpenny ale, 2d a quarter. Northall, FPh. See p. 186. 

Another thread of light, as fine as a needle and as faint as a 
phosphorescence. Stevenson, NAN, 322. 

As fine as Kerton spinyting. See Soft, p. 267. 

The wire is as thin as a thread. Barham, IL, 350; ibid. 354 of 
gold. 

[The autograph of P.] in trembling Hnes as fine as silk. Hardy, 
HE, 431. Her fair hair, fine as silk, just wound from a 
cocoon. Baring-Gould, RS, 183. See Soft, p. 266. 

Ez femmur ez musiveb. Femmur, slight, slender. Miisweb, mouse- 
web, cobweb. Blakeborough, NRY, 243. Cf. So diinn ime 
Spinneweb. Wander. 

Zo thick's a stick. Hewett, Dev. 

A streak of fire as narrow as a corn-stalk. Hardy, Lao., 85. 

Ez thin ez a bubble skin. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 



-- 293 — 
Thick. 

Note. Sim. with thick referring to frequency are given under 

that heading, Ch. IV. See also hitimacy &c. ibid. 
As thick as mould butter. Nashe, Terrors of the Night; used of 

misty air. 
Damn this fog, it is lying as thick 2:1, pea- soup on the water. Conrad, 

Romance, 241. Pea-soup rec. fr. 171 1. Cf. A pea-soup fog 

in March is going a little too far &c. Westm. Gas. 1899, 

NED. The pea-soupy character so distinctive of these [fogs] 

in cities. Sharp, 1883, NED. 
Brought in the red ruddocks and the grummel seed as thick as 

oatmeal. Nashe, III, 174. 
As thick as loblolly. Loblolly, any thick spoon-meat. Forby, Voc. 

of East Anglia, 1830. The word is rec. fr. 1597. 
As thick as stirrow. Chs. Gloss. Stirrow, stirabout, a kind of 

porridge. 
As thick as porridge. — Very thick in substance, muddy, not clear. 

A sim. often applied to beer. Yks. EDD. 
Lizzy, this yer milted butter idden made vittee; tez za thick' ^ 

stodge; nobody can't ayte et. Hewett, Dev. 12. Sometimes 

also used of a fog. Cor. EDD. 

As thick as todge. Suffolk Notes and Queries, i^'J'J [Folk- 

Lore, XXXVII). Also in Oxf., used ol porridge. Todge, stodge, 

any thick mass of semi-liquid nature. 
They have in the West a thick sort of ale which they call grout 

ale (or white ale), and it is in many places a common proverb, 

"As thic}t as grout.'' Bp Kennet, Lansdown MSS, 1694 (Lean, 

II, ii). See Sweet, p. 307. 
A fresh crop of feathers came thick as a 7nat. Barham, IL, 156. 

Cf. A very heavy mat of sandy hair. Stowe, 1852, NED. 
In lyknes of a gret serpent, the tayl as grete and thykk as a barel. 

Mel. 297, 
A bank as thick as a tvall. Hardy, HE, 401. 
As thick as loood. This flannel has run up as thick as wood.; 'to 

run up' being to shrink. Lin. N. & O., 12, III. 275. 
As thick as gutter mud. Northall, FPh. 11. Zo thick's mud. 

Hewett, Dev. 12. 

The dull billowes thick as troubled mire. Spenser, FQ, II, 

vi, 20. Sleet brings down t'chim'la seut-drops thick as mire. 

Dickinson, 1876, EDD. 
The fog . . . hanging like a heavy pall as 'thick as a hedge'. Daily 

News, 1892, NED. 



J94 — 



Full, Crowded. 

Note. For some sim. with full, having eaten and drunk one's 
fill, see pp. 185, 195, 199, 203, 206, 212. See also Near^ 
Close; Intimacy, Familiarity, Ch. IV. 

As thrang as three in bed, they were wedged in that neet. Ander- 
son, Ballads, 1808, Chs. EDD. NED has an inst. of 1770. 
Thrang, throng, crowded, full, pressed for space, fr. 1400. 
Cf. As thick as three in bed. Middleton, 1599 (Lean, II, ii). 
Uls. Lin. Oxf. EDD. See Intimacy, Ch. IV. 

A goodly man, full fed and corpulent, FilVd like a bag-pudding 
with good content. Taylor, DS, 8. 

A right good fellow, free of cap and leg, Of compliment as full 
as any egg. Taylor, DS, 8. Full as an egg was I with glee. 
Gay, NS. Foote, 1764, NED. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in 
daily use. 

An egg is not so ftdl of meat, as she is full of lies. Still, 
GGN, V, ii. Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full 
of meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as an 
sgg fo'' quarrelling. Shak., RJ, III, i, 21. Ray. Jeffreys, in 
1685, in sentencing Baxter, declared that his books were as 
full of sedition as an egg is of meat, H. Wesley, Maggots, 
1685 (Lean II, ii). The following' passage contains an allusion 
to this sim., " 'Tis all the hatched out egg of the Lord. Full 
of m(;at — full of meat are his ways." Phillpotts, AP, 370. 
Cf. the following iron. sim. Ye be as full of good matter as 
an eg;ge is of ote rnele. Whitinton, Vnlg., 1520 (Lean, II, ii). 
Some call me dunce; another saith, my head is as full of 
Latin, as an egg's full of oatmeal. Greene, FEB, 236. As 
full of reason as an egge full of mustard. Sir Thomas More's 
Eng. Wks, p. 582. Cf. Voll ivie ein Ei. Wander. Plein 
comme un oeuf. Meurier, 1558 (Lean, II, ii). Also It. Sw. 

As full as a pipe7-'s bag. Ray. Ben Jonson, Tale of a Tub, V, 
iii, Barth. Fair, IV, iv. Cf. An enormous canvas bag full 
and rotund as the moneybag of the giant whom Jack slew. 
Hardy, LLI, 139. 

As thrunk as CJieddle Wakes; no ream areat. Chs. EDD. 

As thrunk as Eccles wakes. The saying is current in Lanca- 
shire, but more especially in the vicinity of Manchester, from 
which Eccles is only four miles and a half distant. H. 
As throng as Knott Mill Fair. Manch. H. 
Ommost as threng as a fair. Yks. EDD. 

The rooms as /}^// of company as ^jail. Dekker, GH, 50. Descrip- 
tions of jails in Dickens and e. g. Goldsmith, VW, show us 
the old time prisons deplorably crowded. 

The house seems to be as full as a rabbit-ivarren. Doyle, SF", 



— 295 — 

104- Cf. It is almost as thickly populated as a rabbit-warren. 
Reeves, 1892, NED. 

He was as full of love and paramour/ As is the hyve full oi honey 
swete. Chaucer, CT, 8, Cf. the transf. use of hive for a place 
swarming with busy occupants, rec. in NED fr. 1634. 

As full as a toad is of poison. Ray. See p. 140. 

As full as a bee with thyme. Herrick, Hesp., 1648 (Lean, II, ii). 

As fill as a tick. Ray, Pegge's Derbicisms, Ed, Skeat,, 129. 
Northall, FPh., 8; Nicholson, Folk-Speech of E. Yorkshire; 
N. & Q., 8, IX, passim. 12, III, 133, Northall explains this 
as being the bed-tick. W. Watson, N. & O., 1. c, p. 294, 
seems to think that it is the small kind of horse-bean so called, 
and cites from Cum. a parallel expression, 'as full as a fitch', 
fitch being a local form of vetch. "This undoubtedly refers 
to the parasite, not to the bed-tick, 'As full as a louse' is 
a common variant, and can have but one meaning." C. C. 
B., N. & Q,, 8, IX, 65, See also Nicholson. Cf. the G. sim. 
He is so dick as e7ie Teke (as thick as a tick), Osnabriick; 
Voll wie eine Zecke, which means exactly the same thing as 
our sim. See p. 185. 

As full as a fitch. Cum. Yks. Lan. Also 'as fat &c.' EDD, 

As full [of conceit] as the moon. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). 



Empty, Hollow. 

Note. See Hungry, p. 180, 182. 

Es empty as a blaivn egg. Blakeborough, NRY, 241. 
As toom as an egg-shell. Yks. EDD. See p. 48. 
The whole world is as empty as an egg-shell. Stowe, UTC, 358. 

As holloiv as a chtirn. Der. EDD. 

How should a woman who is as empty as a drum, talk of any 
other subject. Johnson, 1778, NED. 

As hollow as a drum. Lean, II, ii. — On the other hand vi'e 
have the Sc, cp, sim. drum-fou, 'chock-full', as full as a drum. 
"The things he sent him . . . held a' oor hoose drum-fou for 
better than a fortnicht." Lth. 1892, EDD. Has this sim. 
any connection with the sim. given p. 203, 'as drunk as a 
drum'.? A development from 'as full as a drum' to 'as drunk 
&c.' is quite possible. 

As hollow as a gtin. Ray. See Sure, Ch. IV. 

As holloiv as a tfunk. Quoted in Lean, II, ii; source not identi- 
fiable. Tf'unk has a variety of meanings that may fit the 
context. It may refer to any kind of pipe, or tube, or shaft. 

I have brought you to the mouth of the world's treasure-house, 
and it is your own fault now if you don't sweep it as empty 
as a stockfish. Kingsley, WH, 8. A very puzzling phrase. 



— 2g6 — 

Is the stockfish empty or thin-bellied in the same way as the 

herring is said to be so. See p. 189. 
I do think him as concave as a covered goblet or a worm-eaten 

nut. Shak., AYL, III, iv, 22. 
As hollow as a kex. A kex is a dried stalk of hemlock, or of 

wild cicely. Ray. It's hollow as a homlick. Nhb. Nearly 

all the large Umbelliferae are called hemlocks. 
The parish was vacant as a desert, most of its inhabitants having 

gathered inside the church. Hard}-, JO, 194. See Lonely, 

Ch. IV. 
As empty as air. Brewer, Diet. 417. 



Heavy. 

The Yorkshire puddin' is noan light. It's as sad as a waiver's 
clog. Hocking, MF, 26. Sad, massive, heavy, obs. since c. ' 
1650. Used of 'heavy, close bread' it is rec. fr. 1688, but 
now only dial. Cf. They gev us breed as sad as bull liver. Dur. 
EDD. As sad as liver. N. & O., 12, III, 116. As sad as 
a dtmipling. Yks. EDD. And see below. 

Eyes sunken deep, under lids heavy tis pot-covers. Hardy, JO, 152. 

The timber, heavy as an iron safe. White, BT, 16. 

Lifting her eye-lids, heavy as window-shutters. Hardy, HE, 14. 

His hand more sad than lump of lead. Spenser, FQ, II, viii, 30; 
ibid. II, i, 45. 

To those that . . tell you . . I am but as a feather, I shall be 
found sadder than lead. Strafford, 1638, NED. This here 
bread's as sad as lead. Cmb. Nhb. NED. 
My hede is as hevy as lympe of leede. Cov. Myst. (Lean, II, 
ii). Our hearts, as heavy as lead lumpes. Udall, RRD, 27. 
It [supper] lies As heavy in my body as moult lead. Barry, 
RA, V, i. 

The weght of wickedness {)t makis goure herts heuyere {)an 
lede. c. 1340, NED. Me thynke myne eyne hevye as lede. 
c. 1440, NED. If that my hert wax hevy as leyde. Townel. 
Myst. p. 37. Insts of c. 1515, 1550, 1568 in Lean, II, ii. 
[Imagine themselves to be] as heavy as lead. Burton, AM, I, 
444. Hardy, FMC, 3 (of ground), ibid. TT, ']'] (of clothes). 
Doyle, SF, 72 (heart); Linen tablecloth, that were, collectively, 
as heavy as lead. Wells, Kipps, 41. Hewett, Dev. ii; North- 
all, FPh. 9, &c. 

Each heart as heavy as a log. Cowper, 1786, NED. 

I grete with myn eene as heavy as a sod. Townel. Myst. 



297 



Light. 

The carriage is light enough . . . light as vanity; full of nothing. 
Hardy, PBE, 438. 

As light as the Queen s groat. Adagia, 1622 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 
'as light as a clipped angeV . Dekker, HWh. Angel, a gold 
coin worth about ten shillings, very often clipped, and there- 
fore light; the subject of many a wretched pun with the Eliza- 
bethans. But what does the Queen s groat refer to? Cf. He 
. . swore . , that I should not leave till his purse was as light 
as eleven pence. Pratt, 1775, NED. 

He [a dream] back returning by the Yvorie dore. Remounted up 
as light as cheerful Larke. Spenser, FQ, I, i, 44. See p. 159. 

I am as light as a kite when anything's going on. Hardy, RN, 
170. See p. 182. 

Every elf and fairy sprite. Hop as light as bird from brier. Shak,, 
MND, V, ii, 382. The oracle would bound . . and subside 
on the other side into the trough as lightly as a bird. Stevenson, 
TI, 89. See p. 160. 

Oh the times when my heels have capered over the stage as light 
as a Fittches feather. SC, 4. 

"Nothing is lighter than 2. feather, Kit." "Yes, Clim." "What 
light thing is that?" "Thy light wit." Heywood, PE, 242. 
As light as a feather. Nashe, III, 190, 1599. Glorious semeth 
love, though light as a feather. Byrd, 1598, Lied., 25. Con- 
tentioft betw. Lib. & Prodig., 1602 (Lean, II, ii). Clarke. 
One thinks himself a Giant, another a Dwarf; one is heavy 
as lead, another is light as a feather. Burton, AM, I. 463. 
ibid., 444. There are old Engl, and Lat. epigrams of the 
i6th or 17th cent, stating that lighter than a feather is the 
wind, than the wind, fire, than fire, a woman's mind, which 
is the lightest of all things. N. & Q,, 3, X, passim. Hewett, 
Dev,, 11; Northall, FPh, 9. 

As light 2iS flocks. Gascoigne, Wks, i, 114, ante i$77 (Lean, II, ii). 

[A canoe] light as an egg-shell and as fragile. London, DS, 288. 

Her shoulder touched his as lightly as a butterfly touches a flower. 
London, ME, 179. 

Ez leet ez a midge. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. Midge, 
any small gnat-like insect. In some n. Cy dial, anything very 
small is called a midge. Cf. the fig. use of midge's wing in 
the following passage. There is a foundation for the other 
part of the story, though no larger than a midge's iving. Scott, 
1808, NED. 

As light as z. fly. Withals, 1616 (Lean, II, ii), Ray. Cf, not to 
care a fly. 

His touch was 2iS light 2lS gossamer. Hornung, TN, 134. Gossamer 
is applied to something light and flimsy fr. c. 1400. NED. 



— 298 — 

We shall be wirnow'd with so rough a wind/ That even our corn 
shall seem as li^lit as chaff j And good from bad find no 
partition. Shak.,' KH IVb, IV, i, 94. 

As light as a kex. Hej-wood, PE, iv, 47. Still a common ex- 
pression in Dunmow and North Essex. N. & 0., 5, X, 56. 

As light as thistudown. Lean, II, ii. A boy's fancy, light as thistle- 
seed; and a boy's head is as a full of fancies as a thistle is of 
seed, Baring-Gould, RS, 276. 

\Vas neuere lef upon lynde lyghter therafter. Langland, PPl, c, 
ii, 150. Be ay of chere as light as leef on linde. Chaucer, 
CIT, 121 1. Syne vp and doun, als lycht as leif of lynd. 
Stewart, Chron. Scot., 1535, NED. Cf. May hit murgeth 
when hit dawes, . . ant lefis lyght on lynde. c. 1300, NED. 
A what I am liglit as lynde. Townel. Myst., 80. Cf. lason 
as lentylle as euer was the lynde. c. 1460, NED. Why is 
the lind or linu;-tr(,'e called light or gentle.'* 
As lyght I me feylle as leyfe on a tre. Toivnel. Myst., 107. 
Another 15th c. inst. in W. 
As light as leaves. Ch. Bronte, Shirley, II, 169, W. 

As light as froth. Davis, Sc. of Folly, 161 1 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 
the fig. use of froth for something insubstantial or of little 
worth. 

As light as the wifid. Interl. of Youth (H., Old Plays, II, 13; 
Lean, II, ii). Cf. Her nimble wings displaid, And flew away 
as lightly as the wind. Spenser, FQ, IV, viii, 7. Touching 
him with her fingers lightly as a breeze. Hardy, Tess, 307. 

Loud silly talk . . Vain .is air, and ligJit ^% air. Phillpotts, M, 328. 

Every footstep fell As lightly as a sunbeam on the water. Long- 
fellow, SSt, I, i. 



Deep, Low. 

Note. For some sim. with deep see p. 27 ff. 

This filth within being cast, he would appear A pond as deep as 
Jiell. Shak., MM, III, i, 90. If the bottom were as deep as 
hell, I should down. ibid. MW, III, v., ii. In caves as deep 
as hell. Massinger, VM, 25. Cf. Helle is . . dyep w^-oute 
botme. 1340, NP2D. 

Let the labouring bark climb hills of seas Olympus liigh and 
duck again as loiv As hell from heaven. Shak., Oth., II, i, 
184. P'all as low as hell. ibid. Hamlet, III, iii. Those proud 
palaces, that even now vaunted their tops from heaven, were 
dejected as low as hell. Burton, AM, I, 418. 

As deep as a cup. Lean, II, ii. In what way can a cup be said 
to be remarkably deep.'* 

As deep as a draw-tvell. H. The draw-well at Carisbrook Castle, 
Isle of Wight, is 160 feet deep. 



— 299 — 

Rom. The hurt cannot be much. Mer. No, 'tis not so deep 

as a well, nor so wide as a church-door. Shak., RJ, III, i, 93. 

Blakeborough, NRY, 342. According to Blakeborough it is 

chiefly used in a fig. sense. See p. 35. 
As deep as Pedwell. Denham Tracts, Folk- Lore, XXIX, 7. 
As deep as Currie well. Howell, 1659. Lean, II, ii). A river 

south of Edinburgh. 
As deep as Chelsea Reach. See p. 33. 



Steep. 

[The way down a hill] is as steep as ^pent-house. Walton, CA, 308. 
A hill so steep as the 7-idge of a house. Taylor, PP, 46. 

The hills are as steep as house-roofs. Baring-Gould, RS, 65. 

The chief graveyard slopes up as steeply as a roof behind 

the church. Hardy, JO, 250. 
Ez brant ez a hoos end. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. 

Ez brent's a hoos-sahd. Clevel. Gloss., 64. 



Dry. 

Note. For other sim. with dry see Thirsty, p. 189. 
As dry as Davids heart. Used by a maid (a native of Oxford- 
shire) in reference to handkerchiefs which had been washed. 

Possibly a reference to Ps, 102, 5. 
Ez dry ez a sarmon. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 
As dry as a remainder biscuit After a voyage. Shak., AYL, II, 

vii. See p. 48. Her eyes are as dry as a campaigner's 

biscuit. Mason, PK, 165. 
A sudden shower fell ... he remained as dry as a toast, for an 

eagle had kindly spread his wings for an umbrella over him. 

Brewer, DFF' (Northall PR, 441). See Hot, Warm, p. 310. 
I've sucked Widecomb as dry as an empty egg-shell. Phillpott.s, 

WF, 16. See Empty, p. 295. 
But our spirits they cannot touch, for nhey nevare understand. 

Without that. Monsieur, all is dry as parched skin of orange. 

Galsworthy, IP, 70. 
As dyy as the clerk of the limekilne. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). 

Thirsty.? 
As dry as a lime-burners wig. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). See p. 189. 
As dry as a lime-basket. See p. 190. 
As dry as a baking- spittle. Baking-spittle, a thin spade-shaped 

board with a handle used in baking oat-cakes. 
Lene he wexe, and drye as eny schaft. Chaucer, KT, 1362. The 

wooden part of an arrow. 
Dry as iron. e. Suf. EDD. 



— 300 — 

]\Iy clothes were as dry as a botie. Taylor, WV, 7. Ray. It's as 
dry as a bone. Marryat, 1833, NED. "A very good, high- 
principled man." "He may be all you say; but he's as dry 
as a bone!' Phillpotts, M, 74, It was as dry as a bone until 
just as that wave came along. White, BT, 319. Here's a 
snugg cubby-hole I've found — dry as a bone. Phillpotts, 
AP, 305. This is the almost invariable sim. to express the 
superlative of dryness. Elworthy, WSG. Hewett, Dev. 1 1 . 
Baumann. Cf. the cp sim. bone-dry. 

As dry as a Jiorn. Sc. n. Yks., NED. See Hard, p. 261. 

That hand has wonderful powers of itself. It is a thing alive, 
though dead and dry as leather. Baring-Gould, BS, 201. 

As yeWs the bill. Burns, 1786, NED. As milkless, or dry as a 
bull. See p. 48, f. 

As dry as a post-horse. Woman turned Bully, III, ii, 1675 (Lean, 
II, ii). Thirsty? 

As drie as an eel-skin. Dekker, OF, no. Eelskin rec. fr. 1562. 
Cf. the cp sim. skin-dry. 

I will drain him as dry as hay. Shak., Mb, I, iii, 18. 

Sapless as a kix. The Women s Petition against Cojfee, 1674, NED. 
As dry as an old kecksy. Lin. 1886, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 408. 
An ye bydde mee, chill squease as drie as a kyxe. Resp.,. 
61. Miserly and dry as a kix. Bernard, 1598, NED. Jackson 
& Burne. Cooper's Suss. Voc. Baker's North. Gloss. Probably 
in many other dialects besides. "The word [kex] seems of 
universal acceptation; supplying all the kingdoms through a 
simile for what is withered". Hartshorne, Salopia Antiqua 
(Bridge, CP, 17). The sim. is also in Welsh. See p. 190. 
The word has some other forms beside those given in EDD. 
See EngliscJie Studien, XXX, 381 f. Cf. also the Norfolk, 
Suftblk adj. kisk, dry, thirsty. "In the dialect of Lindsey, and 
I believe throughout a great part of England, kex means the 
hemlock; but as the people who use the folk-speech are no 
botanists, the word is often applied to any plant somewhat 
like a hemlock, the stalks of which stand up hard and dry 
in the winter.'' N. & O. See Empty, Hollow, p. 296. 

As dry as hamlmcks. Hambuck, the dry fibrous stalk of hemp, 
after having been peeled. Ed. Moor, Siijfolk Wds & Phrases, 
190, Folk-lore, XXXVII. 

It was dry as a stick, hard as a stone, and cold as a cucumber. 
Gray, 1760, NP^D. Hewett, Dev. 11. 

He was accurate, unemotional, and valuable. All his actions were 
as dry as the sazvdnst in the burner. White, BT, 355. 

As dry as a chip. Withals, 1616 (Lean, II, ii). And that Maiden's 
lip That was made to sip. Should here grow withered and dry 
as a chip. Barham, IL 314. It also means thirsty, "Ah's 
as dry as a chip." e. Yks. EDD. See Laughing, p. 79, Merry, 
P- 77' 



— 3or — 

Gonzales, dry as Touchzvood, with all its inflammability. Malkin, 

1809, NED. 
Wod dry as toimdere. 1475, NED. Lundsay, Dream, (Lean, II, 

ii). The interior was as dry as tinder. Doyle, R, 356. ibid. 

332 (ot a withered beech tree). 
Wit Revived, or a New and Excellent Way of Divertisement . . . 

by Asdryasdust Tossofacan, 1674. N. & 0., 5, XII, 277. Rev. 

Dr. Dryasdust is well-known since the Waverley novels. 

Frequently used by Carlyle, who says that "the Prussian 

Dryasdust . . . excels all other Dryasdusts yet known." (NED), 

and he seems to have coined the adj. dryasdustic. Evolution 

was a dry-as-dust theory. London, ME, 109. Zo dry's dust. 

Hewett, Dev. 1 1 . 
Those were the last kind words I got for ten long years, and my 

heart all withered up and felt as dry as ashes till I met you. 

Stowe, UTC, 226. 

i^ote. Dtirr wie ein Jagdhund, Hering, Zaunstecken, eine Schindel, 
ein Staket, Stroh &c. draige asse Pulwer, So driige as en Stock Holt 
&:c. Zoo droog als een puimsteen; zoo droog als poeder. Wander. 
Some of these also mean 'thin, lean'. 



Inflammable. 

As injlammable as a beehive. Hardy, DR, 205. 

The grass was as inflamfnable as tinder. Baker, 1867, NED. 



Wet. 

Ez damp ez t' graav. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 

The ordinary current sense of the adj. is rec. only fr. 1706. 
As ivet as a sop. WL. Cf. such phrases as 'all of a sop', very 

wet, and the adj. sopping, soppy. 
Everything is as zvet as a dish-clout. Hardy, HE, 424. Blakeborough, 

NRY, 240 in daily use. Cf. Zo limp's a dish-clout. Hewett, 

Dev. II. Blakeborough NRY, 242, in dail}^ use. See Weak, 

Ch. IV. 
Ez wet ez 7iew pent. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. Pent, 

paint. 
Ez da^np ez a cellar. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. Cf. 

The damp cellar's stifling air. Bryant, 1877, NED. In a 

moyst seller. Stubbs, 1583. 

As donk as a dungeon. Robinson, Whitby Gloss. 1855. 
Ez zvet ez a ;w7/-w/^^^/.Blakeborough, NRY, in daily use. 
As ivet as thatch. Chs. Gloss. As wet as thack. Lin. 1877, Folk- 

Lore, LXIII, 411. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. The straw with 

which buildinss or stacks are thatched is wetted before it is 



— 302 — 

laid on, to make it bed properly. Cf. He's as wet as a 
thaicher. Bridge, CP, 26. 

As %vet as litter. N. & Q., 12, III, 116. 

"Mow did you find yourself when you got home, sir?" "How, 
why tvet as muck." Burney, 1782; Wolcot, 1886, NED. If 
a Scottish southland shepherd comes soaking wet from the 
hill, or a farmer from the plough in the same condition each 
will describe himself as being as wet as muck. N. & G., 5, 
IX, 73. "As wet as muck" is a vulgarism not unknown to 
me. ibid., 2, III, 383. Slg, 1818, Cum. Wm. Som. 1894, EDD. 
When shall we get into our new offices?" "Not till March 
is past, they are still as wet as muck." War. FIDD. Jackson 
& Burne. Lin. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. 'As wet as a muck' 
is also found. Cf. muck-wet. Mtick now chiefly dial, and vulgar. 

Zo wefs dung. Hewett, Dev. 13. Oxf. EDD. 

Wet as sore. Yks., 1900, EDD. Sore, or saur, liquid manure, 
fr. the middle of the fifteenth c. 
Wet as a tvater-dog. Lan. EDD. 

Peas and beans are as dank here as a dog. Shak., KH IVa, 
II, i, 8. 

As wet as a drozimed kitten. Lan. EDD. 

As wet as a drowned rat. T. Heywood, Fair Maid &c., II, ii. 
(Lean, II, ii). I got on shoare as wet as a drowned Rat. 
Wadsworth, 1630, NED. N. & O., 12, III, 276. "i. e. soaking 
wet. Drowned rats certainly look deplorably wet, but so also 
do drowned mice, cats, and dogs." Brewer, Diet., 383. See 
above, and cf. p. 207. 

Wery and wet as bestys in the rayn. Chaucer, RT, 187. 

It reened all the wee, an ah'm as wr/'s a robin. Lei. EDD. 

I am as ivet as a shag and as cold as charity. Marryat, 1835,. 
NED. Came home in the middle of the day 'as wet as a 
shag', it having come on to pour. Hawker, 1841, NED. 
Halliwell, South. "As wet as a shag'' is a common expression 
taken from the idea of a cormorant, diving frequently under 
the water. Suss. EDD. One can understand a sea-bird being 
taken as a type of wetness, but how can a robin be regarded 
as wetter than anything else? 

He be so wet as a frog. Phillpotts, AP, 14. 

As wet as a fisJi. Cowan, PS, 38. Brewer, Diet. 1243. Cf. 'dry 
as a fish', p. 190. 

Ez wet ez sump. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. Sump, a bog. 

As wet as drip. Peacock, Lin. Gloss. I maad my sark as wit 
as drip. Yks. '"Drip' here may mean snow, as it does in 
Lancashire. In its other sense it means the fat that exudes 
from fried bacon." N. & O., 12, III, 276. According to 
EDD it means, in this .sim., anything that falls in drops. See 
White, p. 238. 



303 



Bitter. 

Note. For sim. referring to a bitter temper, see p. 95 ff. 
Most of the following sim. are chiefly used in a transf. sense. 

Those fond imaginations . . . most pleasing and amiable at first, 
but bitter as gall at last. Burton, AM, II, 120. See also 
ibid. I, 281, 420. Ray; Hewett, Dev. 11; Blakeborough, NRY, 
242, in daily use. See below, 'bitter as sloes'. Dutch, Zo 
bitter ah gal. Stoet, NS, I, 208. Cf. also Ipso bile arnariora. 
[Volnptatunt exitus] as bitter as gall and tvormwood. Burton, 
AM, I, 333. Cf. All this was gall and wormwood to the 
heart of Gabriel Grub. Dickens, PP, II, 42. A Bill the very 
idea of which is gall and wormwood to the Protestant artisans. 
Times, 1893, NED. 

Plaisant at first she is [madness on woman] . . . the rest as bitter 
as wormwood in the end . . . and sharps as a two-edged sword. 
Burton, AM, I, 338. Words far bitterer than wormwood. 
Butler, H, 6']. My Hfe is as bitter as wormwood. Stowe, 
UTC, 16. Brewer, Diet. 139. See Prov. 5, 4. and p. 96. 
So bitter ah Werrnuth. Plus amer quabsinthe. Wander. 

The food , . . shall be as bitter as coloquintida. Shak., Oth., I, 
iii, 344. Cf. Coloquintida is a manere herbe that is most bitter. 
Trevisa, 1398, NED. 

The wooful teres Jjat {)ei letyn fall As bitter wer ... as ligne Aloes 
or gall. Chaucer, 1374, NED. As bitter as aloes. Dyer, FLP, 
185. Lean, II, ii. From the acid taste of the juice. 

Bitter as a bask apple. Cum. EDD. Bask, Sw. bask, sharp, bitter 
to the taste, rec. fr. Orm, but obs. except in some Sc. and n. 
Cy dial. 

As bitter as zver. S. Chs. Der. EDD. See p. 97. 

"Babies!" said another scornfully, "they come as thick as black- 
berries, and as bitter as sloes!' Baring-Gould, BS, 29. See 
Black, p. 245, and Sour, 305. 

ITis good fortune was bitter as ashes on his palate. The Royal 
Mag., '14, 262. 

Hit falleth the king of fraunce bittrore than sote. Boddeker's 
Altenglische Dichtungen, 1302 (N. & Q., 7, XII, -304). And 
now thy mouth, if one knew the truth of it, is as bitter, I 
dare say, as soot. Sterne, Tristram Shandy, IV, xiii. ed. 
1788. (N. & Q., 8, I, 212). "Did you ever eat lug [worm], 
uncle .f*" "Lord, ay, my son, to be sure I have. Tiiey are 
as bitter as soot, if you eats 'em raw, but they are as sweet 
as sugar, if you cooks 'em." Buckland, Curiosities i7i Nat. 
Hist., iii, 29 1857 — 1872. N. & Q., 7, XII, 392). Current in 
Bucks. Lei. " 'As bitter as soot' (pron. sut) is a very common 
expression here and in Derbyshire, and has probably been in 
use since the time when coals began to be burnt instead of 



— 304 — 

wood and peat. Anyone knowing the mysteries of mashing 
and brewing tea in earthenware teapots, which are stood on 
the hob to draw till infusion is complete, know also the 
consequence of a dash of soot setting in the pot through 
the spout. The result of this is a mixture 'as bitter as soot'." 
Th. Ratcliffe, Worksop, N. & Q., 7, XII, 455. The above 
insts show that it is a good deal older than Ratcliffe seems 
to think. Cf. Le tien [nom] est de si doiiz renon iQue nus no 
lot no si dedide;! Le 7nien est plus amer que side. Rutebeuf, 
Vie de Sainte Marie VEgyptienne, 6, 1260 (N. & Q., 7, XII, 
304). Amer ceninie suie. Littre. Al sugre and hony, al 
minstralsy and melody ben but soot and galle in comparison. 
Usk, 1387, NED. To whom this tale sucre be or soot. 
Chaucer, TC, 1194. Er ist so bitter wie Ofenruss. Wander. 



Sour. 

Note. For sim. referring to a bitter or sour temper, see 
p. 95 ff 

Thou first art swete, at last more sour than gall. Barclay, Ship 
of Fools 1509 (Lean, II, ii). 

Tlie aale as is as ask as whig. Lin. Ask, sour, in Yks. Lin. EDD. 
Ohl Lor.' The milk's as sour as whig. Lin. EDD. Baker, 
N'hants Gloss. (Lean, II, ii). N. & Q., 12, III, 116. 'As sour 
as wig' is no doubt a corruption of 'as sour as a whig', with 
which I have been familiar all my life. C. C. B., N. & Q., 
II, V, 434. 'A thin subacid liquor resembling whey which 
collects on the surface of butter milk, when long kept', is 
Grose's explanation of the word. It is also a drink made of 
whey, referred to already in the early sixteenth c. See EETS, 
es, 10, 257. 

As sour as lees of zvine. Melbancke, Phil., x, 3, 1583 (Lean, 
II, ii). 

As sour as eysel. Lan. EDD, See p. 97. 

As sour as vinegar. Herrick, 1648 (Lean, II, ii). Each of them 
far more salt than Brine, or more sowr than the strongest 
Vinegar. Boyle, 1666, NED. 

As sour as verjuce. Ray. Lan. EDD. Chs. Gloss. Brewer, Diet., 

II35- 
If a fruitpie is short of sugar the exclamation is often heard, 'It's 
as sour as whir.'' When milk has gone sour, someone will 
say, 'It's as sour as wharre.' s. Lan. Chs. EDD. 
As sour as a crab. Chs. Gloss. 

As sour as a crab-apple. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in daily 
use. Cf. If you squeeze a crab apple, you get only sourness. 
Baring-Gould, RS, 20. "Sour is the land that grows sour apples 



— 3Q5 — 

and sour folks." "Heaven made the apples. They are good 
enough. Man makes the cider — which is evil." ibid. 19. 

Sour as a grig. "I do not know the meaning of grig and never 
heard it applied to any substance of fruit; it is the most 
usual superlative of sour, and the very name is supppsed to 
set the teeth on edge." Elworthy, WSG. — According to 
EDD grig is the bullace, and the sim. is used in Dev. and 
Cor. — EDD has a Cornish phrase, *as sour as a rig', but we 
are not told what rig is. It may be the Dor. word rig, which 
is said to mean 'part of a cider making machine,' Halliwell 
gives the sense 'a tub for new cider.' See p. 103. 

Sour as sloes. Bronte, Shirley, II, 115, W. Ez sour ez a sloe. 
Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Already Dryden speaks of the 
sourness of the Sloes (1697, NED). It is also used fig,, Their 
visage wither'd lang, an thin. An' sour as ony .slaes. Burns, 
1786, NED. 

As sour as sorrel. Mirror for Mag., 1559 (Lean, II, ii). The acid 
qualities of the sorrel are too well known to require any 
comment. 

As sour as herbs. Gosynhyll, The Scholehouse of Worn., 1561. 
Dekker, Shoetnaker s Holid. (Lean, II, ii). Lean explains 'worm- 
wood or rue'. It may be any of the above mentioned plants. 

This yal's as hard as a whinstun. Lakel. EDD. An interesting 
case of sense-development and sense-shifting. A whinstone is 
a name given in the north of England and in Wales to various 
rocks, chiefly to basalt, but also to any unusually hard quartzose 
sandstone. Cf. As for gratitude, you will as soon get milk 
from a whinstone, Stevenson, Master of Ball., CD. 'Hard 
as a whinstone', consequently, is a perfectly natural sim., and 
sour beer being called 'hard' in several Sc. and E. dial, it 
can also be said to be 'as hard as a whinstone'. 



Salt. 

Salt as Lofs wife's backbone. To suggest extreme saltness. Ware, 

She became a pillar of salt. 
As saut as brack. Yks. Cowan, PS, 36. This bacon is sote as 

brack. Cum, EDD. Brack, brine. 
Ez saut ez sea watter. Blakeborough, NRY, in daily use. Cf. Tears 

as salt as sea. Shak., KH VIb, III, ii, 96. 
As salt as fire. — A cor. of N. & Q., asked whence. He was 

told that it was probably from the Roman custom of throwing 

meal and salt into the fire at sacrifices. N. & Q., July, 1852, 

112. Probably not. A thing may be so salt that it is as 

sharp and biting as fire. 



— 3o6 — 



Sweet Taste and Smell. 

Note. Many of the following sim. have various transf. 
senses. 

Came there a certain lord, neat and trimly dressed,/ He was 
perfiuned like a millhierj And 'twixt his finger and his thumb 
he held/ A pouncet box. Shak., KH IVa, I, iii. Cf. The 
odorous and contagious perfume of that house was able to 
outvie all the milliners in Christendom or Somersetshire. 
Taylor, WV, lO. This is the haberdasher. 

As sweet as sugar-Cmidy. Lean, II, ii. I thought . . . his voice 
as sweet as sugar-candy. SmoUet, 1755' NED. Cf. also, O 
the sugarcandy of the delicate bag pipe. Harvey, 1593, NED. 
Sugar-cand}- fr. c. 139O. 

Her breath was as sweet as sugar-candian. Taylor, PP. See NED. 
As sweet as sugar. Lean, II, ii. Cf. The myneth is swete to 
J)e soule, no sugre is swettere. Langland, 1377, NED. Cf. also 
sugar-sweet in Breton, 1600, NED. Obs. according to the 
diet. But see below, 'Sweet as a nut'. 

x'\s stveet as molasses. Marryat, Perc. Keene (Lean, II, ii.) Molasses, 
kind of treacle. The word now rare in British use, frequent 
in American E. NED. 
As sweet as syrup. Tauchn. Mag., 6, 5, W. 

As sweet as Bragett drynke. Prompt. Parv. Hir mouth was swete 
as bragot or the meeth, Or hord of apples leyd in hay or 
heeth. Chaucer, MiT, 3261. 

As sweet as bratchet. N. Cy. Bratchet is another form of 
bragot, a drink composed of honey and ale fermented together, 
or ale spiced with sugar. 

As stveet as vietJicglyn. Palsgrave, Acolast., R.4. (Lean, II, ii). 
Metheglm, beer made from honey, current in Wales and some 
counties east and south of it, rec. fr. 1533- 

As sweet as wort. — Not in very common use. N. & Q., 12, III, 277. 

As sweet as must. Huloet, 1552; Roxb. Ball., i, 375. 
As sweet as new wine. Baret, 1580 (Lean, II, ii). 

And is not my hostess of the tavern a most stveet wench? As 
the honey of Hybla. Shak., KH IVa, I, ii, 39. Every word 
that dropped from his lips was as sweet as the honey of 
Hybla to me. Richardson, P, 297. Her tone was sweet as 
Hybla honey. Phillpotts, SVV. Cf the adj. Hyblean, honied, 
honey-sweet, rec. fr. 16 16, fr. Hybla, the well-known Sicilian 
mountain. 

O swete wordes, more sweter than honey and suger. Plsher, 
1508, NED. Custance is sweet as honey. Udall, RRD, 88. 
Baret, 1580 (Lean, II, ii). As sweet as mig and honey. 
Rowley, Witch of Edmont., 1658 (Lean II, ii). Ray. No later 
inst. has been found, but cf. the cp sim. honey-sweet rec. fr. 



— 307 -- 

c. looo and still current in Som. Dev. Dor., EDD. And 
the Latin, [Study is] inelle dulcior, oinni pane suavior, oinni 
vino hilarioy. Burton, AM, II, 107 (fr. Austin). And the clas- 
sical vielle dulcior Jiiiebat oratio, which has its exact parallel above. 
Note. "As mig" is a puzzling phrase. There is a later 
inst. of it in EDD, fr. Som. 1829. The word mig is not in 
NED, and EDD has an interrogation mark against it. 

As sweet as grout. — Like the last part of one's tea with the 
sugar unstirred at the cup-bottom. Yks. EDD. Grout, gritty- 
sediment, fr. 1697. 

As sweet as milk. Taylor (W. P.) Thame and Isis, (Lean, II, ii). 
Cf. That there cider do drink so mile's milk. Elworthy, WSG. 
See p. ST). 

Ez sweet ez a kern. — A churn of all things, must be sweet and 
clean; hence, anything which may be truly said to be as 
sweet as a churn, must excel in cleanness. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 244. Kern, kirn, a n. Cy and Sc. form of churn. 

As sweet as summer cherries. Bronte, Shirley, II, 212, W. 

As sweet as a ivhite plum. 

As sweet as a nut. Buttes, Dyefs Dry Din., 1599 (Lean, II, ii). 
The white and sappy neepies — they were as sweet as ony 
nit. Abd. 1858, EDD. T'meit's sz swit az a nut. Yks. Thick 
there vowl's house stink'd aloud, but now I've a'clain un out, 
he's so sweet's a nut. A freshly washed cask would be de- 
scribed as [zo zweet-z u nut]. In this sense a nut is always 
the climax of comparison, while in the ordinary sense of sweet 
to the taste, the word used is generally sugar. Elworthy, 
WSG. Hewett, Dev. 13. Cf. Kate ... is ... as brown in 
hue As hazel nuts, and sweeter than the kernels. Shak., TS, II, i. 

Her breath is more sweet than perfect Amber is. Byrd, 1589, 
Lied., 34. Amber, the resin, which burns with an agreeable 
odour. 

As sweet as balm. Gascoigne, Voyage into Holl., 1572 (Lean, II, 
ii). As swete bawme they smell. Barclay, Ship of Fools, ii, 
221 (Lean, II, ii). Brenneth a vesselle . . . fulle of Bawme 
for to §even gode smelle. Maundeville, 14CO. Balm of course 
refers to the aromatic resinous product. 

They lefte a very sweete sauour behynde them sweeter than muske. 
Eden, 1558, NED. As sweet as musk. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). 

A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye . . . Ful fetisly y-dight with 
herbes swote; And he himself as sweete as is the rote Of 
licorys, or any cetewale. Chaucer, MiT, 20. Cf. There springen 
herbes grete and smale. The lycorys and cetewale. Ibid. TST, 
49. His love is all so swete, y-wis. So ever is mylk or licoris. 
13 ... NED. Setival, (the root of) the E. Indian plant 
Curcuma Zedoaria, used as a drug, rec. 1225 — 1640. 

O breath more sweet than is \k\& growing beait. Sidney, 1598 (note 
to French beans, Jonson, A, I, i, 403). As sweet as the bean's 



— 308 — 

first blossom. Suckling, 1646 (Lean, II, ii.) Cf. This way 
she came, and tlus way too she went; How each thing smells 
divinely redolent,/ Like to a field of beans when newly blown,/ 
Or like a meadow being newly mown. Herrick, Hesp. (Lean, 
II, ii). 

As siveet as lihes in May. Lean, II, ii, source not identifiable. Cf. 
As fresh and fragrant as the floiire-de luce She was become. 
Spenser, FQ, IV, i, 31. 

Gloves as sweet as damask roses. Shak., WT, IV, iv, 215. 

As sweet as the newbloicn rose. Adams, 1629 (Lean, II, ii). 
Cf. Once I was lovely; not a blowing rose More chastely 
sweet. Beaumont & Fletcher, MT, V, ii. As sweet as a 
rose. Lean, II, ii. 

As sweet as a violet. Rowley, Witch of Edm., 1658 (Lean, II, ii). 

She smells as siveet as any posy. Killigrew, TJiomaso, 1664 (Lean, 
II, ii). Fz sweet ez a posy. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in 
daily use. The fresh-turned earth was itself fragrant as a 
bouquet. Barham, IL, 519. Posy, rec. fr. 1565, is now arch, 
and rustic. 

Ez sioeet ^7. floors in May. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in daily use. 
Cf. Thou art pleasant, gamesome, passing courteous. But slow 
in speech, yet sweet as spring-time flowers. Shak., TS, II, i. 

And that wild breath,/ That was so rude and rough to me last 
night/ Was sweet as April. Beaumont & Fletcher, MT, III, i. 

Lofty and sour to them that love him not. But to those men that 
sought him, siveet as summer. Shak., KH VIII, IV, ii. Sweetness 
of summer, see W. 



Tasteless, Vapid. 

As walsh as the qvhite of an egg. Yks. FDD, Walsh, wallowish, 

insipid, tasteless. 
As wally as raw tales. Roberts, Note to Udall, Er. Apo. (Lean, 

III). Wally, wallow, wallowish. 
Ane o' her thick ait jan nocks, that was as wat and raiv as a divot. 

Scott, RR, xiv. Wat, wet. Divot, a piece of sod. 



Stinking. 

It stank like the devile in he lie. Townel. Myst., 14. 
To stink like an apothecary . 

He stinks like a phisicion. — I have heard it for a proverb many 
a time and oft. Nashe, III, 377, 1593. 



— 309 — 

To stink like a currier s hands. Poor Rob,. i66y (Lean, II, ii). 

To stink like a fishmonger s sleeves. 

When a man goes a wenching, 'tis as if he had a strong stinking 

breath, every one smells him out, yet he feels it not, though 

it be ranker than the siveat of sixteen bearwarders. Dekker, 

HWh, lb. See 'as cross as a bear' p. I02. 
As Strang as rotten cheese. Cum. EDD. Strang, strong, strong- 
smelling, fetid. 
As rank as garlik. Lean, II, ii. Rank, having an offensively strong 

smell, fr. 1529. 
Their memory stinks as a snuff of candle. Burton, AM, III, 32. Cf. 

vnsauory snuff, fig., 1589, NED. 
An old and crazed man. That stinks at both ends, worse than an 

elder pipe. Barry, RA, V, i. No word elder-pipe in any diet. 
To stink as a rotten dog. Hickscorner (H., Old Plays, i, 190; 

Lean, II, ii). 

Youre rud that was so red, youre the lylly lyke. Then shalle 

be wan as led and stynke as dog i?t dyke. Townel. Myst., 325. 

See p. 145 'as dead as dog &c.' 
For al the world, they stinken as a goot. Chaucer, CYT, 386. 

Already Orm said. For gat iss . . . Ful deor and stinkeJ)J) fule. 

Frequent in Latin poetry. 

As rank as goats. T. Adams, 1629 (Lean, II, ii). 
As rank as ram. Lean, II, ii. 
To stink like nezv ox-dung. Buttes, Dyefs Dry Dinner, i599 (Lean, 

II, ii). 
l"o stirik like a poisoned rat behind a hanging. Beaumont & 

Fletcher, Mad Lov. (Lean, II, ii). 
Stinks like a badger. M. & Q., 4, VI, 321. 

She seyd your brethe stank lyke a broke. Skelton, 1528. He 

stinks like a brock. Lin. 1877, Folk-Lore, LXIII, 412. Place 

stinks wo's 'an a brock. Yks. Nhb., e. An. (only used in the 

sim.) EDD. Brock, a name for the badger, in later time 

associated with the epithet stinking. NED. 
'Y. stinkth like 2i fitch. Hewett, Dev. 18. Elworthy, WSG. Stinking 

like a fitchet. Cor. EDD. 

It stinks like a fummat. Nicholson, Mrs Gutch, Folk-Lore, 

LXIX, 223. To stink like a funiard. Not. Stinks worse than 

a f comet. Wm. EDD. 

O this ferret is as rank as any polecat. Jonson, A, II, i, 295. 

She 'as a breath stinks worse than fifty polecats. Dekker, 

HVVh, lb. 

To stink like a polecat. Ray. The stinking polecat, Putorius 

foetidus is very often referred to. Cf. 'I love a stinking 

pole-cat.' Taylor, GN, 12. 
He is now at a cold scent. — Sowter will cry upon't for all this, 

though it be as rank as 2, fox. Shak., TN, II, v, ill, Cf. 

Like the aprons of some Pie-corner Cookes, Whose breath 



— 3IO — 

smels sweeter then an hunted Foxe. VW, 30. Tobacco makes 
your breath stink, like the piss of a fox. Dekker, HWh, la, vi. 

To stink Hke a skunk. Overheard in Oxford. Cf A smell as in- 
sufferable as that of some of the American Wessels or Skunks. 
Shaw, 1800, NED. Sktotk rec. fr. 1634. 

To stink like a Jierring. Northall, FPh, 30. 



Hot, Warm. 

Note. For other sim. with Hot see p. 19, 96, 121. 

As hot as the dcviVs kitchen. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). 

My throat and heart as hot as the pit. Kings ley, WH, 496. Pit 
for the bottomless pit of hell rec. fr. c. 1300. 

Whole seas of pottage, hot as PhlegetJion. Taylor, ST, 32. cpXeyeO'COV, 
burning, flaming. 

This puddin's as wot as love 7tine days oivd. Shr. EDD. 
Zo 'ofs love. Hewett, Dev. 1 1 . 

In Wine and Walnuts, ii, 62, there is the following phrase, "and 
let it be as hot as Maiy Palmer T To this is attached the 
following foot-note: This saying was common, up to this period, 
at the Red Lion of Brentford. Its origin was derived from a 
witty circumstance during the Commonweahh, and it was used 
by Cavaliers to the annoyance of the Puritans." N. & Q., 5» 
V, 329. Nothing seems to be known now about this witty 
circumstance. 

Hot as a piper. See p. 1 2 1. 

Thou that wert wont to be as hot as a turnspit. Puritan, I, ii. 
Refers to the man or boy whose ofifice it was to turn the spit. 

As warm as a bap. — A bap is a flat breakfast roll. Sc. N. & Q. 
4, XII, 215. 

She still slept on, inside his great coat, looking as %varm as a neiv 
bun and as boyish as a Ganymedes. Hardy, JO, 190. Cf. 
As brown as any bun. Hood, 1845, NED. 

As ivarm as b. penjiy-pie. — Generally said of children. Sc. EDD. 

Who comes yonder puffing as ivhot as a black pudding. Fulwel, 
1568, NED. The earliest inst. of black pudding in NED. 

Oyle soppys . . . caste J)er-to Safroune, Powder pepyr, Sugre, and 
Salt, and serve forth alle hote as tostes. c. 1430, NED. Lean 
has insts fr. Baret, 1529, Skelton, 1538, Palsgrave, 1540, Udall, 
1553. Harvey, 1573. Loue had apered in him to hir alway 
Hotte as a Toste. Heywood, 1546, NED. And there's a 
goose that breeds at Winchester, and of all Geese my mind 
is least to her; For three or four weekes after she is rost, She 
keeps her heat more hotter than a tost. Taylor, Goose &c. 
Keep yourselves as hot as Toasts. Motteux, 1694, NED. 
Ray. Warm as any toast. Gay, NS. It keeps this end of 



— 311 — 

the valley as warm as a toast. Stevenson, 1883, NED. Here 
I have been lying as warm as a toast. Phillpotts, SW, 226. 
This form of the sim. still very common. N. & Q., 9, VIII, 293. 

*Tis a fine summer night and ivarm as milk from the coiv. Phillpotts, 
M, 215. 

As hot as pepper, Roget. See p. 96. 

As Jiot as gvjger and as steave as steel. Cunningham, Gloss, to 
Burns (Lean, II, ii). Yes by S. Anne, and ginger shall be 
hot i' th' mouth too. Shak., TN, II, iii, 125. 

As iva7-m as icool. Peele, Ediv. I; Clarke; Taylor (W. P; Lean, 
II, ii). 'One said merrily: "It must needs be warm, consisting 
all of double letters.'" Fuller (Lean). 

As hot as an ove?i. Roget. Cf. The clouds hung low and dark 
and hot as the roof of an oven. Caine, D, xxxvi. The day 
of the Lord is coming that shall burn as an oven. Sewell, 
1722, NED. 

I am as hot as molten lead, and as heavy too. Shak., KH IVa, 
V, iii, 33. Cf Mine own tears Do scald like molten lead. 
ibid., KL, IV, vii, 46. 

I have been in places hot as pitch. Stevenson, TI, 17. This must 
refer to the heated pitch u.sed by sailors when caulking their 
ships. 

She was ivarm as a stmned cat. Hardy, T, 221. 

As hot as horse piss. Barclay, Eel. ante 1530 (Lean, II, ii). 
As hot as mare's piss. Lean, II, ii. 

Warm, as a mouse in a churn. Ray. — A churn in the usual sense 
of the word is a very unlikely place for a mouse. But it also 
means, at least in Ant., the last handful of corn to be cut at 
harvest, the stalks of which are roughly plaited together. 
This churn was sometimes placed over the chimney hob for 
good luck and a charm against witchcraft. EDD. If the mouse 
is in this churn on the field, it will get it pretty hot in the 
end, and it will be warm enough, if it takes refuge in the 
churn indoors. That field-mice and suchlike vermin are found 
in the last patch of corn to be cut on a field, is a thing of 
common occurrence, but is a mouse likely to find its way to 
the churn over the hob? One would think not, even if the 
houses in the good old days were far more vermin-infested 
than now. Further information required. 

When he was young, his feet were as warm as a bat, but now if 
he warmed them at the fire before he went to bed, they were 
"as cold as a dog's nose" before he got upstairs. Lan. "Old 
folks employ it". Many people say they feel "as warm as a 
bat", just as others say they feel "as warm as a toast." N. & Q., 
4, XII, 215. Staff, ibid. 377. There are several words bat 
with many different senses. The meaning that fits the context 
best is one current in Staffordshire, where it means, among 



— 312 — 

other things, a slaty bit of coal, which will not burn but 

retains the heat a great while. N. & Q., 4, XII, 377. 
As hot as coals. Udall, Erasm. Apo., 1542 (Lean, II, ii). [Avowals] 

inoffensive, but fiery as live coals. Harland, MFP, 272. CoaL 

in the sense of live coal is now arch. 
Now I shiuer for defaute of hete, And hot as glede now suddenly 

I suete. Lydgate, CBK, 33. Guy of Warwick, ed. EETS, 

262. (Lean, II, ii). NED mentions this sim. but without giving 

any inst. and calls it obs. See Red, p. 249, and Fierce &c. 

p. 94, Bright, p. 227. 
Rum and cider Jiot z.^ flame. Hardy, LLI, 271. My Lord Duke 

was as hot as a flame at this salute, but said never a word. 

Thackeray, HE, 362. 
As hot 3.S fire. Barclay, Ship of Fools, 1509. Scholehouse of Worn., 

1 541 (Lean). Kentshire hot as fire. Pegge's Kentic, p. 34. 

This sim. seems to have been used of Kent fr. late ME times 

(Lean). You are as hot as fire. Hardy, DR, 99. 
I am as hot as dog-days. Hardy, RN, 26. The dog-days are 

frequently referred to as the hottest part of the year. Cf. 

Hotter in January, than Italy in the dog-days. Cooke, 171 2, 

NED. The term is known in E. fr. 1538. 
A^ hot 2is, hay harvest. Skelton, Ytnage of Hypocr., 1533. Melbancke, 

Phil., 1583. 
Her love was ivarm as summer and fresh as spring. Hardy, FMC, 220 



Cold. 

Up there it's colder than Jiell on a stoker s holiday. White, BT, 
189. One of the picturesque Americanisms already referred 
to p. 123. 

The cold vapours, cold as death. Baring-Gould, BS, 106. 

"I feel", an old cottager said, "as cold 2lS a maids knee.'' Huntingdon. 
N. & Q., 4, VI, 495. Not known before to the cor. The 
cottager himself regarded it as a very old saying. "A maid's 
knee and a dog's nose are the two coldest things in the creation", 
was his opinion. Also current in the west of Scotland. A 
dog's nose and a maid's knees are always cold, says Ray. 

As cold as charity in the heart of a lawyer. N. & Q., 5, X, 136. 
As cold as charity in a lawyer s pocket, ibid., 358. 
Cold is thy heart and 2c?> frozen as charity. Southey, 1795. 
As cold as charity. Ray. Now have I been peeping through 
the snow storm these last two hours, watching for the boat, 
and I am as wet as a shag and as cold as charity. Marryat, 
y. Faithful, XX, Cowan, PS, 38. The wind is as cold as 
charity. Trollope, 1865, NED. Roget. According to NED 
this refers to "the perfunctory, unfeeling manner in which acts 



— 313 — 

of charity are often done, and public charities administered." 
Cf. Their incomes are very small, as charity and Piety are 
very cold among their Flock. Hamilton, 1727, NED. This 
may be the case, but the origin of the sim. is nevertheless 
biblical. When Burton, AM, I, 365, writes, "So cold is my 
charity", it is a reference to Matt., 24, 12, where we read, in 
a translation of 1582, the charitie of many shal wax cold. 
(NED). In the Auth. V. we have 'love' for 'charity'. The 
Greek text has ctydnr[. One of the earliest allusions to 
this passage that have been found, is. The morning, like charity, 
waxing cold. Dekker, GH, 25, which seems to hint that the 
sim. was current already then. Cf. also, You shall see that hot 
loue wil waxe soone colde. Lyly, MB, 1, iii, 197. The loue 
of our children waxeth key colde. zdzd., IV, i, 42. — NED 
seems to think (see cold, 7) that the sim. refers to a person 
void of ardour or intensity of feeling. The above insts do 
not bear this out. 

It was dry as a stick, hard as a stone, and co/d as a cucumber. 
Gray, 1760, NED. 

Tak' a antle of wutmil, an' as much cowsharn as'll mix well 
together, an' put it on the leg, it'll swage the swellin', an 
mak' it as cool as a cowcumber. (Shr.), Wright, RS, 247. 
'There was formerly a superstitious belief in England that 
cucumbers had the power of killing by their natural coldness. 
Gerarde says "they yield to the body a cold and moist nourish- 
ment and that very little and the same not good.'" Folkard, 
PL. 300. See p. 61. 

As cold as a clock. Lyly, Euph., ed. Arber, 106, H. Melbancke, 
Phil., iii, 106, 1538 (Lean II, ii). 

With quaikand voce and hart cald as a key. Douglas, 1501. 
My Lyfe . . . from my body fled. And left my corps as cold 
as onie kie. Montgomerie, 1600, NED. Cf. And so it coldeth 
at min herte/ That wonder is, how I asterte/ In such a point 
that I ne deye. For certes, there was never keie Ne frosen 
is upon the walle/ More inly cold, than I am alle. Gower, 
Conf. Amant., ed. Pauli, iii, 9, (Skeat, N. & Q.). An excellent 
explanation of the rise of the sim. — Cf. the cp. sim. key-cold, 
which is rec. in NED fr. 1529. It is stated to be rare now. 

As cold as iron. Roget. 

As cold as lead. Roget. 

Within was a small chamber, chilly as an out-house, and walled by 
nature with solid limestone. Twain, TS, 215. 

The room was as cold as an ice-house. Strand Mag., 123,' 13. 

As warm as a sheep-net. — Used derisively; there is no shelter 
or warmth in a sheep-net. Blakeborough, NRY, 244. 

His feet . . . were "as cold as a dog s nose.'' See 'warm as a bat' 
p. 311, and above 'cold as a maid's knee'. In Scotland, the 
reason why the dog's nose is always cold, is said to be this : 



— 314 — 

When Noah was in the ark it sprung a leak, and according to 
a dogrel song — He took the dog's nose to stop up the whole,/ 
And ever since then it's been wet and cold. N. & O., 4, VII, 
43. Cf. Kalt wie eine Hiindsnase. Wander. 

As cold as a rat. Very cold. Suf. EDD. See p. 208. 

As cold as a frog. Northall, FPh. Hewett, Dev. 10. Roget. Cf. 
So kalt ivie ein Frosch. Wander. 

Your hands are as cold as a paddock. Ken., EDD. Paddock, 
frog or toad. 

This is worse and worse, he's as cold ^s kemlocke. Ford, LS, 105. 
What does this refer to.^ 

The cheek was cold as marble. Thackeray, HE, 392. Cf. She 
took both his hands — liers were marble cold. ibid. 138. Mason, 
PK, 123 (of a hand). Roget. [Her arms] were cool as marble. 
Galsworthy, CH, 122. It is astonishing that no earlier insts 
have been found. Chaucer renders the Fr. plus froid que 
marbre, as cold as ston (DucJiesse, 124; see Haeckel, 35). 

So cold ase a ston. 1290, NED. [The clothes] were as cold as 
any stone, and so upward and upward, and all was as cold 
as any stone. Shak., KH V, II, iii, 23. A lecher's love is, 
like .sir reverence, hot,/ And on a sudden cold as any stone. 
Taylor, (W. P.), A Whore, (Lean, II, ii). Roget. P. became 
cold as a stone. Hardy, WB, 178. 
Her hand was cJiill as a stone. Hardy, W, 78, 

She is this day as cold as clay, my Mistris she is dead. Hey wood, 
CGW, 1802. Cf. such terms as (cold, lifeless) clay, used of the 
human body, rec. fr. ME times. 

When I come home and find thee cold v^s earth. Heywood, CGW, 
286. 

A new nine-gallon, tapped before breakfast this morning, now running 
clear and cool as a mountain burn. Gissing, P'C, 57. The 
word burn, rec. fr. OE times, now chiefly north, except in the 
form bourne. NED. 

Cleer was the water, and as cold As any wclle is. Chaucer, 
Rom. R., 116. 

jDat coldore was Jaane ani ys &c. c. 1290, NED. Colder then ice. 
Granger, 1620, NED. As cold as ice (in the middle of July). 
Middleton, 1604 (Lean, II, ii). Water may be made to boil, 
and burn as bad as fire, and made cold as ice. Burton, AM, 
I, 136. I feel as cold as ice and as nervous as a cat. 
Doyle, Firm, 305. Phillpotts, AP, 159 (of a dead person); 
Conrad, Romance, 357 (forehead); Caine, P2T, 127 (hand); 
Mason, PK, 112 (hand). It's aboon a mahle an' a hawf heegh, 
and as cawd as ice at t'top on't. Yorkshire Dial. 3. Blake- 
borough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 

The nobleman would have dealt with her like a nobleman, and 
she sent him away as cold 2ls a snowball. Shak., Per., IV, vi, 133. 



— 315 — 

jDat caldore was Jjane ani ys ojjur snov^. c. 1290, NED. Thoughts 
as cold as snow. Beaumont & Fletcher, KK, IV, iv. 

As coulde as z.x\y froste now wexeth shee. Chaucer, Leg., IX. 122. 

Cold as Christmas. Denham Tracts, Folk- Lore, XXXV, 91. Ez 
caud as Kessamas. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. 
Roget. 

A very old man, as cold as Jmmary. Burton, AM, III, 346. 

Note. A rather interesting G. sim. is, So kalt wie ein Schneider. 
(as cold as a tailor.) Is it because it "takes nine tailors to 
make a man", and consequently one tailor cannot have more 
than the vitality and warmth of 1/9 of a man? 



CHAPTER IV. 
OTHER DEFINITE SIMILES. 

Good. 

Agreed and as good as wheat. Twain, TS, 212. Bartlett (Lean, 
II, ii). Spoken of a cheque or a bill of exchange, where we 
should say 'As good as gold'. Lean. 

An 'twere not as good deed as drink to break the pate on thee, 
I am a very villain. Shak., KH IVa, II, i. 27. This'U be as 
good as drink to my mate Bill. Stevenson, TI, 14. Does 
not the Shakespearean drink mean 'the action of drinking' } 
NED has this sense only since 1865. Differently in Stevenson. 

As good as a feast. Lean, II, ii. Is not this only a pa»t of the 
old proverb, 'enough is as good as a feast'.? 

As good as a comedy. Taylor, (W. P.), Wit and Mirth, 129 (Lean. 
II, ii). 

You know your manners too well to wash your dirty linen in 
public like this." "As good as a pajttomine" , said a thin 
labourer. Phillpotts, M, 259. Pa7itomime rec. fr. 1735. 
As good zs 2l puppet show. Said of anything amusing. Northall, 
FPh. 8. Piippet-sho'W. fr. 1650. 

The tale that Master Jarvis told was z.% good 2,?> 2^ play. Wood, 
1 87 1. NED (s. V. play). Are they not as good as a play, 
trying their hand at legislation.? Jowett, 1875, NED (s. v. 
good). The thing was going to be as good as a play. Gissing, 
TT, 39. Hardy, PEE, 142, MC. 311. Castle, IB, 224. It 
was as good as a play to see his father with the children. Gals- 
worthy, MP, 189. This sim. is supposed to have originated 
with Charles II, who is said to have exclaimed, when watching 
the discussion in Parliament of Lord Ross's Divorce Bill, that 
it was as good as a play (Lean). But compare. He so strangely 
looked as his countenance was better than the play. Armin. 
Nest of Nin., 1605 (Lean, II, ii). 

As good as guinea gowd. Gold of which guineas were coined. 
Lan. EDD. 

His name was soon as good as gold. Blackmore, LD, 6%. 
See p. 5. 



J 



— 317 — 

Of Sancho's Proceeding in his Government, with other Successes 
as good as Touch! Shelton 1620, NED. See p. 11. 

His money always was as good as the bank. Dickens, PP, II, 4. 
The note of hand of so well known a person as yourself is 
as good as the Bank. Castle, IB, 154. See Su7'e, p. 354. 

As good as goose-skms that never man had enough of. Chs. Ray. 
Application? "This is one of the few sayings which it is im- 
possible to explain. The meaning has died out." Bridge, 
CP, 43- 



Useful, Handy. 

As useful as a shin of beef which has a big bone for the big dog, 
a little bone for the little dog, and a sinew for the cat. N. & Q., 
5, VII, 9. An old English proverb says . . . 'Of all joints 
commend me to the shin of beef, which containe marrow for 
the master, meat for the mistress, gristle for the servants, and 
bone for the dog.' Daily News, 1872, NED. 

I suppose you must let Swaddledown go; it's a pity too, lying 
handy as the button at the flap of your pocket. Baring-Gould, 
RS, 21. 

Handy as a pocket in a shirt. — Very convenient. Amer. Slang. 

I 'sure *ee, he's a rare fuller to work, and he's sandy as a gimblet. — 
A very common description of a useful servant. Elworthy, 
WSG. 



Harmless. 

This panacea is as innocent as bread. Spectator, 547. 

As harmless as a piece of bread. Jarvis, Don Quix. (transl. 
1870; Lean, II, ii). 

'E looked abart as 'awmless as a Sunday schule teacher. Pain, 
DO, 75- 

As harmless as a sheep. Herrick, iii, 38, 1648, (Lean, II, ii). A 
good man can no more harm than a sheep. Clarke. H. 

As harmless as a dove. Lean, II, ii. We ought to be harmless 
as doves. Hardy, HE. 52. See Math. 10, 16. 

[A small python] as harmless as a doortnouse. Vachell, WJ, 13 1, 
Cf. "But the most exquisite animal was reserved for the last 
chapter, and that was the Dormouse, a harmless creature 
whose innocence might at least have defended it both from 
cooks and physicians." King's Art of Cookery, Letter 9 (c. 
1700; Ben Jonson, Alch. p. 170, s. v. dormouse). 

As harmless as a ivhitred without teeth. Colvil, 1796, EDD. 
Otherwise a weasel is not considered harmless. See 'as soft- 
hearted as a rezzil', p. 88 and 'as cross as a weasel', p, 102. 



- 318 - 

Harmless creatures, none evel ment, The upper hand if they once 
get, Can no viore harme then a Menneset. Scholehouse of 
Worn. (H., Engl. Pop. Poetry, i, 254, 1541). Marmoset was 
in early MnE a name for any small monkey. The true m. 
is a tropical American monkey of the family Hapalidae, genus 
Hapale. They are gentle and playful and make amusing pets. 
NED. Cf. I have seen her ... as changeful as a mormozet. 
Scott, 1822, NED. 



Unavoidable, Necessary. 

Fixed as fate. Pope, EM, 202. Horace Smith, Brambletye House, 
1826, W. 

You are as necessary in a city as tumblers in Norfolk, sumners in 
Lancashire, or Rakehells in an army. Dekker, Westw. Ho! 
Ill, ii (Lean, II, ii). Norfolk tumblers are mentioned elsewhere 
in the same play, see p. 158, 'as active as a N. t'. That 
rakehells are unavoidable in an army, has been the experience 
hitherto, but why sumners should be more necessary in Lan- 
cashire than elsewhere, is as yet an open question. 

When I wanted whisky, I fieeded it ivorse than a scalded pup does 
a snow dank. But: "The scaulded dog feares euen colde 
water". Cotgrave, 161 1, NED. Which is more in accordance 
with canine nature.^ 

As necessary as a sow among young children. Ray. Bohn, in his 
Complete Alphabet reprints, 'as an old sow'. Also in Lean. 
A thing altogether out of place, it would seem to a modern 
mind. 

[Friendship] as necessary for man's life, as water, ayre^ a.ndjier. DP. 



Appropriate, Fit, Welcome. 

As loelcome as Hopkins, that came to jail over night, and was 
hanged the next morning. 

As welcome as two fiddlers, s. Lan. EDD. 

As welcome as eightee7i trumpeters. H (N. & Q.) 

As fit as fritter for a friar's mouth. H. 

Thou com'st as fit for the purpose as a Puddi7ig for a Fryer's 
mouth. Day, BBB, 2007. Fulwell, Like Will to Like (Lean, 
II, ii) ... for a dog's mouth, says Lyly, MB, II, i, 106. 

"The saying 'As pat as thievin to a tinker,' is probably quoted 
among us as frequently as any other." Ir., 1875, EDD. 

She is, to turn love to hate, or joy to grief, A pattern as meet 
as a rope for a thief. Heywood, PE, 24. We have 'as fit 



— 319 — 

&c.' in Mar. of Wit and Wisd. (Shak. Soc.) p. 15, and in 

Denham. 

As well ivorth it as a thief is worth a rope. Ray. 

It is as meet as a thief for the widdy. H. 
As zvelcome as the heart in one's body. Inter I. of Youth (H., Old 

Plays, ii, 21, (Lean, II, ii). 
Say pardon, gracious king; 'tis but a word . . . but icelcome as the 

breath of life. May, H, IV, i. 
Braue Prince, as welcome to Venusius, As sleep to wearied nature. 

VVV, 62. 

As ivelcome as slumbers. Herrick, Hesp., 1648. (Lean, II, ii). 
As fit as a pudding. Dekker, Shoem. Hal. (Lean, II, ii). This 

must refer to the old-fashioned pudding, a kind of sausage, 

and its tight-fitting skin. 

I chanst to light on one, Hyt me as pat as a pudding Pope 

lone. Whetstone, 1578, NED. 
As noist as pie. — Said of anything convenient, comfortable, appro- 
priate, or toothsome. It fits 'im noist as a pie, I heard of a 

coat. Lei. EDD. Cf. 'as good as a pie.' p. 5. Noist, niced, 

nicet, nice. 
As pat as a dinner of broth, w. Yks., EDD. 
As welcome as sour ale in summer. Dunton, Life and Er., 1705, 

H. Cf. to mend hke sour ale, or milk, in summer. Slang. 
The boots . . . fitted me like a glove. Smollet, 1771, NED. 

Boccaccio must be read in his Italian, as Cervantes in his 

Spanish: the language fitting either 'like a glove', as we say. 

Fitz Gerald, 1876, NED. The badger-skin waistcoat no longer 

fitted him as a glove, it fell into wrinkles. Baring-Gould, RS, 

51. Cf. Easy, p. 3^5 
Filling wp as trimme as a trencher the space that stood voide. 

Udall, 1542. — As trim or exact as maybe, as clean as a 

trencher, when licked. Slang. 

As trim as a trencher, as trick, as sweet, as clean. Jac. & Es. 

H., 0. P., ii 2, 233. 
As meet as a treen ladle for a porridge pot. Scott, Keniliv., iii, 18. 

Treen, wooden. Cf. a Sw. proverb, var ska sleven vara, om 

inte i grytan.^ (where is the ladle to be if not in the pot.?) of 

two inseparable friends. 
As fit as a die. Melbancke, Phil., 41 (Lean, II, ii). See p. 274. 
To fit like a ball of tvax. — To fit close to the skin. Slang. See 

Secret, Reticent, p. 130, and Close, p. 325. 
As natural to him as milk to a calf. Ray. This sense of natural 

fr. 1589. 
As natural as grinning is to hyaena. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). It's 

a way I've got, and it comes as natural to me as grmning to 

a hyaena. 1845, Thornton. The hyaena's laughing is referred 

to already by Shak, 



— 320 — 

It do come as nafral as hooping to owls. Robertson, Gloss, co. 

Glouc. (Northall, FPh. 9). 
As welcome as the dandelion in the bosom of imnter. Bartlett (Lean, 

II, ii). 

As welcome 2iS flowers in May. Clarke, Howell, Ray. Art welcome, 
girl, as flowers in May. Scott, RR, viii. Welcome to all as 
knowed you, as the flowers in May. Dickens, Domhey & Son, 
xlix. Ez welcome ez t'floors in May. Blakeborough, NRY, 
242, in daily use. "This form of greeting was in constant 
use years ago amongst ordinary folk, and many a stranger 
has been greeted as a friend by 'A'wm glad ter see yo: you'r 
as welcome as flowers i' May'". Th. Ratclift'e, Worksop. N. & Q. 

As welcome as our Lady day. Beaumont & Fletcher, Woman's Pr. 
I. (Lean, II, ii). 

Welcome hither, as is the spring to the earth. Shak., WT, V, i, 151. 

Cf. the following passage in Shak.: As fit as ten groats is 
for the hands of an attorney, as your French crown for your 
taffeta punk, as Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger, as a pancake for 
Shrove Tuesday, a Morris for a Mayday, as a nail to his hole, 
the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding quean to a wrangling 
knave, as the nun's lip to the friar's mouth, nay as the pudding 
to his skin. AW, II, ii, 20. 



Thoroughly, To Perfection, Clean, Slick. 

"Trees clean and free of limbs.?" asked Jackson. "They're as good 
as the stuff over on seventeen; you remember that.^'" "Clean 
as a babys leg," agreed Jackson. White, BT, 180. — I. e. 
the trees on seventeen were thus "'clean". White has a be- 
wildering assortment of fanciful sim., and some of them have 
already been commented upon. See Busy, p. 123, and Fierce, 
Angry, p. 90, Cold, 312. 

Note. For some other sim. with clean, see Beautiful, Fine, 
p. 218 &c. 

As clean as ivheat — Said when a point in discussion is cleared 
up. n. Yks., FDD. See Good, 316. 

He'll break yer up as clean as carrot. A. Mayhew, Kitty Lame- 
rell, 176, W. In this sentence clean is the intensifying 
adverb = quite, altogether, utterly, which is further intensified 
by being compared with something that is looked upon as 
clean, fine, smart. See p. 217. 

For now, as clean s a leek., Ye've cherish'd me since ye began to 
speak. Ramsay, 1725, NED. The diet, renders 'perfectly, 
entirely, completely'. 'Thoroughly, greatly, highly', would be 
more to the point in this inst. You did your work as clean 
as a leek. — Ye'd split a hair. Abd., 1867, FDD. He drew 



— 321 — 

ilk nail With a swirl round baith bolt and cleek, As clean's 
a leek. Frf. 1833, EDD. Cf. 'as spruce as an onion', p. 217, 
and the Sc, He took it off as clean as I would the head of 
a sybie (a young onion). N. & Q., 3, XI, 360. Shaving every 
labouring man As clean's a sybo. Abd., 1871, EDD. 

I've lost my knife as clean as a penny, w. Yks. EDD. See p. 
218, and above 'as clean as a carrot'. 

That eightpence shaves off my profit as clean as a 7-azor. Eliot, 
MP, 361. i. e. as clean as a razor does. 

As dead as a hammer. — "Dead" in this case sometimes is equi- 
valent to thoroughly. Lfn. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. See p. 
141. Dead, i. e., completely, entirely, thoroughly, in general 
colloquial use. Cf. 'as stunt as a hammer'. 

As clean as a pick. Middleton, World tost at Tennis, (Lean, II, ii). 
According to Lean,//^/^ is a pitchfork. There are several other 
senses of the word that may fit the context just as well. 

I done it slick as a whistle. 1844, Slang. The wind carried away 
the roof as slick as a whistle, but without hurting anybody. 
1909, Thornton. 

To cut as cleati as a whistle. N. & Q., 3, XI, 360. He chopped 
off his thumb-end as clean as a whistle. ibid. 12, III, 
275. That thing as thay uses in France (the gully-tine 
don't urn call it?) to put folks to dyuth ooth, insted a 'angin' 
urn; cuts their yuds off 'as clane as a whistle'. Wor, EDD. 
"She's gone, clean gone", murmured the bewildered captain. 
— "As clean as a whistle", said the mate. Jacobs, MC, 26. 
He took the tooth out with the first stroke, too, clean as a 
whistle. London, SS, 127. Hewett, Dev. 10, Yks. EDD. 
"Clean as a whistle", he said, "she is all right [of a mare]. 
Galsworthy, CH 138. — As appears from the insts, the first 
form of the sim. refers to something that is done to perfection, 
smartly and easily; the second is chiefly used to intensify such 
verbs as to 'cut off, go, and take away &c'. — There has been 
a good deal of discussion as to the origin of this sim. It 
has bee n suggested that it refers to the clean white wood that 
is produced at the manufacture of a rustic whistle. But the 
white wood is not the whistle itself. 'To cut as clean as to 
produce a whistle' is the explanation proffered by a cor. of 
N. & Q., 3 XI, 360. But these speculations do not start from 
facts. We have in Burns 'Paint Scotland greetin owre her 
thressle; Her mutchkin stowp as toom's a zvhistle. The Author s 
Earnest Cry and Prayer, vii. Breakfast's ready, and you must 
be as tume as a whistle after your night's work. Sc. 1896; 
also Gall. 1894 in the same sense of hungry. EDD. 'Clean 
as a whistle' is simply a translation of 'toom as a whistle', as 
clean has the sense of 'toom, empty' in many combinations. 
A whale-ship returning without oil is said to be clean, and 
so are also the empty boilers in a soap factory. The sense- 

21 



— 3^2 — 

development offers no more difficulties than in 'clean as a 
carrot, a leek', where clemi originally means 'fine, smart'. 

She is as dene as cristallc clyfe, For me. Toic?iel. Myst., 79. 
Undefiled. 

Dune as clean as a mackerel. Lnk. A nokt im ousr az tlian sz 
3 makril. Yks. Completely, entirely. EDD. Why the macke- 
rel should be selected as the cleanest, or one of the cleanest, 
of fishes, is more than one unskilled in ichthyology can tell. 
Cf. 'dead, mute as a mackerel'. 

A highly respectable individual . . clean as a pink and as dull as 
a pikestaff. Hunt, 1847, NED. Northall, FPh. It is supposed 
to be in Middleton, Inner Temple Mask (Lean, II, ii). The 
insts are too few to admit of any statement as to meaning 
and application of this sim. It has been discussed in N. & 
Q., 6, VII, passim^ and beside the flower, there have been 
suggested as renderings the foxhunters' pink, a sharp-cut 
hole, and the fencing term pink, which refers to a clean thrust^ 
and, last but not least, the fish called pink or penk, the min- 
now, Leuciscus plioxhms. "As clean as this very common and 
very elegant fish would not form a bad simile, and is much 
more likely than any of the explanations suggested". N. & Q., 
6, VII, 495. — NED does not see any difficulty in the sim. It 
simply puts the above inst. \xnd.^x pink sb. 4, which is the flower. 
There is another very interesting sim. in Baker, Nort/iants 
Gloss., as clean as a smelt. Various small fishes in Eng- 
lish waters are called smelt. Osmerus eperlanus is one. 
Smelts, when fresh, have a fine bright appearance, says Sara 
Adams, 1825, NED. The beautiful and delicately flavoured 
little fish known as smelts. Lydecker, 1896, NED. It also 
means, esp. in north, dial., a smolt: He took Smelts of the 
Salmon with their silvery sides. 1842, NED. Smolt is the 
term for the young salmon at the period when it becomes 
covered with silvery scales and migrates to the sea for the 
first time. Now, pink is another of the many words for the 
fry of the salmon, and whether we render it smelt, as is done 
in the diet., or smolt, as these two terms to a certain extent 
are interchangeable, we get good sense either way. It is im- 
material whether pink is explained as a minnow, or, as the Nor- 
thants sim. makes perhaps more likely, a young salmon, both 
words form just as good a sim. as 'clean as a mackerel'. — There 
is no evidence as to the frequency of this sim. outside dial. 
It is quite possible that most non-dial, users associate it with 
the flower, the most common sense of pink in standard lit. E. 
But you will meet with the Holy Society of the Wipers every- 
where, and they will be ready to wipe you as clean as a clock 
before you come to the castle. Henry More, A71 Antidote 
against Idolatry, 1669, N. & Q., 5, I, 327. "This is a com- 
mon phrase in Yorkshire, referring to the shining and clean- 



— 323 — 

looking blackbeetles (always called clocks in the North) which 
are to be found under every piece of cowdung which has been 
dropped a few hours." N. & Q., 5, I, 454. Has clea7i in 
this sim. also the adv. sense it has in 'clean as a mackerel'? 
The same question applies to 'clean as a pink' as well If for 
'wiped' we substitute 'robbed' the word may mean something 
like 'thoroughly'. 



Approximately. 

Note. For some related sim, see Similarity, p. 329 ff. 

As just as fourpence to a groat. Jack Jiigeler, (H., Old Plays, ii, 
149, Lean, II, ii). 

As 7iear as fourpence to a groat, Torriano (Lean, II, ii). Northall, 
FPh., 9. "This is the climax of exactness, but it has nothing 
to do with distance. It would be said of any two things which 
exactly matched in appearance, or of two valuations, which 
approached closely in amount; or it would be used to express 
a good fit. or a close joint in masonry or carpentry". Elwor- 
thy, WSG. Fourpence rec. in NED fr. 1722. 

As near as two ha pennies for a penny. Northall, FPh. 9. 

So D. and T. were nearly being rusticated this morning. "As 
7iear as a toucher.'' Hewlett, 1840, NED. And there we are 
in four minutes' time as near as a toucher. Dickens, 1865. 
Slang. The berries were as big as Welsh nuts — or so near 
as touch. Som. 1895, FDD. 'Twas jist a come they hadn a 
bin aturned over right inte the river — 'twas so nigh's a 
ticher. Elworthy, WSG. Yks. FDD. Baker, N'hants Gloss. 
Lin., N. & Q., 12, III, 275. I was as near as a toucher turn- 
ing too short, through mistaking the post. Astley, 1894, 
NED. Cf It hits to a toucher, i. e. so exactly that the joints 
touch each other. Graven Gloss. 1828, NED. 

A hit dhat mark, az ni^r 9Z a pop. Ai it just did mis, an dhat 
war ol it waz az niar az pop. w. Yks. Pop, dot, spot, mark, 
Cf. You are a pop nearer being a countess than you was 
last week. Bradshaw, 17 18, NED. 

As near as nobbut. — As near as possible. Nobbut, not but. Cf 
They're nobbut just cum'd. Yks. FDD. and, 'E'd gort as 
near drunk as no matter. Pain, DO, 33. 



Close, Near. 

Note. For some closely related sim. see Full, p. 294, 
and Common &c. 



— 324 — 

Though I were near him as his own skin. Nashe, I, 330, 1592. 
Cr. Our inward garment that should be nearer and dearer 
to us than our skins. Gauden, 1660, NED, and the following 
sim. 

The kyng began to muse on this request, and not without a cause, 
for in dede it touched him as nere as his shirt. Hall, 1548, 
NED. 

Living so close to it as what I do — closer than my shirt to 
my body, you might say. Phillpotts, WF, 112. Cf. Near 
is my shirt, but closer sitteth my skinne. Godwin, 1625, NED. 
We must discern the skin from the shirt. Lennard, 1730, 
NED. See also NED, shirt, sb. 2e, 1579, 1586, 1596, and 
coat^ sb. 13, 1539. Though to Fortvne neer be her petticote. 
Yet, neerer is her smock. Jonson, A, IV, v; and such phrases 
as Skiortafi dr ndmbre an Tr'dyan. Das hemd is neher den 
der rock. Grubb. (the shirt is nearer than the coat). Tunica 
pallio proprior. Erasmus (Grubb). 

Wedged together as close as wheatears in a Tunbridge pie. Ned 
Ward, Step to Siirbitch Fair, 1700 Wks II, 250 (Lean, II, ii). 
Does this refer to the inland watering place in Kent, fashionable 
especially in the i8th cent, and still popular? Tunbridge Ware, 
small articles in wood-mosaic, is not unknown, but who has 
ever heard of wheatear pies made at Tunbridge Wells.^ Pies 
made of small birds were long regarded as a delicacy. 

As close-packed as Jierrings in a barrel. Lean, II, ii. Cf. People 
jammed inside like herrings in a barrel. Gould, 1891. Slang. 
Cf. Gedrdngt sit z en, stehen ivie die Heringe in ci7ier Tonne. 
Etre serre, range comme des harengs en caque. Wander. Sw. 
Packade soin sillar. 

As close as sardines in a box. Jespersen-Rodhe. Cf. Packed like 
sardines. Slang. The guests were not packed together sar- 
dinewise, as they are at most concerts. Du Maurier, 1894, 
NED. 

As genteel boy, whose plated buttons were as close together upon 
the front of his short jacket as peas in a pod. Hardy, GND. 
240. 
As tJiick as peas hi a shell. NED, no inst. given. 

To see the keels upon the Tyne/ As thick as hops a-swimming. 
Nhb., 1 89 1, EDD. Said of things very close together. See 
Common. Of this sim. NED says, ? Referring to the plants 
when grown in rows, or to the crowded catkins of flowers. 

In ridding of pastures with turfes that lie by/ Pill every hole up 
as close as a die. Tusser, Husbandrie, IS77 (Lean, II, ii). 
Close, closely, without leaving any 'interstices or vacuities' 
(NED). In this case the best rendering of die would undoubt- 
edly be a stamping machine, but close may also mean 'close- 
fitting, nice, exact' and be applied to the other sense of the 
subst. 



— 325 — 

Mark staid more at home, kept to his three-legged stool as close 
as any ivax. Harris, 1901, Cor. EDD. Several insts of this 
sim. have already been given. See pp. 130, 127. See also 
Tight, p. 264, Neat, 219. 

As close as a close stool. Melbancke, Phil., 1583 (Lean, II ii). 

As close as 3. Jail. Tusser, Husb., iS77 (Lean II, ii). 

As close as the Black hole in Calcutta. Lean, II, ii. 

To lie close to you ? Close as a cockle, keep the cold nights from 
you.? Beaumont & Fletcher, WGC, I, iii. Cf. I keepe close 
for all this/ Close as a Cockle; Two 7ioble Kinsman, IV, i. 
Act IV, except iii, is generally ascribed to Fletcher, and the 
occurrence of the sim. in both plays may be a further proof 
of the authorship. For some related sim. see p. 130. 

Wotte you where I had him? Ith ale-house at whipperginnye as 
close as a burr. Misogonus, ed. Brand!, in Quelleri &c., II, 
iv, 93. i. e. the person in question was not to be got away 
from the place, he stuck to it like a burr. 

To seel her father's eyes up close as oak. Shak., Oth., Ill, iii, 214. 
Is it the hard, compact and close texture of oak-wood that 
has given rise to the sim..? 

As near as [the] bark to the tree. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). Cf. Dhe7i 
som kryper millan Barken och Trddt han blijr kldinder. Grubb, 
142. Er steckt zwischen Bamn u?td Borke, used of one in a 
fix, or one that does not know what to do. Wander. Alto- 
gether different is the E., 'Twixt the oak and the rind. To 
make fine distinctions. Som. Dev. EDD, 

Kindred. 

As sib as Simmie and his brother. Scott, Fortunes of Nigel, XV. 
Sib is a very old word, rec. fr. Beowulf, now chiefly Sc, n. 
Cy or arch. 

We weir als sib as seue and riddill In una silva quae creverunt. 
Wm Dunbar, 1508 (Lean, II, ii). Inst, of 163 1 in H. As 
much sib'd as sieve and riddle that grew in the same wood 
together. Ray. 'No more sib &c.' is a form given by H. — A 
riddle, being a coarse-meshed sieve, must necessarily be related 
to it, especially if "they grew up together". NED has insts 
of these two words being coupled for at least 500 years, quite 
apart from the sim. 



As much akin as Robin Hood and the Rood of Chester. Gascoigne, 
Glass of Gov., 1575 (Lean, II, ii). 

As near akin as the cates of Banbury to the bells of Lincolne. A 
Knack to Knoiv a Knave, 1594, H. Lean quotes the sim fr. 
the same play (H., Old Plays VI, i, 533) in a slightly different 
form, 'As near akin together &c.'. — The cates of B. pro- 
bably refer to the Banbury cakes mentioned p. 47. The bells 



— Z26 — 

of Lincoln will be further dealt with in the section Silence, 
Sotinds. 
As much aki?i as Lenson-hill to Pilson-pen. — 'That is no kin at 
all. It is spoken of such who have vicinity of habitation or 
neighbourhood, without the least degree of consanguinity or 
affinity betwixt them: for these are two high hills, the first 
wholly, the other partly, in the parish of Broad Windsor, 
whereof once I was minister." Fuller, W., I, 453. Lenson is 
probably a misprint for Lewson. According to Lean the "cor- 
rect names" are Lewesdon and Pillesden. The map-names of 
to-day are Pilsdon Pen and Lewesdon Pen. (Cambridge Co. 
Geogr., CO. Dorset). Fuller goes on to say of these hills, "Sea- 
men make the nearest relation of them calling the one the cow, 
the other the calf; in which forms, it seems, they appear first 
to their fancies." The present incumbent of this parish writes 
that he does not know the sim. to be current in the neigh- 
bourhood. 

Intimacy, Familiarity. 

Note. For some closely related sim. see Knoicledge, p. 130, 
Love, Sympathy, p. 135. 

As great as the devil and Dr. Faiistus. De Foe, 1726, NP^D. 
Probably only a nonce-phrase. Nevertheless it bears witness 
to the great popularity of the legend of Dr. Faustus and the 
devil, well-known from Marlowe's Dr. Faustus and Goethe's 
Faust. — Great, intimate, rec. fr. 1483, is now only dial. 

As great as old Nick and the Earl of Kent. Ned Wards, Revels 
of the Gods, 1704, (Lean, II, ii). 

We became as great friends as the devil and the Earl of Kent. 
T. Brown, 1704, NED. As great as &c., Swift, PC, 296. — 
"The villanous character given by history to the celebrated 
Goodwin, Earl of Kent, in the time of Edward the Confessor, 
occasioned the proverb.'' Pegge's Kejiticisms, 10, 60, Engl. Dial. 
Soc, vol. 4.) 

As thick as Darby and Joajt. Lan. EDD. Darby and Joan, a 
proverbial jocose appellation for an old-fashioned loving couple, 
used for the first time in a ballad printed in Ge?itlejn. Mag., 
^' ^53' 1735- According to Brewer it was written by Henry 
Woodfall, and the characters are those of John Darby of Bar- 
tholomew Close, who died in 1730, and his wife. But NED 
thinks that all the conjectures as to the identity of the charac- 
ters have had no valid results. 

As thick as Dick and Lcddy. w. Yks. EDD. 

As thick as Harry and Mary. Cor. EDD. 

We were as loving as inkle-weavers. Scott, Nigel, 1822, P.DD. 
As kind as inkle-weavers. Clev. Gloss., 280. 
You mud ga wi' er an' stick as clooas as inkle-weavers. Wm. EDD. 



— 327 — 

As great as (two) inkle-makers. Diet. Cant, Crezv, 1700, NED. 
Applebee's Weekly Jouin., 28 Nov., 17 19 (N. & Q., 10, X, 
235). As great as two \nk\e-iveavers. I've seen her hug you, 
as the devil hugged the witch. Swift, PC, 267. She and you 
were as great as two inkle-weavers. Grose, 1725. Lady 
Suffolk's Letters, 171 2 — 1767 (Lean, II, ii). Slang, 1700. N. I., 
EDD. When people are intimate, we say they are as great 
as two inkle-weavers . . . inkle-weavers contract intimacies with 
each other sooner than other people on account of their juxta- 
position in weaving of inkle [the inkle-looms being so narrow 
and close together]. Cowper, 1788, NED. 
As thick as inkle-makers. Launceston, Cor., c. 1825. N. & Q., 
10, X, 186. Dev. Yks. Lin. EDD. We're as thick, as a pair 
o' owd reawsty in\<.\e-we avers. Lan., Vaugh, 1868, EDD. We 
soon grew as thick as inkle-weavers. Routledge, 1869, NED. 
This form of the sim. is rec. fr. Grose, and seems to be cur- 
rent in some Sc. and Ir. and many E. dial., fr. Nhb. to Cor. 
"As a simple word, inkle is dying out now, but the compound 
inkle-weaver is very common in the phrase. As thick &c." 
Wright, RS, 56. The subst. inkle-weaver is rec. fr. 1691. — 
The above explanation given by Cowper as to the origin of 
the sim. is repeated by many writers in N. & Q., see e. g. 
10, X, 186, and elsewhere. But cf. the following passage 
"The introduction of this inferior kind of tape was from the 
Low Countries, during the persecutions of the 16*^^ c. The 
traffic was carried on by a few foreign weavers, who kept 
the secret among themselves, and being of one trade, language, 
and religion, they naturally became staunch familiar friends. Hence 
it is now said of persons very friendly, "They are &c." H. 
takes the same view. But inkle-weavers were not always clanny 
foreigners who "kept themselves apart to prevent the discov- 
ery of their mystery", as appears fr. the following entry in 
the Records of the Corporation of Weymouth and Melcombe 
Regis, Dec. 12, 1623, . . . yt was and is agreed. . . that there shall 
bee twenty fframes provided for the makinge of Ynckle, and 
that Mr. David Gyer, Receiver of the Town's Revenue, shall 
have the charge and care of the deliverie of the threede for the 
making of the same ynckle unto the Overseer of the poore 
children which shallbee sett work therewith , . . N. & Q., 5> 
X, 156. 

As great as inkle-tape. Lean, II, ii. Genuine.' 

So thick' ^ forty thieves. Hewett, Dev. 12. — Is this an allusion 
to the Tale of Ali Baba, or the Forty Thieves of the -^r^^^^'^;/ 
Nights, or simply an intensification of the following. f* 
As thick as (tivo) thieves. Sc. Ir. Dur. Lan. Not. War. An. 
Dev. EDD. 

She and my wife are as thick as thieves, as the proverb goes. 
T. Hook, 1833, NED. In about half an hour they was as 



— 328 — 

thick as thieves again. Twain, HF, 269. Miss Petronelle and 
young Doctor Grenville so thick as thieves. Phillpotts, WF, 
267. ibid. 42. Kipling, Tauchn. Mag. 18, 11. 

As 7iear to [one anjother as man and loife. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). 

They are as kaand as brothers. Yks. Kaand, kind, intimate. Cf. 
His lordship impressed this upon me as strong and /izw////^/- as 
a brother. Hardy, HE, 391. He is blessed that is so near 
you as a brother is. Beaumont & Fletcher, KK, III, i. 
He talks as familiarly of John a Gaunt as if he had been sworn 
brother to him. Shak., KH IVb, III, ii, 299, See p. 136. 

As thick as two in bed. Der. EDD. 

That's right, Captain . . . you twa will be as thick as three 
in a bed an ance ye forgather, Scott, 1820, NED. Uls. Lin. 
Oxf., EDD. See p. 294. 

These are all familiar things to me; Fajniliar as my sleep, or want 
of ino7iey. Beaumont & Fletcher, KK, IV, iii. 

The slaue's/ Already as familiar as an Ague/ And shakes me at 
his pleasure. Tourneur, RT, I, iii. — Did Tourneur live some- 
where in the neighbourhood of "ague-fens"? 

As familiar as D. T. Sla7ig. D. T., Delirium tremens. A modern- 
ism, as the subst. is not more than about a hundred years 
old in E. 

K% familiar as slap-dragons with the humming. Brathwaite, The Laws 
of Drink., 161 7 (Lean II, ii). Slap-dragon, see p. 201. 

As big as bull-beef. Very intimate. Stf. EDD, See Proud., pp. 
82, 152, 288. 

[Poison] is become as familier to thee as meaie and drinke. Nashe> 
II, 36. 

These tokens were familiar to Mr. Kelly as his daily bread. Mason, 
PK, 73- 

You and Lady Coupler are as great as cup and ca7t. Swift, PC, 
296. Diet. Cant. Crew, 1700 (NED). Cf. You and he are 
Cup and Can. Swift, 1729 (NED). Cup and Can, familiar 
associates (the can being the large vessel from which the cup 
is filled). NED. 

As thick as glue. — Close in confidence and association. NED. 
No inst. given. Cf. No glue like that of good fellowship. 
Burton, AM, I, 262. 

A pair of boots which were as familiar to his legs as the pillory 
to a baker's or collier's neck. Peele's Jests, 3. Is not this 
a libel upon the Worshipful Company of Bakers? 

As familiar with me as my dog. Shak., KH IVb, II, ii, 102. 

As close together kept those two/ As dogs in coupling" use to do. 
T. Ward, Engl. Reform., p. 150, 17 19, (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 
Love-making and dishonesty are as inseparable as coupled 
hounds. Hardy, HE, 51. 

As thick as dogs' heads. Very intimate, friendly. It is often un- 
derstood as conveying an insinuation that the intimacy will 



— 329 — 

not last, and that it may be succeeded by a violent quarrel, like 
that of dogs when they fall by the ears. Jamieson (EDD). As 
thick as two dogs' heads. Nhb. EDD. 

As thick as thatch, thack. Yks. I, Ma., EDD. Lin., Folk-Lore, 
LXIII, 411. 

To cling like a couple of eels, not to be dissolved but by thunder. 
S. S., Honest Lawyer, II, 1616. 

Close as adders be me and Martha to the outer world. Phillpotts, 
WF, 135. 

You an' she were as thick as bees. Brks. EDD. They hold to- 
gether like bees; offend one, and all will revenge his quarrel. 
Kingsley, WH, 235. 

Sir Christopher Pack did cleave like a clegg, and he was very an- 
gry he could not be heard ad infinitum. Burton, 1656, NED. 
Sticks like a cleg of [on] a windy day. Yks. EDD. Robin- 
son, Witby Gloss. y 1855. Lan. 

To cling like a cleg. Lin. — Cleg, a gad-fly, Tabamis bovimis, 
the female of which is very bloodthirsty. It inflicts great pain, 
and is difficult to get rid of. N. & Q., 12, III, 276. — The 
sim. only partly belongs to this section, being applied to a 
rather unpleasant sort of intimacy, i. e. with people one would 
rather shake off. Otherwise it is used of such as obstinately 
stick to something. 

I thought you an' he were as thick as blackberries before you went 
away. Ir., 1894, EDD. See Commo?t &c. 

Togider thai cleued . . So with other doth the btirre. 1330, NED. 
Together they cleve more fast then do burres. Barclay, 15 14, 
NED. Heywood, PE, 72. 
To cling like a bur. NED. Inst, not given. 
Wantons ha7ig like burs upon you. MM, 17. Friends who 
will hang like burs upon his coat. Crabbe, 18 10, NED. 
To hold together like burs. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). 
The Jews stick together like so many burrs. Burton, AM, III, 
400. ibid. 24. Miege, 1677, NED. When a fellow stuck like 
a bur, that there was no shaking him off. Aburthnot, 17 12, 
NED. Gay, NS. Cf They are burs I can tell you; they'll stick 
where they are thrown. Shak., TC, III, ii, 103; and the fig. 
use of bur for a hanger on, a dependant, one who sponges. 
Slang. Cf. A scriueners shop hangs to a Sergeants mase like 
a burre to a freese coate. Lyly, MB, IV, ii, 237. 

Pivart was as "thick as mud' with Wakem. Eliot, MF, 178. See 
Thick p. 293. 

Similarity. 

As like as rain to water, or the devil to his dam. Shak., KJ, I, 
ii, 128. For the devil and his dam, see p. 81. The following 
comparison deserves to be chronicled here. He would trans- 



— 330 — 

form himself in colour,/ As like the devil as a collier; As 
like as hypocrites, in show,/ Are to true saints, or crow to 
crow. Butler, H, 52. Cf To kiss like the devil and the 
collier. Killigrew, Tkomaso, I, v, 12, 1664. 'In a deposition 
made before the magistrates of this borough, in the year 1603, 
in a case of riot respecting the cutting down of a Maypole, 
the witness deposed that one Agnes Watkin had railed again 
the witness, saying, "Thou are like unto like, as the devil 
said to the collier.'" Leicester, N. & Q., 3, V, 282. As the 
sayinge is, lyke wyl to lyke, as the deuyl fyndeth out the 
colyer. Bale, 1552, NED. 

As like one another as a Scot and a Redshank. Howell, Cejit. of 
New Saymgs, IV, c. 1660. Redshank, as a term for a Scotch- 
man, rec. fr. 1 542, NED. See p. 157. 

As like his own father as ever he can look. Ray. 

As like him as he can stare. Middleton, Fam. of Lo7ie,lll/\ \6o^\ 
ibid. Chaste Maid in Cheaps., Ill, ii. His loving mother 
left him to my care/ Fine child as like his dad as he can 
stare. Gay, What d'ye call it, I, i, 171 5 (Lean, II, ii). Jane 
Austen, 1796, NED. 

Twoo girles . . . the one as like an owle, the other as like an ur- 
chin, as if they had beene spitte out of the mouthes of them. 
Breton, 1602, Slang. I dare be sworn 'twas thou did'st get 
him. He's e'en as like thee as th'had't spit him. Cotton, 1670, 
Slang. Ibid, insts of 1675, 1698. Ray. Swift, PC, 294. Smollet, 
175 1, Slang. Grose, 1788, NED. The baby is as like it 
fadther, as if he hed spit it. Wm. 1825, EDD. Yks. 1828, EDD. 
Here in the North, the common phrase of a good portrait 
is, "it's the vary spit and image of him." Newcastle, N. & Q., 
8, VIII, 53. Cf. The figure of Saint Mary Virgin . . was 
cut the very spit and image o' Dahlia. Yoxall, RS, 26. He 
looked the spitten picture of my ould father. Caine, D., xxvi. 

In Fr. similarly, Oest son pere tout crache. C'est son portrait tout 
crach^, Slang. 

They are as like to your own, as an egge to an egge, or milke 
to milke. Chillingworth, 1638, NED. Cf. It looks so like 
intemperance as milk to milk. Taylor, 1 660, NED. Cf. So 
dhnlich zvie eine Milch der andere^t. Wander. A Latinism. NED. 

As different as one egg from a?tother. Lean, II, ii. 

They say we are almost as like as eggs. Shak., \VT, I, ii, 
120. 

As like as one egg is to another. Timon, the old play, c. 
1600, Shak. Soc, II, iv (Lean, II, ii). Swift, PC. 294. Cf. Sie 
gleichen sich, sind so gleich, dhnlich wie ein Ei dein a^ideren. 
Wander. Non tarn ovum ovo simile. See below Fig. 

As like as two halves of an apple. Lean, II, ii. Cf. An apple 
cleft in twain is not more twin Than these two creatures. Shak. 
TN, V, i 215. An apple cut in half is not so like. Daven- 



i 



— 331 — 

port, City Nigthc, III, 1661 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. As like as a 
broom to a besom, barm to yeast, or codlings to boiled apples. 
Taylor, World on Wheels, 1635 (Lean, II, ii). In this case 
codling refers to the hot codlings or roasted apples that 
were formerly sold in the London streets. 

"Tis as like to you as cherry is to cherry. Shak., KH VIII, V, 
i, t68. 

So like to one another that we can less discern an egg from an 
egg or ^ fig from a fig. Becon, I, 34, 1563, 4 (Lean II, ii). — 
Although properly speaking this comparison has not the form 
of an intensifying sim. in the sense accepted in this collection, 
the context makes it probable that such a sim. existed. In 
German there is, Ah?ilicher als eine Feige der anderen, (Wander), 
and ibid, is quoted {v. 'Exdismus Similior ficu. There are numer- 
ous proverbial phrases in which fig occurs, in E. as well as 
in G., Du., Sw., and Fr. 

As like as one pease is to another. Lyly, 1580, NED. Rebellion 
and Witchcraft are as like as two Pease. Flatman, 1 681, NED. 
Swift, Dennis's Inv. to Steele, (Lean, II, ii). As like ... as 
two peas are to one another. Burney, 1778, NED. A brother/ 
As like him in form as one pea's like another. Barham, 
IL, 479. A . . twin-sister ... of the same age . . the same 
father, same mother. And as like to Therese as one pea 
to another. Barham, IL, 255. We both should be like as 
pea and pea. Browning, 1868, NED. The two women be 
alike as peas. Hardy, PBE, 299. We're ... as like as two 
peas. Anstey, VV, 19. The King of R. and your humble 
servant are as like as two peas. Hope, PZ, 276. The boxes 
were as like to one another as two peas. Mason, PK, 15. 
Yoxall, RS. 104. Pain, DO, 89. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in 
daily use. — Yes, yes. Madam, I am as like the Duke de R. 
as two peas; but then they are two old withered grey peas. 
Walpole, 1765. Slang. The little wench 'uU be as like her as 
two peas. Eliot, MF, 296. The creature's so like his father as 
two peas. Phillpotts, M, 288. This last, strictly speaking in- 
correct, form of the sim. is probably older than Walpole. Cf. 
There is no end of little valleys, each like the other, much as 
peas in a pod. London, FM, 11. 

As like as fotirpejice to a groat. Ray. Cf. 'Tis so near as four- 
pence is to a groat. West country saying. N. &Q.,9. XI, 58. 

They are all like one another as lialfpence are. Shak., AYL, III, 

ii, 329- 
We're all as alike as pi7is in a roiv. Robins, 00, 345- 

As like as two pins. Lean II, ii. 
*'I have a son of my own," said he, "as like you as two blocks. 

Stevenson, TI, 15. See above, 'as like one as two peas.' 
"They're as like as two lumps of coal'' said Sam slowly. Jacobs, 

MC, 40. 



— 332 — 

At twelve or thirteen years of age [those lads] look as much alike 
as goslings. Eliot, MF, 32. 

As like as two snowdrops. Hardy, HE, 359. Said of two persons 
who had become very pale. 

As likej As rain to water, or devil to his dam. Shak., KJ, II, i, 
127. Cf. Two drops of water cannot be more like. Dryden, 
VII, 100. Cf. So dJinlich toie kauni ein Tropfen Wasser dem 
anderen. Sie gleichen sick ivie zivei Tropfen Wasser. Wander. 



Dissimilarity, Difference. 

Note. For some closely related sim. sq& Disagreement, Tp. 134 f. 

VVe and he differ as much as heaven and hell. Fulvvell, Like will 
to Like (H., Old Plays, iii, 338), 1568. Men at most differ as 
heaven and earth. But women, worst and best, as Heaven 
and Hell. Tennyson, 1874, NED. 

They differ as darkncs dothe from light. NC, I, i (Dodsley, I, 49). 
The two things . . . might be as differe7it as light and darkness. 
Gissing, GS, 1 19 P. 

Your way and his are as different as light from darkness. 
Phillpotts, P, 299. Cf. Making such difference 'twixt wake and 
.sleep. As is the difference betwixt day and night. Shak., KH 
IVa, III, i, 219. Darknes from light we part on two. Toionel. 
My St., I. Bytwene the shynyng lyght and black derkness. 
Fisher, 1508, NED. Cf. olika sovi dag och natt. Differ, and 
different fr. c. 1400. 

As much difference between them as betwixt lohite and black. Row- 
ley, Witch of Edm., V, i, 1658 (Lean, II, ii). 

We are as like in condition 2iS Jack Fletcher Tindhxs bolt,/ Brought 
up in learning, but he is a very dolt. DP, IV, 19. No more 
like than Jack Fletcher and his bolt. Twyne, Patter7i of Painful 
Adv., 1576, H. Cf. Then wolde ye mend, as the fletcher 
mends his bolt. Heywood, 1562, NED, Is it Jack P'letcher 
(the fletcher?) that is a very dolt, although he is brought up in 
learning? And do persons, who are 'no more like than J. F. 
and his bolt' differ in everything except dulness? 

Lesse like than Ponies steple to a dagger sheihe. Thos More, Engl. 
Wks, 595, 672. See p. 149. 

As like as York is to foul Sutton. H. Cf. It will be found to ex- 
ceed them as much as York exceeds foul Sutton, to use a 
Northerne phrase. H. Stephanus, World of Wonders, 1607, 
transl. by R. C, Translator's Epistle to the Reader. H. 

She's like this as a crab's like an apple. Shak., KL, I, v, 14. 
Of things apparently alike, but intrinsically very different. 
See Sure p. 354. 

As like as an apple is to a nut. Musarum Del., i, 1656 (Lean, 
II, ii). 



— 333 — 

As like as an apple is to a lobster. Fuller; Poor Robins Aim., 
1687 (Lean, II, ii). Ray. 

Hys similitude of grammar, likened vnto fayth is no more lyke 
than an apple to an oyster. More, 1532, NED. Your argu- 
ment is as like, as an apple is like an oyster. Fulke, 1579, 
NED. He is my father, sir, and sooth to say. In counten- 
ance somewhat doth resemble you — As much as apple 
doth an oyster. Shak., TS, IV, ii, 99. At night zo zoon's 
chvvar into bed/ I did all my pray'rs without book read. My 
creed and paternoster./ Methink zet all their prayers to thick,/ 
And they do go no more aleek/ Than an apple's like an 
oyster. Alex. Brome, The Clown, 1664 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 
Why do you bring him in speaking of apples, when you 
speake of oysters. Jenkyn, 1648, NED. 

As analogous as chalk and cheese, or a Cat and a Cartwheel. 
Motteux, 1708, NED. 

As like as chalk is to cheese. Wor. Oxf. EDD, 
No more like than chalk and cheese. Rowland, Let. of Humour s 
Blood, 1600, H. They are no more like than chalk to cheese, 
than black to white. Marriage of Wit and Sc, H. Old Plays, 
ii, 389 (Lean, II, ii). Ray. 

Do not these thynges differ as muche as chalke and chese. 
Shacklock, Hatchet of Heres., 1565 (Lean, II, ii). 
As different as chalk from cheese. Liddel & Scot, Gr. Diet, 
as a rendering of 6c5a biacpepei Oijxa xapbd|ucov, They are 
as different as chalk and cheese. Vachell, SB, 21. 
— There are numerous phrases in which chalk and cheese are 
made to illustrate things that are as different and discrepant as 
they possibly can be. Some may be quoted : — Lo, how they 
feignen chalk for cheese. Gower, 1393, NED. Chalke may 
no bear the price of Cheese. Nashe, I, 126. They shall not 
meet with chalk for cheese. G. Harvey, Wks, II, 318. He 
discerneth not cheese from chalk. Wager, The Lojtger thoti 
livest, 1568 (Lean, II, ii). I must keep company with none 
but a sort of Momes and Hoydons that know not chalk from 
cheese. Day, BBB, 865. That's a gall that knows chalk from 
cheese. Baring-Gould, BS, 50. No horse in the world could 
tell chalk from cheese. Barham, IL, 348, &c. 

As like as chalk and charcoal. Clarke (Lean, II, ii). 

As like as chalk and coles. Sir T. More, p. 674 (Lean, II, ii). 

We differ like flint and steel, yet strike some spark between us. 
Phillpotts, AP, 74. 

Different from . . modern Popery as a hawk from a handspike. 
Faber, 1846, NED. This reminds one of the old Shak. bone 
of contention, "When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk 
from a handsaw". Hamlet, II, ii. 

An historian and a Libeller are as differeitt as Hawk and Buzzard. 



— 334 — 

North, 1734, NED. Cf. the saying 'between hawk and buzzard'^ 
or 'buzzard and hawk', rec. in NED fr. 1636 and still current, 
in the latter form, in Der., EDD. It means 'between a good 
thing and a bad of the same kind, the hawk being the true 
sporting bird, the buzzard a heavy lazy fowl of the same 
species'. NED. See also p. 172. 
As like as a dock and a daisy. Ray. Is this dock the plant, Rumex? 



Unfit, Inappropriate, Unexpected. 

As fit as a thimp with a stone in an apotJiecary s eye. Fuller 
(Lean, II, ii). Thump, subst. rec. fr. 1552. 

As welcome as a tJiief. Taylor, Fearful Summer, 1625, (Lean, II, 
ii). Cf. Er ist so willkomtnen wie ein Dieb itn Laden. Hij 
is zoo zvelkojn als een dief aan de?t kramer. Wander. 

As welcome as water i7ito one's shoes. Ray. "In one's shoon" 
is the form in which the sim. is used in s. Lan., EDD. Cf. 
They caressed his lordship very much as a new comer, whom 
they were glad of the honour to meet, and talked about a 
time to dine with him; all which (as they say) was water in 
his shoes. North, 1744, Slang, 

As welcome as water in a rive7i ship. Sc. — "into a ship" is tlie 
form given by Ray. H. has 'into a leaking ship'. 
As welcome as water into a ship. Udall, RRD, III, ii; Lyly, 
Euphues, 381, 1 581; Melbancke, Phil., 1583; Withals, 16 16 
(Lean, II, ii). Cf. Wdlkommen som Salt i sivrt ogaj och 
Watn i nytt Skipp. Grubb. Similar in Danish. Er ist so 
willkomnien wie das Wasser im Schiff. Also in D. Wander. 

Welcotne like dogs unto a church. Taylor, Fearful Sum., 1625 
(Lean, II, ii). 

As fit as a shoidder of mutton for a sick horse. Withals, 161 6 
(Lean, II, ii). Ray. 

Thou art to be plain, and not to flatter thee,/ As Wholesome 
a morsel for my comely corse/ As a shoulder of mutton for 
a sick horse. Hey wood, PE, 85. Cf. Evil things which were 
as unmeaning to her as joints of flesh to a herbivorous creature. 
Hardy, GND, 219. 

As loelcome as stones in oats to a horse. News fr. Chelmsf. 
(Bagf. Ball., II, 739; Lean. II, ii). 

As becometh a koiv to hoppe in a cage, 1399, Langland, NED. 
She is, in this marriage. As comely as a cow in a cage. 
Hey wood, PE, 52. 

For how should they have learning that were born but even now.'' 
As fit a sight it were to see a goose shodd, or a saddled 
coive. NC, I, i (Dodsley, I, 45). 



-lor 

As sehnly a sight ... as to putt a sadill upoim the back of 
an unrewly ko%v. Knox, 1566, NED. Seemly, appropriate, 
suitable, rec. in NED 1330 — 1634. 

That becometh him as handsomely (according to our Proverb) 
as A saddle doth a Cowes back. Hughes, 1677, NED. 

Fifty year ago I knew her a trim maid. Whatever she were then, , . . 
she is now/ To become a bride, as smeet as a sotv to bear 
a saddle. Heywodd, PE, 52. 

He used to go very fine, when he was here in town. — Ay, 
and it became him, as a saddle becomes a sow. Swift, PC, 279. 
It becomes him as well as a sow doth a cart-saddle. Ray. 
Lean quotes this, but he substitutes cow for sow. Misprint.? 
He has also the form, 'as fit as a saddle for a sow', and 
gives Ray as the authority for it. But no such sim. is found 
there. Cf the G. " Der kami der Saiv den Sattel recht aufle- 
gen. Er kann keine Sew satteln." Cf To look like a hog 
in armour. It looks as well as a diamond necklace about 
a sow's neck. H. Er hdngt einer Sazv ein goldeti Halsband 
an. Wander. 

You [a barber] look as unnatural away from your wigs as a canary 
in a thornhedge . Hardy, W, 9. 

He is as much out of his element as an eel i7t a sandbag. Bohn. 
Cf. p. 160. 

Thart az ivelco^ne sz matvk i cheese. 1881, Yks., EDD. 

O, do not slander him, for he is kind. — Right, As snow in har- 
vest. Shak., KR III, I, iv, 237. Kind, appropriate, fitting, 
obs. c. 1700. 

Tam apta miptiis quam bruma messibus. As welcome to a 
young woman as snow in harvest. Burton, AM, III, 306. 
He is Weelcome as snaw in har'st. Sc. Ray. Of 'untimous 
persons' as Ray put it. "... as snow in hay-harvest" is 
Hazlitt's rendering. 

As seasonable as snow in summer. Ray. 

As welcome as rai7i at harvest. Draxe, 1633 (Lean, II, ii). 
Ez larl wanted az rain i' hay-tahm. Blakeborough, NRY, 
242. 

As welcome as a storm of wind to the month of March. Melbancke, 
Phil.., 15S3 (Lean, II, ii). As welcome as a storm, H. Cf. 
He. As welcome to my eyes/ As foul weather to the skies. 
She. And you to mine as mists to the day/ Or frost unto 
the month of May. Flecknoe, Diarium, A rural Dial., p. 69, 
1656 (Lean, II, ii). 

As welcome as thunder to our beer. Herrick, Hesp., 377, 1643. 

Unexpected like the thunderbolt. Kingsley, WH, 400. Terrible 
events fell as unexpectedly as thunderbolts. Hardy, TM, 275. 



336 - 



Useless, Worthless. 

"I lately heard a Norfolk man, in speaking of one of the most 
noted clergymen in East Anglia, say that he was of no viore 
use than a headache. I have never heard the expression be- 
fore, but I am told on inquiry that it is not uncommon." 
N. & Q., 8, VI, 126. 

As much need of it as I have of the cough. Lean, II, ii. 

As much 7jeed of it as he has of the pip. H. 

As coarse as 7ieck-beef. — Very coarse, of the poorest quality. 
Slang. Neck-beef, rec. in NED fr. 1662, transf. of anything 
inferior or very cheap. See Cheap, p. 346. 

As useless as open arses gathered green. Killigrevv, Parson s Wed., 
II, ii, 1664 (Lean, II, ii). O. a. arc medlars. They are eaten 
when deca\'ed to a soft pulpy state. See below Rotten, p, 338. 

Ez larl value 9Z an aud hat. Blakeborough, NRY, 242. 

Ez worthless sz an arid shoe. ibid. 

And for winter fly-fishing, it is as useful as an almanac out of date. 
Walton, CA, 43. In the first Zion House tract the presbyterian 
ministers accused Cromwell's party of esteeming the Covenant 
no more than an "almanack out of date". Milton, Tenure &c., 
Introd. p. XX. Out-of-date almanacs are frequently mentioned 
as typical of things of no value. See Greene's Groatsworth 
of Wit, (ed. Grosart, XII, 132), Dekker, VVks, ed. Pearson, 
II, 154, and Nashe, I, 167. Cf. Were harlots therefore wise, 
they'd be sold dear: For men account them good but for one 
year; And then like Almanacks (whose dates are gone) They 
are thrown by, and no more lookt upon. Dekker, HWh lb. 
Cf. "Conyers, you are about as interestin' as a week-old copy 
of the Times." Cassels' Mag. of Fie, '14, 231. 

Chastite withoute charite ... is as lezved as a laumpe f)at no ligte 
is inne. Langland, PP, I, 187. Leived, good-for-nothing, 
worthless, obs. in the i8th c. 

As useless as the fifth zvhcel to a wagon. Lean, II, ii. Although 
the phrase "the fifth wheel of a coach, wagon" is not rec. in 
NED (s. V. fifth) before 1891, it is probably a good deal older, 
as it is found in Sw. (Grubb, 302), Fr., G., and D. at very 
early dates. Quinta rota plaustri, already in the iith c. 
Probably already in classical Latin. Wander; Stoett, NS, II, 186. 

As simple as a hd forth of soap in a weshing mug. Chs. Gloss. 
That is, as incfifectual as so small a quantity of soap would 
be in a large quantity of water, ibid. 

As useless as whistling psalms to a dead horse. Bartlett (Lean, 
II, ii). 

As useless as to stop up a rathole with an apple dumpling, ibid. 

As much need of a wife as a dog of a side-pocket. Said of a 
weak old debilitated man. Grose, 1796, NED. 



— 337 — 

You have no more use for that than a dog for a side-pocket. 
East Riding. N. & Q., 6, III, ']']. Dev. ibid. 6, II, 377. 
Wanted as much as a dog wants a side-pocket, ibid., Slang. 

He's no more use for a hunter now tlian a cow for a side-pocket. 
Melville, 1862, NED; As much use as a cow has for side 
pockets. Bridge, CP, 18. 

You have no more use for it than a coiv has for a ruffled shirt. 
Lan., N. & Q., 6, III, jj. 

My master hath made me sewer of these great lords, and (God 
knows) I am as serviceable at a table, as a sow is under an 
apple-tree. Green, FBB, 217. 

You have no more use for that article than a monkey has for side- 
pockets. A proverb perhaps confined to the north of England. 
N. & Q., 6, II, 347. 

As useless as a monkey s grease. Lean, II, ii. 

As much need of it as a toad of a side-pocket. Slang. 

About as much use to him as a side-pocket to a toad. SE 
Cor., S. Dev., N. & O., 6, III, yj. As much use of it &c. 
Northall, FPh., 9. Anything unnecessary. 

Nor more use for it than a toad has for a side-pocket. S. Dev., 
SE Cor., Nhp. Yks. Lin., N. & Q., 4, XII, 435, 12, III, 276. 
An old man speaking of a young man who occupied a farm 
and did not understand his business, said, "A varm wur no 
mare use to heem than a side-pocket to a twoid." Glo., N. & Q., 
4, XII, 385. Common in Dor. and Cor., N. & Q., 5, I, 18. 
Lei., Bridge, CP, 18. 

A Berkshire farmer was speaking to an excentric old man who 
was mending the road, when the old fellow said: — "I no 
more loants that than a toad wants side pockets." "What do 
you mean?" was the reply. "Why, a toad don't want side- 
pockets, do he? Nor do I want what you says." N. & Q., 4, 
IV, 147. Why, sir, he didn't want a wife any more'n a toad 
wants a side-pocket. Staf, N. & Q., 6, III, 'jj. 

The little things such as I had striven for — place, position . . . 
were all as worthless as thistledown. Hocking, MF, 87. 
I've heard your boasts; they are idle — idle as thistledown. 
Baring-Gould, RS, 21. Cf. the use of thistledown as a type of 
lightness, flimsiness. 

I respected riches as the sand I trample on; rejected honour as a 
bubble, a puff of wind, vocem populi, a meere sound, and 
weighed women as lightly as feathers. MM, 5. See Light, 
p. 297. 

No viore use for a book than a duck has for an umbrella. Lan., 
Folk-Lore Rec, III, 75 (N. & Q.). Wright, RS, 161. 

As good as nifles in a bag. Withals, 1616 (Lean, II, ii). Nijle, 
a thing of no value, rec. fr. 1386, and common 1550 — 1650. 
'Nifles in a bag' seems to have been a phrase current in 
early MnE. 



— 338 — 

Cease thy counsel, Which falls into my ears as profitless as water 
in a sieve. Shak., MA., V, i, 3. Proverbial phrases such as 
'to carry, fetch, take water in a sieve' of a sleeveless errand, 
are rec. already in ME. Cf. also, 'That which is said in the 
proverb, where one doth niilke a goate, another holds under a 
sieve.' Hieron, 1616, NED. To milk one's cow in a sieve. 
Rnf., 181 3, EDD. 

Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong As 
proofs of holy writ. Shak., Oth., Ill, iii, 326. All delights . . . 
are light as air/ To a true lover when his lady frowns. Beaumont 
& Fletcher, MT, 41. Have faith in me, and don't magnify 
trifles light as air. Hardy, Lao., 294. Whether A. the merchant 
lived or died was a thing as light as air to me. Doyle, SF, 247, 

An one tell'd another 'at his opinions wor o' noa moor use nor a 
duck quackiyi agean thunner. W. Yks. EDD. 



Bad, Rotten. 

As foul as a priest's ear. (Irish), Cheales, 1875 (Lean, II, ii). A 
priest has to hsten to a good many foul things. 

The rails are as rotte?i as your great grandfather. Dekker, GH, 40. 
See Dead, p. 142. 

As bad as Suffolk cheese. Swift (Lean, II, ii). See Hard, p. 258. 

As rottett as an open arse. Lodge, Wit's Mis., 1596 (Lean, II, ii). 
See Useless, p. 336. Cf. But yet I fare as doth an open ers; 
what ilke fruyt is ever lenger the wers. Chaucer, RT, 16. 

His body was as Rotten as a Pear. Brown, 1700, NED. Gay, NS. 

Ez rotte7i ez (a bad) tdnip. Blakeborough, NRY, 242, in daily use. 

As fold as Zebedee s hen that laid three rotten egges to a good 
one. Bartlett (Lean, II, ii). 

x\s rotten as an asker; newt, and it is rotten because it can drop 
its tail off. Bridge, CP, 19 This plom's as rotten as an owd 
asker. Chs. EDD. 

The 'arf of them [gates] 's as rotten as niatchzvood. Galsworthy, 
CH, 269. As the wood of which match-sticks are made 
scarcely can be said to be more rotten than any other wood, 
we are forced to adopt the other sense of the word, touchwood. 
NED has no inst. of this meaning since 1597. But cf. the 
phrase 'to tumble into matchwood.' 

Conjuror Fall was a good man when I was a boy, but he is 
rotten as toiiclnuood by now. Hardy, Tess, 171. In common 
use, Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Touchwood, rec. fr. 1579. 

As rotten as tunder. Yks. EDD. See Dry, p. 308. 



J 



— 339 — 

As rotten as a turd. Ray; Slang, no inst. 

As rotten as dirt. Wilson, Project., 1665 (Lean, II, ii.) 

Note. In G. Br ist so faul xvie Mist, ein Misthaufen. Faul, originally 
foul, has developed to mean lazy. 



Terrible, Dangerous. 

Blacker then night, more terrible then hell. Arber, 29, 71. 

The way as dayigerotis, as inaccessible as hell. Burton, AM, 
III, 190. — 'As black as hell' has sometimes very much the 
same meaning. 

Her fatal breath is fell as death! The simoom's blast is not more 
dire. Barham, IL, 326. See p. 90. 

He's the first begotten of Beelzebub, with a face as terrible as 
Demogorgon. Dryden, SF, VI, 517. In 'The Flower and the 
Leaf Dryden mentions this deity, whose very name was capable 
of producing the most horrible effects: — When the moon 
arises . . . cruel Demogorgon walks his round, and if he finds 
a fairy lag in light, He drives the wretch before and lashes 
into night. — This also gives us a hint as to what D. was, 
the king of elves and fairies. Milton (PL, II) speaks of "the 
dreaded name of Demogorgon". Downe in the bottome of the 
deepe Abysse, Where Demogorgon . . . The hideous Chaos 
keepes. Spenser, FQ, IV, ii, 47. See also ibid. I, v, 22. 
According to Ariosto, D. has a splendid temple palace in the 
Himalaya mountains, whither every fifth year the fates are 
summoned to appear before him, and give an account of their 
actions. Keightley, 1850, NED. For some further notes on 
the ultimate origin of this mythological character see NED. 

The angles of the atoms as sharp as needles and as poiso7tous as 
dianw7id dust. H. Walpole, Letters to the Countess of Ossory, 
clxxxviii (N. & Q., 5, III, 308). Powdered diamond was be- 
lieved to be a most deadly poison. Buckle, 1630 (Lean, II, 
ii). Cf. "It was well known amongst the [medical] profession 
that Cook was not poisoned with strychnine, but with diamond 
dust. That experiments had been made with it, and that the 
symptoms were analogous, or nearly so, to strychnine, and 
that the chemical analysis proved the fact, and that the dust 
was mistaken for the other substance . . ." N. & Q., 3, I, 487. 



Queer, Wonderful. 

As queer as Tint s wife when she hanged herself in a dishclout. 
Lean, II, ii. What is the sense of ^?^<?^r in this sim.? Accord- 



— 340 — 

ing to Lean it means pale. Doubtful. For other sim. with 
queer see p. 98, 162. See also Busy, p. 123. 

As queer as a quaker. Overheard at Oxford. Nonce phrase .f' 

There's nowt so queer as foak. Lan. (Lean, II, ii). Already the 
Greek poet was of this opinion, IloXXd rd beivd, xoubev 
dv9'pco3TOD beivotepov :;TEXei. Sophocles, Antigone, 332. 

As queer as Dick' s iiatband. See p. 97 ff. 

As wonderful as calves with five legs. Beaumont & Fletcher, Wit 
Withotit Money, II, iv (Dyce, IV, 127). Cf. What should my 
knave advance/ To draw his company? he hung out no banners/ 
Of a strange calf, with five legs, to be seen? Jonson, Alch., 
V, i, 6, and ibid. Bart. Fair, III, i, bull with five legs. 
Monsters were in great demand in the cock and bull fighting 
days. 



Free. 

Note. For some ironical sim. with free, liberal, openhanded, 
see Miserly, p. 126 f. 

As free as a bird in ayre. Powell, 1631, NED. You are now 
left as free as a bird to follow your own hobbies. Hardy, 
TT, 96. Left her free as a bird to follow her own course. 
ibid., RN, 180. Phillpotts. SW. In G., Sw. 

From torments and troubles of Body and Mind, Your Bonny Brisk 
Planters are free as the wind. Jordan, 1681, NED. Away, 
away. Goes the fleet daple-grey. Fresh as the breeze and free 
as the wind. Barham, IL, 345. More fleet than the roebuck, 
and free as the wind, She had left the good company rather 
behind, ibid., 465. Hardy, HE, 267. 

As free as air. Marston, The Insatiate Count., 16 13 (Lean, II, ii). 
In Lean insts of 161 2, 1621, and 1664. A fortnight hence 
I shall be as free as air. Peel, 18 18, NED. You are as free 
as air till you are found guilty. Smyth, 1824, NED. In this 
enlightened land justice is free as the air we breathe, strong 
as the licker we drink . . . London, GF, 128. Our young 
women nowadays are running about as free as air practically. 
Wells, AV, 30. Roget. 

She's no man's slave . . . Her eye Moves not on wheels screw'd 
up with jealousy. She . . . does merry journeies make, Free 
as the sun in his gilt zodiac. Dekker, HWh, lb. 



Rich. 

As rich as Croesus. Wright, Displ. of Duty, 161 1 (Lean, II, ii); 
Burton, AM, I, 319, Stevens, 1707, NED, Gay NS; The old 



— 341 — 

ruffian is rich as Croesus. Hornung, TN, g. Roget; Brewer. 
Ware has the phrase 'as rich as erases (Irish).' According to 
him crazes is 'of course' a corruption of Croesus, But why 
'of course'? There may be some Irish word behind it. 

As rich as Darner. — "John Darner, of Antrim, migrated in the 
time of George I to Tipperary, established himself in some 
business, and acquired wealth." H. 

As rich as Cock's canny hinnies. — "They were the daughters and 
co-heiresses of Alderman Ralph Cock, of Newcastle. The above 
proverb was no doubt highly popular, not only in the days 
of the worthy alderman, but also during a long subsequent 
period." DenJiani Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXIX, 297. 

Yf any of them [the marvels I schall to you shew] be untrue — • 
Then wax I as pore as the Byschop of Chester. Another version 
is, I wolde I were as bare as the Bischope of Chester. MSS c. 
1440. A sarcastic allusion to the wealth of the Bishopric, 
which at that time was of immense extent. Bridge, CP, 9. 

You'd be as rich as kings if you could find it. Stevenson, TI, 24. 
Then we shall all be rich, rich as kings. London, GF, 161. 

I spoke of my own estates and property, as if I was as ricJi as a 
duke. Thackeray, BL, iii. 

I wish I was as ricJi as a lord when he is as poor as a crow. 
Hardy, UGT. 

Great as an Emp'ror should I be/ And richer than a Jew. Gay, NS. 
She's gettin' as rich as a Jew. Eliot, MF, 361. Hewett, Dev. 
12. Roget. 'This expression arose in the M. Ages, when Jews 
were almost the only merchants, and were certainly the most 
wealthy of the people." Brewer. The sim, must be much 
earlier than our insts. 

A bowerly girl she be, and pretty, and sweet as sugar, and as 
ricJt as a gold-mine. Phillpotts, WF, 439. 

As ronk as the Roodee. — Ronk, very rich and fertile. Rood-eye, 
the celebrated racing-course at Chester. Bridge, CP, 19. 

As bigge as a begger, as fat as a fool,/ As true as a tinker, as 
ricli as an owle. AV, (Dodsley, xii, 348). See p. 112, 
where the whole passage is quoted. Is the wise bird of night 
supposed to guard treasure-hoards, like the dragon of old.'' 

'Hote. So reich wie Salomo, Krosus, cler Markgraf zu Meissen, vjie 
Rotschild, ein Amsterdamer Handelsherr, em Jiide, ein Commissar (origin- 
ally Fr.), ein Sautrelber an Martini &c. Wander. 



Poor. 

Note. For some sim. with poor = thin, see Thin, Lean, p. 
185 ff. 
As bare as Job. Udall, 1542; Nice Wanton, 1560 (H., Old Plays, 



— 342 — 

II, 1/2); Draxe, 1633 (Lean, II, ii). "Too rare to be general". 
U. Probably obsolete. 

To ben for evere til I dele As povere as Job. Gower, 1390, 
NED. Tushe, thou art as poor as Job. Wilson, 1553, NED. 
Shak., MW, V, v, 149. He's poor as Job, and not so patient. 
Byron, 1822, NED. Hardy, HE, 479 (of a man who had an 
income of i6 150). H. and Lean have insts of 1506, 1609, 1614, 
1638, and 1830. Ray, Roget &c. "This similitude runs through 
most languages." Ray. Lean has an inst. of it in Fr. of 1549. 
In D. and G. It refers of course to Job, I, 13 — 19, 21, where 
we are told how he was deprived of all he possessed and 
when recognizing his destitute state he said. Naked came I 
out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. 
I should rather be as poor as Job's cat all my life. Smith, 
1866, Thornton. 

Captain Jack looks as poor as Job's turkey. Haliburton, 1838, 
Slang. He's as poor as Job's turkey, if it wan't for that 
powerful sallury the trustees give him. Carlton, 1843, Thornton. 
Other Amer. insts ibid, of 1852, 1856, 1872. For some addi- 
tions to this sim. see p. 188. 

All the honest people he ever knew were as poor as King David's 
goslings. Bird, 1839, Thornton. Where are these extraordinary 
domestic fowl spoken of.f^ 

As poor as Lazarus. Brewer, Diet. 996. 

(Poorer than Irtis. A Greek proverb adopted by the Romans, and 
existing in Fr., Plus pauvre qti Irns, alluding to the beggar in 
Odyssey, XVIII. Brewer, Diet. 996. Iro pauperior, a phrase 
that seems to have been a good deal used in mediaeval L., as 
it has found its way into several collections of Proverbs. See 
e. g. Wander). 

Marrying Mr Cecil Devereux, who is 2^?, poor, they say, as a ConnaugJit 
7nan. Miss Edgeworth, Enjtui, xi. Ware. Cf. "Go to hell or 
Connaught", a proverbial phrase rec. fr. the middle of the 17th c, 
to express the barrenness and bleakness of the poorest of Irish 
counties. 

As poor as a clapperdudgcon. World Bewitched, 1699 (Lean, II, ii). 
Clapperdudgeon, a beggar born, rec. fr. 1567. 

We are as poor as patipers. Malvery, SM, 61. Cf. Tablecloths . . . 
as poor and ragged as any union beggar's. Hardy, UGT, 132. 
As poor as pauper soup. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Pauper 
rec. fr. c. 1 500. 

As poor as truth. Seco?id Maiden' s Tragedy, II, ii (Lean, II, ii). 

As poor as vertue and as friendless. Ibid. (H., Old Plays, x). 

As poor as a groat. — An intimation of comparative poverty. 
Yks. EDD. See p. 185. 

Captain de S., who i? as poor as a gallicrow. Hardy, Lao., 273. 
Gallycroir, a scarecrow, rec. in Wil. and Dor. Gaily, frighten, 
is found already in the early seventeenth c, but is now only 



— 343 — 

dial. Cf. "Look!" cried N., "a walking scarecrow!" Grace 
recognized the being, and laughed. "A scarecrow, you say. 
That's the richest woman on Dartmoor." Phillpotts, AP, 6o. 
See Ragged, p. 230. 

As rich as a neiv-shorn sheep. Ray. Lean quotes this fr. Cock 
Lord's Bote, c. 15 10; Baret, Alvearie, 1580; Marriage of Wit 
and Wisdom (H., Old Plays, ii, 335). 

Poor as a sheep new shorn. Peele, Old Wifes Tale, 1595 
(Lean, II, ii). 

My old man's poor as a rabbit also. Phillpotts, WP", 126. 

The owner, 'tis said, was once poor as a chiirchmouse. 1 731, NED. 
The young couple are as poor as churchmice. Thackeray, 
1848, NED. Brewer, Diet., 996; Bohn; Roget; Hewett, Dev., 
12; Wood, Mayix P., 251, &c. Cf. As for the "ready" I'm 
like a churchmouse, — I really don't think there's five pounds 
in the house. Barham, IL, 271. So you are as poor as an 
Irish churchmouse again. Mason, PK, 68. — This sim. is in 
Sw., G., Dutch (Flanders), Fr. : fattig som en kyrkratta, arm 
wie cine Kirchenmatis , zoo arm als de ratten, miiizen in ketk, 
il est pauvre (gueux) comme un rat d'eglise. See Stoett, NS, 
I, 43; Wander. — It has not been possible to find out whether 
the sim. has risen independently in these languages, or, which 
is more probable, has been borrowed from one of them, 
possibly Fr., into the others. 

You know I am as poor as a mouse. Hardy, Lao., 180. 
As poor as a rat. Burney, 1782, NED. Marryat, 1833, NED. 
Roget. As poor as rats. Swift's Stella (N. & Q., 10, VII 469). 
All as poor as rats, and no one better than the other. Weyman, 
1900, NED. And though poor as a nest of rats, we was 
never in debt. Phillpotts, WP"", 263. See Dnmk, p. 208. 

As poor as a craiv. Peacock, Lin. Gloss. (Lean, II, ii). Hewett, 
Dev., 12. 

Being so poor as a coot, I was counted just a baggering, old worthless 
poacher. Phillpotts, WF, 20; ibid. SW. Cor. EDD. See Bare, 
p. 254. 

We be poor as birds, and very near as cheerful. Phillpotts, WF, 134. 

Such drifts drave he, from ill to worse,/ Till he was as bare as a 
bird's arse. Money and money's worth so did miss him/ That 
he had not now one penny to bliss him. Heyvvood, PE, 89. 
As bare as a bird' s tail. n. Lin. Said of a person who has 
lost everything he possessed. Folk-Lore, LXIII, 407. See 
Bare, p. 254. 

As full of mo7iey as a toad is of feathers. Grose (Slang). 

I've to keep at it, an's as poor as a nit. v. Yks., 1881. EDD. See 
Dead p. 147. 

You might haue seen me as poore as an open-arse. VW, 35. See 
Rotten, p. 338. 

The Scotch proverb, which says of a very poor man that he is 



— 344 — 

"as bare as a birk at Yule een", probably refers to an old 
custom of stripping the bark of the tree prior to converting 
it into the yule log. Folkard, PL, 254. But cf, "This does 
not concern the Christmas log. Birches are denuded of their 
foliage long before Christmas ... A birchwood in winter, with 
its multiplicity of dark twigs, is extremely bare." Denham 
Tracts, Folk-Lore, XXXV, 91. See p. 255, where it is made 
clear that it is the leaf-less state of the birch in winter-time 
that has caused the sim. 

"In an article in the Quarterly On the Exhaustion of the Soil in 
Great Britain is quoted the proverb 'as poor as CrawborougJi . 
Having lived in the locality for years without hearing it, I am 
anxious to know if any of your Sussex readers are familiar 
with it." N. & Q., 4, XI, 238. "My grandfather, born in 
1786, was an E. Sussex yeoman, and in speaking of land, 
would often use the proverb. The soil is of iron sand forma- 
tion, hence its sterility." ibid. 350. See geological works 
on Sussex, e. g. Mantell, Geology of Sussex, i, 125. 

In speaking of land, the climax of poverty is 'so poors a hill. — 
Hill, common. Elworthy, WSG, 339. 

Oliver be poor as rushy land. Baring-Gould, RS, 230. 

Ez poor as moorland. Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 

But riches fineless is as poor as ivinter To him that ever fears he 
shall be poor. Shak., Ill, iii, 177. 

Note. Some sim. in G. : Arm wie Hiob, Arm und ruhmsiichtig wie cin 
Maler. Armor als Kodrus, Irus, Telenikus, Pauson (Iro, Codro, Tele- 
nico pauperior. Erasmus), arm wie Lazarus, eine Hure in der Marter- 
woche (see p. 66, lenten lover), eine Schnecke, eine Ameise. Wander. 
— In D.: zoo arm als Job, een Laplander (Flanders\ een lerlander 
(Fland.), een schooier (Fland.), een Kozak (Fland.), en luis, de mieren, 
een worm aan de haak. Stoett, NS, I, 43. 



Dear. 

As dear as two eggs a pejiny. Ray. 

As good a bargain as an egg for a penny. Letter of 1598, 
in Calendar of the Cecil Papers, Vol. 8. (N. & Q., 9, X, 154). — 
We have only to substitute shilling for penny to suit present 
day conditions. 'Two eggs a penny' would be enormously 
cheap now, but it was a different thing in the sixteenth c. 
The writer of the ST (p. 98) complains of circumstances that 
"cause the egges to be sold fower a penny." And in 1599 
Nashe writes, "It were to be wished that other coasters were 
so industrious as the Yarmouth . . . Then we should haue 
twentie egges a pennie, and it would be as plentifull a world 
as when the Abbies stood. (Ill, 171). The state of things 
"when the Abbies stood" appears from the following verse: — 



— 345 — 

Ch'ill tell thee what, good vellowman, 

Bevore the vriers went hence, 

A bushell of the best wheat 

Was sold vor vourteen pence, 

And vorty eggs a penny, 

That were both good and new . . . 

Reliquies of Ancient English Poetry. 

The scene was Glastonbury Abbey, which was demolished in 
1539- The conversation recorded in the verse is supposed 
to have taken place some 40 years later. (N. & Q., 9, IX, 412). 
Taylor, the Water Poet, who lived and travelled half a century 
later, could buy twelve eggs for a penny (SL, 15). We have 
Johnson's authority, in his Journey to the Western Islands, 
that 200 years before a hundred hen's eggs new laid were sold 
for a penny (N. & Q., 9, X, 154), and in 1596 15 to 20 doz. 
were sold at Cambridge for 4d. But that must have been very 
cheap, as in 1536 we find that the price of eggs at Canterbury 
was fixed by the corporation to 6 eggs a penny. (N. & Q., 
9, IX, 278). But that again appears to have been rather dear, 
for Wither, writing in 161 3, says in his Abuses, Stript and 
Whipt, II, ii, Things were cheap and 'twas a goodly many/ 
When we had four and twenty eggs a penny. (Lean, II). 
But that of course refers to the good old time when everything 
was supposed to be good and cheap. As late as in 1679 one 
could buy 3 eggs for a penny, which shows that about that 
time prices had risen so as to make the sim. meaningless. 
For further notes on the price of eggs see N. & Q., 8, IX, 
passim and Rogers' The History of Agriculture and Prices in 
England, Vol. IV— VI. 

Cf. Miss. What! and you must come in with your two eggs 
a penny, and three of them rotten. Swift, PC, 242; a pro- 
verbial phrase often used by Swift. There are other forms 
of the same proverb: He comes in with his five eggs a penny, 
and four be addled and rotten. Draxe, 1633 (Lean, III). He 
comes in with his five eggs and four be rotten, is Clarke's 
wording. Taylor, in his Praise of Henipseed, says, Another 
spends his five eggs like Tom Ladle,/ Brings in his five eggs, 
four of which are addle. (Lean, III). Five eggs a penny, and 
four of them addle, is according to NED the standard form. 
Different in the following passages: What, come you in with 
your seuen egges? Misogc^ms (ed. Brandl in Quellen, II, v, 93). 
Ten egs for a penny, and nine of them rotten. Nashe, III, 129. 
For some further insts -see McKerrow, Notes, 366 f., where 
it is traced back to the tale Quinque Ova in Facetiae by 
Poggio. 
'Tis a purty little place, he'd let so dear s saffurn. w. Som. As 
dear as saffron. Lin. Cor., EDD; Hewett, Dev. 11. "Why 



— 346 — 

saffron should be used in this sense, I do not know." E. 
Peacock, Lin., Folk-Lore, LIII, 408. The explanation is very 
simple. Anyone wanting to buy a pound of saffron will find 
it out. 

Cheap. 

(Cheap as a Sardinian. A Roman phrase referring to the great 
crowds of Sardinian prisoners brought to Rome by Tiberius 
Gracchus, and offered for sale at almost any price. Brewer, 
Diet., 242. Cf. the old border phrase. We will not lose a 
Scot. Ray.). 

A few drops of women's rheum, which arc As c/iea/> as /ies. Shak., 
Co., V, vi, 46. 

Ez c/ieaj> ez promises. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 

She's very pretty, and as cJieap as neck-beef. Sedley, 1687, NED. 
Also in Swift (Lean, II, ii). Sec Useless, Worthless, p. 336. 

As cheap as biillbeef. w. Som. Superlative absolute of cheap. Cf. 
Which look as cheap as bullbeef at one cent a pound. Hali- 
burton, i860. Slang. See Intimacy, p. 328. 

You may buy land now as cheap as stinking mackerel. Shak., KH 
IVa, II, vi, 340. 

As cheap as old clothes. H., Walpole, Letter of 1786 (Lean, II, ii.) 

So cheap's a dog in a halfpenny, w. Som. EDD. Superlative abso- 
lute of cheap. Cf. the common phrase dog-cheap, 

CJieap's dirt. w. Som. EDD. Roget. 

A pedlar or other dealer will commend his wares to his customers as 
being as cheap as vinck. N. & Q., 5, XI, 73. Cabbidges is as 
cheap as muck nah-a-days. Nhb., EDD. 



Easy, Simple. 

Note. See also the following section. Comfortable, Snug. 
'Tis simple as Scripture story. Hardy, MC, 10. Simple, rec. fr. 

1555- 

As easy as my eye. Popular. Slang. 

The ladies was easy as mittens. Milliken, 'Arry Ballads (Slang). 
Does it mean that the ladies ir question are of "easy virtue", 
or simply that they are easy to get on with, or a bit free 
in their manners? See the folio ving form. 
As easy as a glove. Hardy, UGT. In this case easy means 
(originally) comfortably and loosely fitting, not tight. Cf. The 
woman's an easy glove, my lord, she goes off and on a 
pleasure. Shak., AW, V, iii, 271. A sentence is but a 
cheveril glove to a good wit; hov quickly the wrong side may 
be turned outward, Shak., TN, III, i, 10. See Soft, 266. 



— 347 — 

As easy as my (an) old shoe. Yks. War. EDD. Spoken of the 
fit of anything. Northall, FPh. 8. As easy as a shoe. Baker, 
N'hants Gloss. (Lean, II, ii). Cf. A glove or boot so many 
times puU'd on may well sit easy on the hand or foot. 
Fielding, Tom Thumb., II, vii (Lean, II, ii). 

He could name kittle words as smooth as satin. Nicholson, 1814, 
Gall. EDD. Smooth, glibly, without difficulty. See p. 269. 

He'd feight the whole lot on 'em ... as easy as ninepence. Lan. 
Gloss., 1881. NED. 

If I didn't see him whip a picture out of its frame, as neat 
as ninepence. 1857, Blackw. Mag., NED. We have nobbled 
him, as neat as ninepence. Henley & Stevenson, 1884, Slang. 
Neat must mean 'with ease, dispatch and cleverness'. For 
another application of the same sim. see p. 218. 

Simple as ABC. 

As easy as ABC. DNL, i March, '16. Slang. Popular; ex- 
tremely facile; the acme of ease. This colloquialism is by no 
means of modern growth. Shak. speaks of an answer 'coming 
like ABC-book.' Slang, 

As easy to understand as dig print. Phillpotts, SW. Cf. 'neat, 
clean as print', p. 219. 

The dunce at school knows that if you take %o from one side and 
add it on to the other, the difference is not 80 but 160. It 
is as simple as how many blue beans make five. DNL, 1889, 
Slang. 'He do know how many beans make five,' a very 
common description of a clever cute fellow, w. Som. EDD. 
Few men who better knew how many blue beans it takes to 
make five. Gait., 1830, NED. See p. TJ. 

Its as simple as tit-tat-toe, three in a row, and as easy as playing 
hooky. I should hope we could find a way that is more com- 
plicated than that. Twain, HE, 301. Tit-tat-toe, a children's 
game, rec. in NED fr. 1855. Tick-tack-to, tip-tap-to, tit-bo-tat, 
kit-cat-cannis are names of the same or similiar games. 

Women be a noble branche of learning, and they'm like reading . . 
to some they come as easy as pat. Phillpotts, M, 28. Pat 
stands for anything that comes easily and to the purpose. 
See p. 318, 9. 

As easy as to say Jack Robi?ison. Lean, II, ii. 'Before one can 
say Jack Robinson', rec. in NED fr. 1778, is a phrase more 
known. See e. g. Hardy, UGT, 175, 6. It is supposed to 
have originated from a volatile gentleman of that appellation, 
who would call on his neighbours, and be gone before his 
name could be pronounced. Grose, 1785 (Slang). 

'This all so easy as cursing., she said. Phillpotts, AP, 407. 
Easy as damn it. Popular. Slang. 

Hamlet. . . Will you play upon this pipe? Gui. My Lord, I cannot. 
Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying. Shak., Hamlet, III, ii. 

A-s easy as to lick a dish. Ray. 



— 34S — 

As easy as to kiss ones hand. Torriano, 1666, (Lean, II, ii). 

They would shew you a crock o' money as aisy as kiss hand. 

Ir., 1844, EDD. It's as easy as kiss your hand. White, SE, 13. 

She cud 'ave gort in as easy as kissin' the beck o' yer and. 

Pain, DO, 19. 

As simple as kissing ha?ids. Strand Mag., Nov. 19 12. 

I lay it's as easy as kiss-niy-thumb For to have my way 

wi' her. Munby, 1891, NED. 

'Tis all as easy as kissing. Castle, IB, 63. 

I should have cleared two hundred as easy as looking. Hardy, 
FMC, 305. 

As aizy as fawin off a chair when yo're drunk. Chs. Gl. 

To such a man, deceiving a simple soul like her was as easy as 
falling off a log or picki7ig Ids teeth. Phillpotts, TK, 102. 

As easy zs felling a log. Bartlett.? (Lean, II, ii). 

As easy as pissing a bed. Ray. In Bohn we read, As easy 
p — ssing a bed as to lick a dish, 187. This is also found in 
Slang, probably from Bohn. This must be the result of mis- 
quotation. In Ray, ed. Bohn, p. 187, Bohn prints, As easy 
as p — ssing a bed, as to lick a dish, which of course means, 
'as easy as to lick a dish.' 

As easy as get out. N. & Q., 12, III, 116. There are some other 
sim. in which get out occurs: As mean as get out. NI, 
EDD. He glooart at me as impident as get out. Cum., 1881, 
EDD. They meadd t'blankets far warse nor git oot. ibid. 
EDD. This must refer to the colloquial use of the imper. get 
out to express 'disbelief, dissent, or a desire to hear no more', 
rec. in NED fr. 1 7 1 1 . 

I done it as slick as a ivhistle. 1844, Slang. Slick, easily, Amer. 
See p. 321. 

Regular as clockwork it happened, quiet and easy as a door on 
a greased hinge. "Q", MV, 233. 

You might all manage to get on as slick as goose-grease without 
as much doctor-stuff as would physic an adolescent spider. 
Dow, 1853, Thornton. Up thar all glides as "slick' as goose 
grease. Dow, 1854, Thornton. 

Thus happy I hope I shall pass sleek as grease down the cur- 
rent of time. 1804, Thornton.. As slick as grease. Halibur- 
ton, 1843, NED. 

We should think that the roads in Greece would be as slick as 
He. 1840, Thornton. As smoothly and easily "as lightning 
on a greased railroad." The siriile is David Crochet's own. 
Yale Lit. Mag., XVII, 61, Thornton. 

Comes apart light as a feather. Stowe, UTC, 26. Light, easily. 

J)en wurch forth in the other figurys till thou come to the end, 
for it is lyght as dyche water. 1425, NED. For other sim. 
with ditchwater, see p. 85, 54. 



349 



Comfortable. 

Us'll be so snug as seven- sleepers. Phillpotts, SW. — The seven 
sleepers mentioned in NED fr. c. looo. Snug, rec. fr. 1630. 

"Thought I'd better report, sir; cargo's not shifted; she's as J7z/^^ as 
a nigger in treacle below there," bellowed a voice that laughed 
derision to the howling anger of the gale. CasseTs Mag. of 
Fid., 1914, 169. Snug of a ship means trim. 

A glass of this wine is as comfortable as matrimony \.o an old woman. 
Swift, PC, 276. Comfortable, refreshing, sustaining. The adj. 
is rec. in E. fr. 1377. This sense, now obs., rec. fr. 1440, 
the ordinary current senses fr. c. 1760. 

She cried a bit when there was no more to be had, but a warm 
bath with some boric acid in it made her sleepy. An' there 
she is snug as a cat. Tracy, Pillar, 27. 

Thou art as wairm and comfortable as a hog sJieep in winter neights. 
Yks. , 1870, EDD. Hog sheep is a one year old sheep. 

Let us sleep as S7iug as pigs in pea-straw. Heywood, WK-K, 69. 
Snug as a pig &c. Davenport, New Trick &c., 1639, H. Cf. 
Happy, p. 78. 

As covfortable as chick in wool. Northall, FPh. 

It makes all the house/ Lie as snug as a mouse, And a petticoat 
sleep without porters. Wilson, Andron., II, iv, 1664 (Lean). 

Put your things in there, and when you are in yourself you'll be 
as comfortable as an oyster in its shell. Jacobs, MC, 29. 

So they hoisted her down just as safe and as well/ And as snug 
as a hodmandod rides in his shell. Anstey, 1766, NED. Hod- 
mandod, a snail-shell, sometimes the snail itself. 

He sits as snug as a Bee in a box, making his honey, 1709, NED. 

You'll be snug there as a btig in a blanket. Malkin, 1809, NED. 
If she [a rich widow] has the mopus's, I'll have her, as snug 
as a bug in a rug. 1769, NED. Does not sritig here mean 
something like securely caught (see NED), sure.? — You might 
sit as snug as a bug in a rug. Hook, 1833, NED. Mac- 
taggart, Gallov. Enc, 1824 (Lean, II, ii). Hewett, Dev., 12, 
Elworthy, WSG, 691 (a common superl. absol.). Cf. A cowardly 
crew, all wanting to keep each other warm, like bugs in a rug. 
Phillpotts, WF, 327. Some people not content with the usual 
everyday sense of the word rug, a thick woollen wrap or blan- 
ket, have suggested that it stands for rogue, a tramp, or 
means some kind of dog. The first form of the sim. renders 
all such conjectures superfluous. Cf. also 'as close as a flea in 
a flocke bed.' Breton, 1604, Lean, II, ii, and 'intricate as a 
flea in a bottom of flaj^..' See Safe. 



— 350 — 



Difficult. 

Note. Some of the sim. under Hard p. 258 ff. are perhaps 
also used in this sense. 

It is as hard to enter my beHef/ Ks Dives into heaven. Hey wood, 
WKK, 50. Dives taken as the proper name of the rich man 
in the parable Luke 17 and hence generically for a rich man 
is rec. in E. fr. Chaucer. 

It was as hard to be earliest in a woman's heart as it was to be 
first in the pool of Bethesda. Hardy, PBE, 363. 

It is as hard a thing as to sail over the sea in an eggshell. H. 

As diffiadt as driving a black pig in the dark. N. & Q., 10, XII, 
318. See p. loi, as obstinate as a pig. 

As troublesome as a zvasp in one's ear. Fuller, Giioin., 1731. 

As intricate as a fi,ea in a bottom of flax. Reliquiae Wotto?iianae y 
ed. 1672, p. 452. The saying seems to be introduced pro- 
verbially. H. Bottom, a skein or ball of thread; this sense obs. 
since the middle of the eighteenth c. 

The following phrases deserve to be quoted under .this head: 
The ladies prove averse, / And more untoward to be won/ Than 
by Caligula the moon. Butler, H., II, 50. Thou art as like 
to obtain thy wish as the wolf is to eat the moon. H. Raw 
beef was almost as obtainable as raw moon. Oxenham, MS, 
53. He cries for the moon, i. e. for something altogether 
beyond his reach. H. Cf. II veut prendre la lune avec les deiits. 
Zij zvilleti den maan mit den tanden pakken. Den tnond mit 
deji Zdhnen fassen. Nach detn Monde greifen. Wander. See 
p. 133. Sw. Att ta ner manen, to take down the moon.. 
See p. 133 



Safe, Secure. 

Note. See the following section. Sure. 

Safe as death. Nhb. EDD. ^ 

As safe as my life. Davenport, Nciv Trick &c., II, ii, i639(Lean„ 
II, ii). 

We may do it as secure as sleep. Shak., KH IVa, I, ii. 

The plain ones [women] are safe as churches. Hardy, T, 114. Cf. 
There are your damned goblets, as safe as in a church. Steven- 
son, NAN, 315. Cf the sim. 'as fast as a church tied to a 
holly-bush, or a stake.' Jackson & Burne, 595. What is the 
application.^ 

No man will quarrel with you. You shall be as secure as chrisom 
children. Shirley, Doubtful Heir, II, ii, 1636 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 



— 351 ~ 

Mr Badman died like a lamb; or as they call it, like a chrisom 
child, quietly and without fear. Bunyan, 1680, NED. 
Safe as a thief ift a mill. Day, He of Gvls, 1609, H. There she 
may lodge, and trade too, if she will. As sure and safe as 
thieves are in a mill. Tayler, 1630, Slang. You can give this 
wench a dish of trotters for restority, and that wench a dish 
of guts, to scour her maw; whilst I, poor soul, sit at home with 
a dish of pouts; and they, to requite your kindness, one brings a 
plumcake, another brings a goose, and thus when you feast 
together, you are as safe as so many thieves in a mill. Vine- 
gar & Mti., 20. Ray. You gaol birds — are as safe as 
thieves in a mill within this sanctuary. Motteux, 1694, Slang. 
Why, Miss, let Tom Neverout wait on you and then, I war- 
rant, you'll be as safe as a thief in a mill. Swift, PC, 247. 
As fast as a thief in a mill. — "Quite safe, with no means of 
escape. The mill referred to would be one of the old wooden 
windmills, built on posts, with only one way of ingress or 
egress, and which could easily be surrounded, thus giving no 
chance of escape to the thief therein." Nicholson, e. Yks, 
1889, EDD. — Whatever may be the application of the Yks. 
form of the sim., the earlier insts do not refer to a person 
who is sure to be caught, quite the contrary, to one that is 
secure and certain to escape. But whether a thief was more 
likely to be safe, in this sense of the word, in a mill, than 
elsewhere, is a matter of doubt, but we know for certain that 
one is safe, i. e. sure, to find a thief in the mil!., viz. the 
miller himself. Folk-rhymes of to-day, proverbs, and quips of 
wags and jokers in Elizabethan plays and jest-books bear 
witness to the miller's bad repute. "Miller, miMer, blow your 
horn. You shall be hanged for stealing cqvn," is a Shrop- 
shire rhyme (Northall, FR, 327). "Many a mil\er, many a thief," 
says the miller's wife in Vinegar & Mu., 19. "Meg going 
one day with her neighbours to make merry, a miller near 
Epping looking out, the boy they had with them . . . said, 
'Put out, Miller; put out.' 'What must ^ 'be put out?' said he. 
'A thief's head and ears,' said the ot)Lier." Long Meg, xx. 
"This meller stal both mele and corn,"; said already Chaucer, 
and see p. 113, Consequently, the sin/i. would originally mean 
'as safe (=sure) as (there is) a thief iiTi a mill.' But there is a 
difficulty about this interpretafion. Th|ts sense of the adj. safe 
is not rec. before some 150 years 'kfter the earliest inst. of 
our sim. It may perhaps mean that (the miller, although pro- 
verbially a thief, generally manages/ to keep within the law, 
and so he is safe in his mill. It is| also well known that in 
many parts in early times the mills, were the meeting-places 
of all sorts of disreputable people, land so perhaps notorious 
felons resorted there as to some so/rt of sanctuary where the 
representatives of the law did not c/.are to go. If this was the 



case they might say that in the mill they were "as safe as in 
a sanctuary". (Spenser, FO, IV, ix, 19). But in order to be 
perfectly sure of the origin of this sim. one must learn more 
about the old mills and life in and around them. See further 
down 'as safe as a mouse in a mill.' 

Safe as brandy. Nhb., NED. 

We've got the Derby and Leger this next j'ear as safe as eggs. 
Collins, 1 87 1, NED. — This must be elliptically for 'as safe 
(= sure) as eggs (is eggs)'. See Sure p. 356. 

If they are in yonder shed, they are packed as safe as lierrings 
in a barrel. Caine, D, xxxiv. See Close, p. 324. 

They're safe however. — As a gtihiea in a miser s purse. Gold- 
smith, SSC, 256. 

As safe as treasure in a kist/ Is the da}'' in an old moon's mist. 
Denham, Proverbs, 15. Cf. the following sayings: An old moon 
in a mist/ Is worth gold in a kist; But a new moon's mist/ 
Will never lack thrist. Inwards, Weather Lore, 42. The 
new moon's mist/ Is better than gold in a kist, is the York- 
shire opinion. Northall, FR, 461. Kist, a chest or a place in 
which money is kept, rec. fr. 1619. 

Ha'th got tha Kolra safs a nit. Hogg, Dev., 1866, EDD. This 
nit may possibly be the word we have in 'dead, poor as a 
nit', but it is far more likely to be the other word nit, nut. 
The sim. would be a development or ellips of 'as safe (and 
sound) as a nut'. 

As safe as the Bank [of England]. Lean, II, ii. Slang. A lot 
of securities which I thought as safe as the Bank of England. 
Hocking, MF, 70. Cf. His word is as good as the bank. 
Holcroft, 1834 (Lean, II, ii). There's nobody will touch 
your lordship's money. I am as safe as the bank. Stevenson, 
NAN, 75. Cf. So sicker wie die Lo7tdoner Bank Wander. But 
also Zoo vast, seker, sekuur als de bank. Stoett, NS, I, 61. 
So sicker wie die Bank von Amsterdam. Wander. 

If you was caught up and brought afore the Lord Mayor, he'd 
give you fourteen days on it, as safe as the bellozus. Mayhew, 
185 1, Slarig. Origin.? 

Safe as a trivet. DNIL, 3/3, '13. See Rigkt, p. 369. 

'Tis as pure, and as swre, and secure as a gun. The young lover's 
business is happily done. Fielding, 1733, NED. They'll sure 
to gee un a month vor't, saaf b.s a gun. Elworthy, WSG, 729. 
See Sure, p. 370. 

The owner of the weap'on assured him he was as safe as kouses. 
Cornwallis, 1859, KED. I have the means of doing that, as 
safe as houses. Yates, 1864, Slarig. We're safe to nab him; 
safe as houses. i8(!57, Slang. The whole story will have to 
go through Parliame;nt House, and I shall be high-treasoned — 
as safe as houses. Hardy, DR, 376, ibid., FMC, 472. Why, 
of course, then, that'^ the explanation of it — safe as houses, 



- 353 — 

you may depend upon it. Grant Allen, 1886, Slaijg. You 
may make your forgery itself as safe as houses. 1890, ibid. 
I overlaid my book against Wheatear; I'd heard that she was 
as safe as 'ouses. More, 1894, Slang. Yes 'ir, I'm saved as 
safe as houses. Stooke, Dev. (n. d.), EDD. He's shut off 
his engine — volplaning, you know, safe as houses. Cassel s 
Mag. of Fid., July, 236, '14. Northall, FPh. 10 (usually spo- 
ken of investment). As safe as.« house. Baumann. Cf. As 
safe as in houses. North, Examen^ 1740; (Lean, II, ii). 

As safe as the king's highway. Torriano, 1666, (Lean, II, ii). — 
From a present-day point of view this must express rather a 
pious desire than the actual state of things in the seventeenth 
c, but the different degrees of safety in the time of the Com- 
monwealth must not be measured by our standards. Cf. "The 
two phrases ['the King's peace', and the 'King's highway'] are 
indeed intimately connected; they come from the time when 
the king's protection was by no means universal but particular, 
when the king's peace was not for all men or all places, and 
the king's highway was in a special manner protected by it." 
Pollock, 1895, NED. 

You know you are as safe as a cow tied to a ivall behind that 
table. White, BT, 179. 

He's safe as a pig in a pen. Oxenham, MS. 

Ez seeaf as a pig ring. Blakeborough, NRY, 239. Is it because 
the ring is a safe means of preventing the pig from rooting? 

As safe as a mouse in a cheese. Ray. Cf. To speak like a mouse 
in a cheese, Rec. fr. 18 J i in Slang. 

Safe as a mouse in a malt heap. Clarke, H. Ray. 

As safe as a mouse in a mill. Davenport, Netv Trick %ic., 1639, H. 

I've got him. Safe as a rat in a trap. Kingsley,, WH, 237. 

He is ours now safely, sir . . ." ''Safe as a fox in a trap. Satan 
himself cannot take him from us." Kingsley, WH, 496. 
Here, safe as a fox in cat'th, she remained close hidden. 
Phillpotts, AP, 317. 

We are all ruined as safe as coons. 1864, ,Slang. The explana- 
tion may be, "We are all ruined as sur/ely as coons are 'gone 
coons'," which expression is rec. in Siding fr. 1845. 

As safe as a crow in a gutter. Ray. — /As there is no context 
to tell us the meaning of the word t'safe', we must suppose 
that it stands for 'secure'. But a gjutter is not nowadays a 
very safe, or secure, place for a crow;. But 400 years ago the 
streets were different. The crows, estoecially the carrion-crow, 
must have found the gutters of e. ». late mediaeval London 
something of a paradise, and perhap.i they made themselves as 
much at home there as pigeons andl sparrows in our modern 
towns. And as long as London's/ chief traffic was on the 
river, they were perhaps not too mjiich disturbed. 

23 



— 354 — 

I pumped her dry, and, no doubt, thought the secret was so safe 
with her as a bird in a bush. Phillpotts, WF, 438. 

The doctor visited me . . and . . said, 'you are as safe as a bug 
in a rug: Hutton, 1798, NED. See Comfortable., p. 349. 



Sure. 

As sure as God made Moses. Sam SHck, Wise Saivs, 1855 (Lean, 
II, ii). Cf. I'm going to shape the courses of this shebang, 
and you observe; and if you do anything more, I'll bore 
you as sure as Moses. London, GF, 113. 

As sure as God's in Gloucester(shire). Ray; Bailey, 1721, NED. 
He hitcht 'pon spire of magick steeple. And truly had not 
some ran quick/ And succoured him in just the nick/ He 
had broke his neck and life lost there,/ Assure (poor wretch) 
as God's in Gloucester." H. Lean has insts of 1606 and 
1632. — There has been a good deal of discussion as to the 
origin of this sim. Fuller says, "This proverb is no more 
fit to be used than a toad can be wholesome to be eaten . . . 
Some, I know, seek to qualify this proverb, making God emin- 
ently in this, but not exclusive!}' out of other counties; where 
such the former fruitfulness thereof, that it is said to return 
the seed with increase of an hundred fold. Others find a 
superstitious sense therein, supposing God . . more peculiarly 
fixed in this county, wherein there were more and richer 
mitred abbeys than in any two shires of England besides." 
(W, I, 551). But Fuller himself writes later on of Norfolk, "This 
county has the most churches of any in England (six hundred 
and sixty)". W, II, 444. Oliver Cromwell's experience of 
richly mitred Gloucester was that the city had "more churches 
than godlines/' which may be a circumstantial evidence that 
he knew the proverb, and associated it with the large number 
of churches and chapels of the city. (Enc. Brit.) 
According to others, it refers to the relic of Christ's blood 
preserved at Hailes Abbey 2 miles north of Winchcomb. This 
is alluded to in BuUein, Bulhvarke of Def., 1562, "The blood 
of ducks keepeth a goodly coulour longtime, the idolaters did 
practice therewith, deceiving the people of Hailes with a blood 
which they called holy." (Lean, II, ii). 

As sure as Gods i'tk orcJmt. Lan. EDD. 

As sure as God made little apples on big trees. Dev. or west C}'., 
N. & O., II, IV, 377. Straight on, as sure as God mzidQ little 
apples. Hardj% FMC, 247. And as sure as God made little 
apples, I don't kno:w my elbow from my knee about a paddle. 
London, DS, 285. IMorthall, FPh., ii, Manchester, N, & Q., 
II, IV, 289. Norwich;, "some forty years ago", Bristol, N. & O., 
II, IV, 377. "This is a widely known saying — in North 



— 355 - 

Midland counties at any rate — and years ago, I often heard 
it in Derbyshire in this form, 'As sure as God made crab 
apples' N. & Q., ii, IV, 377. Cf. If it ain't the real thing, 
may God knock off my head with sour apples. London, 
MF, 90. 

As sure as God tnade rain. Lin. EDD. 

As sure as God sees me. Stevenson, TI, 55. 

A blackguard creditor will discover me and nab me as sure as 
Satan, if I open my mouth. Hardy, FMC, 404. 

If the sun sets as clear as a bell. It's an easterly wind as sure 
as hell. Hall, Fragm. of Voy.^ 1833 (Lean, II, ii). 

You'll bate mun, sure as Judgement, you'll bate mun. Kingsley, 
WH, 470. 

He can spaik seven langijis, yiz<: as death. Gordon, 1891, EDD, 
'As much fact as death.' Insts given only fr. Scotland and 
not earlier than 1889. 

Dead was it sure, as sure as death. Spenser, FQ, I, xi, 12. And 
sure as death I swore I would not part a bachelor from the 
priest. Shak., TA, I, 487. Jonson, EM, 45. Andromana, 
IV, viii, 1660 (Lean, II, ii). Goldsmith, VW, 383, GNM, 186. 
No testimony in his judgement was worthy unless it were 
clinched with an emphatic . . 'Ay, ay, sure as death.' Sc. 
EDD. 'As sure as death' was with us the final and awful 
test of truth. Mac Laren, YB, 50. As shair's daith. Bell, 
WM, 19, 58. Dmf, 1898, Ir., Cum., 1875, EDD. And so sure 
as death he won't let Jack marry me now. Phillpolts, WF, 
24, AP, 363. Ray; Northall, FPh., 11. Mentioned in NED, 
but no mst. given. 
That's as certain as that / shall die. Galsworthy, F, 73. 

You'll be pixy-led, sure as life^ and locked into a bog. Kingsley, 
WH, 140. 

Hark! — Sure z.?. fatej The clock's striking eig^t. Barham, IL, 
392, 494. Strand Mag., 245, '12. Back he's come sure as 
fate. Wells, MP, 225. Northall, FPh., 11,. 

My mind will be as sure as the bible. Hardy,. DR, 456. 

Siker as the Crede. Gower, 1393, Slang. Sicker, sure, now obs. 
except in Sc. and n. Cy dial. > 

The knave will be there as sure as is 37'our crede. GGN, IV, 
ii (Dodsley, I, 164). Bynde them to bf,iieve as surely as your 
crede. Songs, 80. He dies thereof af„ sure as creed (Frank 
Davidson's song, which he made 40 years/ago). Walton, CA, 158. 

As sure as simony. Blackmore, LD. Cf. Promotion which was 
wont to be y® free propounded palme, of paines, is by many 
men's lamentable practise, become a purchase. Nashe, I, 37. 
Simonie is now so common growne, Tlnat 'tis account no sinne. 
1 616, NED. Simony is very often (spoken of as something 
lamentably common. See e. g. Resii., 29; Songs, 82, 1546; 
Milton, Tenure, 51, and Burton, AM,7 I, 372. 



— 356 - 

As S7irc as ho7iour, I esteem it so much . . . Jonson, EM, 58. Does this 
mean 'word of honour', which sense is rec. 1658 — 1825, NED. 

Ez sartin ez f horn-bush. — "It was the custom for the parson to 
collect the tithe by placing a branch of thorn in every tenth 
stook, he choosing the stocks, and sending his cart for them." 
Blakeborough, NRY, 244. 

Stire as Denioivre. — The French-born mathematician Abraham D., 
who died in 1754 after some 60 years in England, the author 
of the Doctrine of Chances or the Method of Calculating the 
Probablities of Events at Play. It was Pope who said, 'Sure 
as Demoivre, without rule or line.' Brewer, Diet., 1192. Pro- 
bably never proverbial. 

As sure as Job Orton in his shop. — J. O. renowned for his close 
attention to business, was a grocer at Shrewsbury, died 1717. 
Jackson & Burne, 595. Better known is his son, a dissenting 
minister of the same name, by some considered "one of the 
most striking preachers ever heard." Diet, of Ahit. Biogr. 

Ez sartin ez fcess gctherer. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, in daily use. 

A dead lift, as sure as sexton. Flecknoe, Diar., xii, 1656 (Lean 
II, ii). In what way is the sexton surer than other things or 
people? A Swede remembering the Sw. sim. 'sa sdkert soin 
sex (as certain as six), is temped to ask: does it stand for 
sexton <C sexten <C sixteen, although it would not make so 
good alliteration as in Sw., if any at all, as sure may have 
developed its y-sound about this time. 

As certain as D. T. is the end of drinking. Pain, Gloimvorm Tales, 
I, 209.. Slang. 

As sure as' eggs in April. Baring-Gould, Exnioor (Lean, II, ii), 
'As sure as there are eggs in April.' 

But sure as eggs., whilst folks are sleeping, We both again 
should catV:h thee peeping. Bridges, 1772, Slang. Probably 
an ellipse of the preceeding or the following form. 
As sure z.seggs be eggs. B. E., Neic Diet, of Cant. Crew, 
1699 (Lean, i'l, ii). As sure as eggs is eggs the bridegroom 
and she had .a miff before morning. Goldsmith, GNM, 184. 
If you should ^ jump from off the pier, you'd surely break 
your legs,/ Per'haps your neck — then Bogey'd have you, 
sure as eggs a-'t'C eggs! Barham, IL, S39. And the Bishop 
says, "Sure as eggs is eggs, this here's the bold Turpin." 
Dickens, PP, iP, 269. Hughes, 1857, NED. Yorkshire 
Dial., 6. "That^s convulsions," said Sally. "They will go 
off in one of tPiej', sure as eggs is eggs and ain't inions." 
Baring-Gould, BS„ 31- — 'Professor de Morgan suggests 
that this is a ccrruption of the logician's formula x is x." 
Brewer, Diet., 40'8. It has also been said that the 'bad 
grammar' of the • sim. 'eggs is eggs' points to this origin. 
But surely this is > preposterous. Our sim. is distinctly collo- 
quial, originally alho a bit slangy, and is chiefly used by 



— 357 — 

vulgar and dial, speakers who never could have heard, and 
still less seen, "the logician's formula." As to the 'bad gram- 
mar', it is just the sort of English that is to be expected from 
those who use the phrase. Any other form would be "Dutch" 
(see p. 85). To be observed are the form of the verb in the 
earliest inst. and Barham's attempt at an improvement. See 
also the last inst. of the sim. 

As sure as beans she'll steal from you. Oxenham, MS, 1 12. See Mad, 
p. 94, and Like dea?is, Ch. V. 

As sure as the clothes on your back. Fuller (Lean, II, ii). 'The 
coat on one's back,' says Ray. Cf. As true as thy coat 
to thy back. Gascoigne. See p. 10. 

As sure as Burtons bank. Ir., H. See Safe, p. 352. 

As sure as an alderma^i's bond. Rowley, Witch of Edmont., I, ii, 
1658 (Lean, II, ii). 

As sure as Exchequer pay. This was a proverb in Queen Eliza- 
beth's time; the credit of the Exchequer beginning in, and 
determining with, her reign, saith Dr. Fuller. Ray. In Queen 
Elizabeth's days, when nothing on earth was surer than Chec- 
quer pay. Mead, 1628, NED. 

As sure as check. Green, 1591, H, Let the proverb As sure 
as check bayl me from the least suspicion of hyperboly. Os- 
born, 1659, NED. It was a merry world when Fidelity was 
master of this ship, Constancy his mate, and Plaindealing the 
boatswain, but those worthy mariners are dead, and an old 
proverb as sure as check with them. Taylor, NL. Ray. 

Sure as death and taxes are. P. Robin s Prognost., 1708 (Lean, II, ii). 

And that was as sure as touch. Racket, 1670, NED. 

As certain as gold. Draxe, 1633 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. 'good as 
gold', p. 5. 

As sure as twopence. Lean, II, ii. 

He 'ad won the field, as certain as a gun. Butl<Lr, H. Zo. 

But when he thought her as sure as a gun/ She set up her 
tail and away she run. Smith, 1655, NE,D. Ray. As sure 
as a gun, now, father Dominic has been /spawning this young 
slender antichrist. Dryden, 1681, NED. She's distracted, as 
sure as a gun. Steele, 1703, Slang. Gay, NS; As sure as 
a gun I have hit o' the very right ot. Fielding, 1749, Sterne, 1759, 
Slang; As sure as a gun then he is goiq.g to make a night of it. 
1809. Slang. I must have some fun./i And I will, too, that's 
flat — ay, as sure as a gun. Barham, 11,'^, 434. Hello! Where is 
that boy? Gone, as sure as a gun. i88j i, NED. We shall have 
him here next month as sure as ajgun. Hardy, TM, 123. 
Some more insts in Slang and NElD. Pegge, Derb., 135. 
Hewett, Dev.; Elworthy, WSG, 729. (Westmorel. and Cumberl. 
Dial. 256 (Lean). Cor. EDD. — Th^is is said to have arisen 
from the circumstance that guns wjere considered very sure 
or reliable in comparison with bowsj and arrows. Cf. You'll 



- 358 - 

centre and jam there as sure as shooting. White, BT, 303. 
A cor. of N. & Q., I, X, 264, thinks that it refers to the re- 
gular firing of guns at sunset and sunrise from castles and 
other fortified places. But like 'as sure as eggs' it may be 
some ellipse. As a matter of fact we have an expanded phrase, 
'Sure as a gun ivas iron he'd speak the word.' Ir. EDD. 
But as long as no more insts of the same kind are found, the 
question must be left unsettled. But see Right, p. 370. 
The prophecy fell out as siire as a club. Scot, Discovery of Witcher., 
1584 (Lean, II, ii). Falling into his hands, as sure as a 
club. Nashe, III. 73, 1596. He is his owne as sure as a club. 
Day, 1640, NED. Wesley, Maggots, 1685 (Lean, II, ii). — 
It is to be noticed that in the first two insts we have the verb 
fall. Does the sim. refer to the inevitable faUing of a club 
that is raised ? 
As sure as nails. Lan. EDD. See 'hard as nails' p. 260. 
As sure as I am a sinner to God. Day, He of Gvls, V (Lean, II, ii). 
I'll skimmer your pate as sure as you cry Amen. Cf. Sd s'dkert som 

amen i kyrkan. Also in G. 
You will be clapped into the Inquisition and burnt alive, as sure 
as your name is Jack. Kingsley, WH, 258. Sure's my name's 
Cod. Phillpotts, M, 278. You shall knock fireworks out of him, 
my boy, as sure as my name's Ned Skene. Shaw, CBP, 56, &c. 
As sure as your honor's standing there, I saw him. Barham, IL, 30. 
It happened just so, as sure as I am sitting in these very 
track5. Twain, TS, 147. I'm as sure as I sit here that . . . 
Gissing". TT, 88. Cf. Just as dead earnest as I'm sitting 
here. Twain, TS, 269. 

He'd kill us some time or other. Just as dead sure as we're 
lying here. Twain, TS, 83. 

As sure as / am here, Eugenia lives. May, H, III, i. 
As sure as yo'U are there. Swift, PC. Northall, I*Th., ii. 
As sure as you Jire alive. Swift, PC. As sure as I am alive. 
Northall, FPh.,' Ii. Till he's brort hoam limp and drowned, 
as a will be, i^ure as I'm alive. Dev. EDD. Do you know 
that within one day she will be sacrificed, as sure as you 
stand there alive.. Dickens, NN, Ii. 

As surely as you lare a living man, so surely did that spectral 
anatomy visit my fcoom. Barham, IL, 31. As shuir as I am 
leevin, that's a bit nice bairn. Slk., 1901, PIDD. 
I am as positive as that I breathe. Hardy, DR, 416. 
Now don't make joke pf The feeling I spoke of; For, as sure as 
yotire horjt, that sar «ie feeling . . . saves the life of the young 
Mousquetaire! Barhaim, IL, 246, ibid. 468. Northall, FPh., 11. 
They'll heng yon DJ^ck, as sewer as he's born. Not. EDD. — 
There are no doubt ; numerous other phrases of the same type 
as the different form«r of the last three sim., and the sim. given 
above are probably itiuch older than appears fr. the insts. 



— 359 -- 

As sure as there's a dog at Dover. P. 35, Lean. This P sometimes 
stands for Palsgrave, Acolastus. If that is so in this case, the 
sim. would date from the first half of the sixteenth c. As sure 
as there is a dog in Dover. Pegge's Kentic, 69. Cf. Leg over 
leg, as the dog went to Dover, When he came to the style 
jump he went over. Northall, FR, 414. — There are dogs 
'all over the place', but very few towns have do in common 
with dogs, and only disyllabic place-names would give so good 
alliteration and rhythm as Dover (Dorking, Dorset, Dorstone). 
It is worth noticing that in the form given by Lean we have 
perfect iambic rhythm. Perhaps it was the first line of a coup- 
let with the rhymes Dover: over (see the folk-rhyme quoted 
by Northall), which couplet now has lost the second hne. 

As sure as dogs isn't horses. Yks. EDD. 

As sta^e as there is a hip 071 a goat. N. & O., 8, IX, 234. 

She's running her natural course as sure as a fox runs before the 
wind. Baring-Gould, RS, 22. 

As sure as there's Sfiakes in Virgimiy. Slang. 

As siire as a louse in Pomfret. Ray. Then to Pomfret, as long 
since is/ Fatal to our English Princes; For the choicest liquor- 
ice crowned,/ And for sundry acts renowned; A louse in 
Pomfret is not surer/ Than the poor thro' sloth securer. Drun- 
ken Barnaby' s Journey, 171 5 (Bridge, CP, 22).^ How this 
Yorkshire place has come in for the ill fame of being particul- 
arly lousy, is beyond the ken of the compiler. Numerous 
towns and villages have been called 'lousy'. "Long, lazy, 
lousy Lewisham" has already been mentioned. And the fol- 
lowing verses are typical of a whole set of folk rhymes, Acton 
Beauchamp, the poorest place in the nation, A lousy parson, 
a nitty clerk, and a shabby congregation. Havergal, Here- 
fordshire Words and Phrases, 1887 (Lean). 

In H. our sim. appears in the following form. As sure as a 
house in P. Now, this house must either be a misprint or an 
intended correction. That louse is the correct reading, appears 
from the circumstance that in Ray our sim. is placed imme- 
diately after 'as sure as a louse in bosom, and the genuine 
character of the sim. is made clear by the quotation of 17 15. 
But where did Hazlitt get his house from.? It is another of 
his quotations from Bohn's Complete Alphabet. After 'as sure 
as a louse in one's bosom' he prints, 'as sure as a house in 
Pomfret, 191'. At p. 192 (191 must be a misprint) of his Hand- 
book it is given in the above form. Hazlitt says of Ray that 
he copied s.ll the childish errors of his predecessors, as has 
already been said, p. 150, but Hazlitt himself has done the 

') Cf. The S\v. Sil sant som det finns loppor i Trosa (as true as there 
are fleas at Trosa). In a humorous song much in vogue in the north of Sweden 
about 1890. Trosa, one of the smallest country towns in Sweden, called "the end 
of the world," and as such the butt of a good deal of joke. 



— 36o — 

same thing over and over again. Hazlitt tells us that he had 
spared no pains to make his work satisfactory and complete. 
Who is responsible for the numerous misprints that disfigure 
the Greek quotations.'' Once or twice he has ventured to 
quote Swedish, and the result is 'splitterstwy'! (read: splitternj). 
These are unimportant details, but a literary veteran who 
thinks fit to poke fun at his predecessors and to sneer at 
contemporary critics and helpers, nmst expect no mercy. 

As sure as a louse in bosom. Chs. Ray. Let us hope that this 
does not characterize modern Cheshire. 

If once we get our heads under water we'll all get drowned . . . 
as sure as crabs aint gardeji apples. Baring-Gould, BS, 197. 
Cf. She's as like this, as a crab's like an apple. Shak., KL, 

I, i, 15. See Dissimilarity, p. 332. 

Dumain is mine, as sure as bark o?z tree. Shak., LLL, V, ii, 285, 

Cf. the proverbial expression 'to go between the bark and 

the tree'. See p. 325. 
As sure as a rock. Davies, 161 1 (Lean, II, ii). Cf. steady, firm 

as a rock, p. 62. 
I shall die, sure as miid. Phillpotts, 1899, NED. School slang. 

See Clear, p. 362. 
As sure as March in Lent. Codrington, Proverbs, 1672 (Lean, II, ii). 
Our destiny is sure as the daylight. Phillpotts, AP, 221. Cf. And 

more would be made; that was as certain as that darkness 

follows light. Doyle, R, 129. 
You swear like a comfit-maker's wife! ... As God shall mend me; 

and As sure as day. Shak,, KH, IV, III, i. 
As sure as the sun. Hardy, UGT. I know it as surely as there 

is a sun in the heavens. Wells, LL, 243. Cf. Clear, p. 363. 

The following sim. are ironically meant: 
As sure as if it had been sealed zvith butter. Ileywood (Lean, II, ii). 
As sure as an obligation sealed in butter. Baret, 1580 (Lean, 

II, ii). 

As sure as a juggler s box. Ray. Cf. With logical conclusions 
these would play As jugglers play with boxes or a ring, 
Davies, Civil Wars &c., 1609, Lean. Or does it mean that 
jugglers play with their boxes, rings, and balls so adroitly 
that they never fumble, and can be taken as types of what 
is particularly sure.? 

And so such thinges . . To thee be as sure as water iji a sieue. 
Berkley, 15 15, NED. See p. 22, and cf.. That's no better, 
than taking up water in a sieve, which runs out as fast as 
it is put in. Horneck, 1686, NED. See p. 338. 

As sure as a mouse tied to a thread. Hey wood, H. 

As sure to hold as an eel by the tail. Lean, II, ii. See p. 22. 



^6 1 — 



Clear, Pure. 

Notf.. For some related sim. see Bright &c., p. 222 ff. 

It's a capital fresh drink, Missis, as clier as sack, and sharp enough 
to cut one's throat. Shr. EDD. 

I never dreamed of such a thing, and yet it does seem clear as 
print. London, IH, 115. See Easy, p. 347. 

As clear as copperplate. — Spoken of a very legible hand, and 
a figure borrowed from the old copybooks, where the different 
characters in use are engraved on copperplate. H. Cf. The 
Th was there as legible as copperplate. Mitford, 1826, NED. 
It is all here in neat copperplate. Vachell, SB, 25. Copper- 
plate, meaning engraving on c, rec. fr. 18 17. Otherwise the 
word is known fr. 1663. 

Whan he rood, men mighte his brydel here Ginglen in a whistling 
wind as clere And eek as loude as dooth the chapelbelle. 
Chaucer, Prol. CT, 170. Real fresh genuine portwine. . clear 
as a bell, and no sediment. Dickens, 1838, NED. His voice 
is as clear as a bell or a musical glass — very like a musical 
glass indeed. Dickens, NN, xxxvii. He complained that the 
beer was thick and flat, whereas it sparkled like champagne, 
and was as clear as a bell. Besant, AS, 115. Ray. Chs Gl. 

As clear as a lohistle. Byrom, Epist. to Lloyd, 1773 (Lean, II, ii). 

As clear as a pikestaff. H. See Plain, p. 365 f. 

It's a straange nist bairn ; its skin's that clear it's like alabaster. 
Wright, RS, 84. This may hint to the existence of a sim. 
'as clear as alabaster'. See White, p. 232. 

Clere as berel or cristal. Chaucer, W. Water clere as berel or 
cristal. Lydgate, CBK, 6. NED has exactly the same phrase 
fr. another source of c. 1450. Any fresche reueir as cleir as 
berial. 1549, NED. Beryl in this case probably meant crystal 
or fine glass. 

Step in, Nicholas; looke, is the coaste cleare? — Oh, as cleare 
as a cattes eye. Puritan, IV, ii. — Cat's eye, a precious stone, 
when cut en cabochon displays, on being held to the light, a 
peculiar Seating lustre, resembling the contracted pupil of a 
cat's eye. The word rec. in NED fr. the end of the sixteenth c. 

As clear as a carbiinkle. Skelton, Magnyf. (Lean, II, ii). 

Fresh springing wells, as christall neat. Spencer, NED. 

The water in the {o\xx\\.K\n pellucid z.s crystal, Stowe, UTC, 193. 
Water clere as cristale. c. 1300, NED. Clerire Jaan cristal. 
1450, NED. Now cryst our comely creature, clerer than crystal 
clene. WCh, 330. Fulwell, Like &c., 1568 (Lean, II, ii). Wher 
shud I find, that I seeke, A person clere as a Christal. G. 
Harvey, 4 Letter, I, 211, 1592. Voyces as cleare as Christall. 
Nashe, III, 239, 1593. The streame, as clere as christall 
glas. Spenser, FQ, I, vii, 6. Used of water ibid. Visions 



3(^2 — 

of Bella)', xii. His face more cleare than Christall glasse. 
Spencer, Shep. Cal., July, 1,158. The sim. is very frequent 
in Spenser. The ancles of Hebe clearer than Crystal. Burton, 
AM, III, 180. Taylor, PP, 35 (of water). Clear as fair Crystal 
to the view. Cowley, 1647, NED. Insts from Dickens, 
Ainsworth, Twain, VVarren in W. DNL, 5/1 1, '12. That 
wire, the wording of which couched almost in cipher, was, 
nevertheless, as clear as crystal to the man's ej'^e. CasseVs 
Mag. of Fid., 126, '14. See Bright, p. 224. 

That soul, "as clear as diamond, and as hard," as he said to him- 
self. Kingsley, WH, 434. 

Its varnish, smooth and transparent as the finest glass. "O", 
MV, 198. 

As clear as glass. Davies of Heref., Select Sec. Hush., 16 16 
(Lean, II, ii). 

The harbour-bay was clear as glass. Coleridge, 1798, NED. 
There was nothing to be concealed between these two souls 
as clear as glass. Kingsley, WH 48. 

As clear as any pearl. Jacob and Esau, 1568, (H., Old Plays, ii, 
232; Lean, II, ii). Taverner, Proverbs, 1534 (Lean, II, ii). 
As pure as a pearl. Tennyson, Henry James, W. 

Phrases that sounded clear as silver, that were luminous as starry 
spaces. London, ME, 280. Cf. As clear and clean as silver. 
Russel, 18S0, W. 

The line of duty lay clear before her as a ivhite road in summer 
heat. Baring-Gould, RS, 176. See Plain, p. 366 f. 

Proofs as clear as fonts in July when We see each grain of gravel. 
Shak., KH VIII, I, i, 154. 

As clear as spri?tg-watter, Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. 
He's as clear as water yet. Hardy, UGT. 

You see/ This bond of yours gives you here no jot of blood! — 
The words are "A pound of flesh", — that's clear as mud. 
Barham, IL, 277. Well, I get her to set down and go over 
it ever so slow, and explain it all as clear as mud, and then 
she says, — Now, do you see, Sam, ain't \i horrid pretty.^ 
Haliburton, 1840, Slang. 'It was clear as mud', to use Mul- 
vaney's expression. N. & Q., 9, VIII, 207. (Mulvaney, Charles 
P., minor poet and journalist, dead in 1885). I'll explain the whole 
thing to you as clear as mud in half a second. Allen, 1890, Milli- 
ken, 1892, Slang. "Said in mock commendation of something 
that is by no means clear (also used as a burlesque intensive 
of 'clear')." NED. There are numerous sim. of the same kind in 
German : Das ist klar tvie WurstbriiJie (also in Sw. klart som 
korvspad, of something that is self evident). Butter-milch, Drank, 
(distiller's wash,) kaffeegrimd (coffee-grounds; also in D. & Sw.) 
Schuhewiche (boot-blacking), Tinte (ink) &c. (Wander), some 
of which may be double-barrelled like 'clear as mud'. 

'Tis clear as air That your ambitious hopes . . . gave connivances 



i 



— o'^.^ — 

to it. MassingCM-, 1627, NED. In some [lakes] the water's 
bad, ... in others again it's d.'s, pure as air. Benecke, PA, 150. 
The thing is as clear as the noonday. Stevenson, TI, 27. It is 
as clear as noonday. N. Age, X, 3. 
« As clear as day. Wager, Rep. of Mary Magd., 1566 (Lean, 
II, ii). Now he denies a deed as clear as day. Day, BBB, 
Arniin, Nest &c., 1608 (Lean, II, ii). Don't you worry about 
the Waddy — that's as clear as day. Wells, Kipps, no. 
Their light made the enclosure and the manor-house as clear 
as day. Doyle, R, 356. Common in all languages. 
Thes are thyngys as clere to al men as the lyght of the day. 
Starkey, 130. 

His lectures on botany were as clear as daylight. Darwin, 
1862, NED. I've got witnesses — 'tis as clear as daylight. 
Phillpotts, WF, 24. Doyle, SF, 21. Th' Testament says as 
clear as daayleet. Wright, RS, 1 14. As clear as broad day- 
light. Overheard in Oxford. Used of a picture. In Sw., G., 
and Dutch. 
Thys ys as evident as the schynyng of the sone. Starkey. He'll 
read it all as clear as sunshine. Phillpotts, WF, 337. Thys 
ys as clere as the lyght of the sone. Starkey. 
That he was not a thief was as clear as the sim at noonday. 

Trollope, 1867, NED. Ray. As clear as the sun at noontide. H. 

As clear as the summer s sun. Shak., KH V, I, ii, 86. 

A court as cleer as Jdc sonne. Langland, 1398, NED. Fair 

as the moon, clear as the sun. Song Sol, 6, 10. Cleerer 

than is the sun that shines so brightly. Morley, 1595, Lied., Ii. 

This is as clear as the sun, and needs no further illustration. 

Burton, AM, I, 399. Barham, IL, 241, 502, &c. Common 

in all languages. 
Ne she was derk ne broun, but bright, And cleer as [is] the mone- 

light. Chaucer, 1366, NED. The spectacle of life in death 

eternal came close and clear as moon-light. Phillpotts, SW, 
My thoughts are clearer than unclouded stars. Dryden, Oedipus, 

VI, 169. Cf. You, the murderer, look as bright, as clear As 

yonder Venus. Shak., MND, III, ii, 61. 

Her face . . . Cleare as the skye, withouten blame or blot, 

Spenser, FQ, II, iii, 22. His brow grew as clear as the blue 

sky above him. Lytton, 1853, NED. 

His eye is as clear as the heavens. Emerson, 1844, NED. 

I saw more clear than the blue heaven that they thought it 

best that I should die, Galsworthy, P, 68. 
As clear as light. Middleton, Triumphs &c., 1619 (Lean, II, ii). 

Wolverstan made it as clear as light. Phillpotts, P, 26, WF, 426. 
I saw it all in my fever — clear as that flame . . . Galsworthy, 

P. 68. 



— 364 



Plain. 

What misterie lyes in this? — Nay, no misterie, tis as plaine as 
Cupids forehead. Dekker, OF, 100. 

Those things that one would think were as plain (as we say) as 
the nose on a mans face. Borrough on Hosea, p. 25, 1652. More, 
1655, NED. As plain as noses upon faces. Butler, H, II, 183. 
'As witness my hand' — in great letters. Why, 'tis as plain 
as the nose on one's face. Congreve, 1695, NED. The gentle- 
man has made it as plain as the nose in one's face, if one 
did but understand him. Graves, 1773, NED. It is as plain 
as the nose on your face for to see it. Clare, 1821, NED. 
Hardy, PBE, 17. London, DS, 215, SST, 198; Wells, WA, 
170. "Can't 5'ou understand.? Why, it's as plain as the nose on 
your face." "Is it.?" retorted Polly . . .: "If I got a plain nose, 
why didn't you tell me so before.?" Gissing, TT, 119. The 
sim. must have existed a good deal earlier, as appears fr. the 
following passage, O jest, unseen, inscrutable, invisible. As a 
nose on a man's face, or a weathercock on a steeple. Shak., 
TGV, II, i, 142. 

As by a world of hints appears All plain, and e.xtant, as your 
ears. Butler, H, II, 142. 

The thing was as plain as the loof of my hand. Edb., 1828, EDD. 
Loof, palm, chiefly Sc. Ir., and n. Cy. Though the case were 
as plain my loof. Gait, 1830, NED. 

I'll make your conduct plain to you ^.s \\\e palm of your hand. 
Mason, PK, 28. 'Plain pawm of hand' already in 1475, NED. 

It's as plaiii as the fingers of me hand. Doyle, Firm, 66. 

You griffs make the discoveries and haven't got the gumption to 
see them. My good Lord! It is as plain as measles. Masefield, 
Multitude, 280. 

It's as plain as parridge that he was both a Roman and a Socinian. 
Sc, 1836, EDD. Very plain or explicit. Plain, simple, 
of food, rec. fr. 1655. The sense-development is the same as 
in 'clean as a penny, a carrot'. 

The cow ran yeild, and it was as plain as pease that she was with 
calf. Moir, 1928, EDD. Sc. 

It seems to me as plains the letter S. Lnk, Murdoch, 1873. Cf. 
As crooked as S. Bridge, CP, 12. See p. 82. 

As plain as ABC. — The only natural explanation is that 'plain' 
here stands for 'simple'. It has been suggested that it owes 
its origin to the hornbook, N. & O., 9, X, 56. In this case 
'plain' would mean 'level, smooth'. See p. 269. But c^. So 
for weak learners other works there be/ As [)lain and easy 
as are A. B. C. Taylor, Praise of Needle, 1640 (Lean, II, ii). 

Her "eye's speechless messages", plainer than print. Barham, IL, 
270. Dickens, Master Humphrey s CI., Bleak H. (W). I seen 



— 3^5 — 

old Flint in the corner there, behind you; as plain as print. 
Stevenson, TI, 17. The poodle dog . . . lifts a forefoot . . . 
and looking after the old man . . . says plain as print . . . 
Mason, PK, 74. A look which said as as plain as print, 'Have 
you not had enough?' Crocket, 1895, NED. Kipling (W). 
DNL, 1/3, '13. Cf. Heaven guide thy hand to print thy sorrovi'S 
plain. Shak., TA, IV, v, 75. See 'as neat as print' p. 219. 

The glance said p/m'n as writing . . . Mason, PK, 114. A shrug 
of the shoulders, which said "Zany" as plain as writing, ih'd. 59. 

As />/ain as that two and ttvo make four. Lean, II, ii. Cf. The 
notion is as clear as that two and two makes four. Collier, 
1697, NED. Cf. When will you acknowledge that two and 
two make four, and call a pikestaff a pikestaff. Thackeray, 
1848, NED. There must be numerous phrases referring to the 
same idea in English, as well as in other languages. 

Plain as a pipe-stem. (Peoples', 17 cent. on). Utterly plain. — 
Nothing could be plainer than the stem of the white clay pipe 
from the cutty of the time of Charles II., to the long church- 
warden — tempo George III. Ware. 

I'll make it as plain as Peter Pasleys pike-staff. Scott, RR, xxvi. 
As plain as a pikestaff without giiilding. Cotton, Virgil Trav., 
1664, N. & O. 8, X, 141. 

Playne as a pyke staff. Schacklock, Hatchet of Her., 1565, 
N. & Q., 2, V, 411. A new game . . . that hath no policie 
nor knaverie, but plaine as pikestaffe. Greene, I59i> NED. 
I understand thee not. Be plain, my son. — As a pikestaff, 
mother. Dekker, Witch of Edm., 1622, N. & Q., 8, XI, 33. 
In Scotland . . . religion is . . . pure and spotless without cere- 
monie, and plain as a pikestaffe without a surplice. Weever, 
163 1, NED. You make a doubt where all is as plain as a 
pikestaff. Bernard, 1641, Slang. I see, as plain as pikestaff, 
that 'tis no thing but a cork. Villiers, 1685. When a Reason's 
as plain as a Pikestaff. D'Urfey, 17 19, To me it is as plain 
as a pikestaff. Tatler, 75, NED. Continual intercourse gave 
me opportunity of prying into the duke's inmost soul, ... a 
masked battery to all mankind beside, but plain as pikestaff 
to me. SmoUet, 1749, Slang. You've got my meaning as plain 
as a pikestaff. Hood, 1834, NED. The evidence against him 
was as plain as a pikestaff. Trollope, 1867, NED. The thing's 
as plain as a pikestaff. Besant, RMM, 18. There was my 
own spoor as plain as pikestaff. 1894, NED. Hope, PZ, 93. 
It reads as plain as pikestaff. MacLaren, YB. Consequently, 
as is plain as a pikestaff, we cannot possibly take you into 
the ship. Baring-Gould, BS, 285. That June would have 
trouble with the fellow, was as plain as a pikestaff. Galsworthy, 
MP, 27. Ray; Hewett, Dev. 11. Yks. EDD. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 240. Rather many modern insts of this sim. have been 
given, as a cor. of N. & Q. 8, IX, 140, maintained that it is 



— ^66 — 

"falling into desuetude". — Pikestajf, a long staff with a sharp 
•pike' in it, rec. fr. 1356, is now, apart from the sini., in use 
in Sc. only. According to NED our sim. is "an alteration" 
of the earlier phrase as plain as a packstaff. See below. 
He is no dissembler, his heart and tongue goeth together, He 
is as plain as a packstaff. Becon, 1542, Slang. For I intend 
to speak of wounds which to all men be as plain as packstaff. 
I say that wounds be manifest to all men. BuUein, Buhv. of 
Def., 1562 (Lean, II, ii). Further insts of 15S0, 1599, 1608, 
1639 in Lean. To make all as plain as a packstaff. Bradford, 
1657, Slang. As plain as any packstaff. Dryden, Amphytryon, 
VIII, 55. Jackson & Burne, 595. Chs. Lei. EDD. Our every 
day sim. So plain's a packstave, which literature has corrupted 
into 'plain as a pikestaff'. Elworthy, WSG, 552. Not, riddle 
like, obscuring their intent: But, packe-staffe plaine, uttring 
what thing they ment. Hall, 1597, NED. — It is hard to see 
where the corruption or alteration (NED) set in, as both sim. 
are very nearly twins in the language. The difference of the 
earliest dates is simply some twenty years. 'As plain as a 
pikestaff is practically as old as the other form of the sim. 
But it is worth noticing that 'as . . . packstaff' is not rec. in 
Ra)% and is not found in lit. since Dryden. 

An honest true dealing seruant out of double, plaine as a packsaddle. 
Wilson, 1533, NED. Packsaddle rec. fr. 1388, NED. Plain 
perhaps originally-smooth. 

As plaan as a yatstoup. — It denotes plainness of appearance and 
a thing not difficult to understand. A pikestaff was just a 
bare pole, and a gate-post is usually lacking of all ornamenta- 
tion; and both are fairly conspicuous objects. Blakeborough, 
NRY, 243. 

It was as plain as the town-pump that &c. Hardy, MC, 218. The 
sim. mentioned in NED but no inst. given. What is said of 
the gate-post above applies also to the town-pump. 

'Tis father's voot and daughter's voot to me, as plain as houses. 
Hardy, UGT, 24 See Safe, p. 352. 

We see many times, might overcometh right — Were not you as 
good then to say the crow is white? And so, rather let fair 
words make fools fain, Than be plain without pleats, and plant 
your own pain. F'or were you as plain as Dunstable highway, 
Yet should ye that way rather break a love day Than make 
one thus. Heywood, PE, 69. Indeed for the devise, I grant 
it as plain as Dunstable highway. Hartington, 1596, NED. 
The following is also practically an instance of the sim.. Here 
up the Alps (not so plain as to Dunstable) Hee's carried like 
a cripple. Jonson, 161 1, NED. Your reader's tongue at euery 
leafe doth tyre: Then for a bayte of fresher breath doth stay. 
Each lyne he thinks a lane, and doth desire,/ It were as 
plaine as Dunstable highway; When I dare speak it at the 



— 3^7 - 

best man's table/ You deale as plaine as any Dunse is able." 
North Breton, ed. Grosart, i, xxvi. N. & Q., 6, VI, 377. 

Quoting this sim. in the form 'as plain as Dunstable road' 
Fuller says. It is applied to things plain and simple, without 
either welt or guard to adorn them, as also to matters easy and 
obvious to be found without any difficulty or direction. Such 
this road; being broad and beaten, as the confluence of many 
leading to London from the north and north-west parts of 
this land. W. I, 167. And Ray adds, I conceive, beside this, 
there is an allusion to the first syllable of this name Dunstable; 
for there are other roads in England as broad, plain, and well 
beaten as this." 

Cf. the following passages: Whilst pathes vntraced former 
steps vntroad, become as Dunstable more worne, more broad. 
1614, NED. 'Tis of the making of Dunstable way. Plain 
without turning. D'Urfey, 17 19, NED. I would advice him 
to return again as fast as he can into the old Dunstable Road 
of Moses and the future state for ever. Warberton, 1744. NED. 
Howbeit there be some good walkers among them, that walked 
in the kynges hyghe waye ordinarilye, vprightlye, playne 
Dunstable waye. Latimer, Sermons, 1549, ed. Arber p. 56. 
Men who used old and ancient simplicitie, and were (as man 
would say) plaine Dunstable. 1607, NED. Their Fore-fathers 
lov'd plain downright Dunstable. Bracken, 1787, NED. "Plain 
(downright) Dunstable" is used in this way of a person whose 
manners and words are so simple and straightforward that any 
dunce might understand him. — By misquotation from Heywood 
this sim. has crept into some collections in the form 'as plain 
as Dunstable by-way'. 

Dunstable stands on an old Roman road, which may well 
have been plain, i, e. smooth, flat, well-beaten, at a time when 
other highways from a modern point of view were nothing 
but shapeless tracks. But as Ray said, there are other roads 
'as well beaten as this'. There must be in the sim. an allusion 
to what he calls the first syllable of this name. In this respect 
the passage quoted in N. & Q., 6, VI, 377 is very interesting, as 
it gives, intentionally as it seems, the two parts of this word, as 
it was folk-etymologically divided: duns (dunce) and table. As 
yet no such sim. as 'plain, smooth, flat, level as a table' have 
been found, but the Chaucerian 'as plain as a board' (Lean, II, ii) 
seems to give a hint to the existence of a .sim. 'as plain as 
a table', which may have helped to create our sim. Cf. the 
following sim. 

To make the point as plaine as the King's highway. Hering, 
1604, NED. 

The why is plain as tvay to parisJi church. Shak., AYL, II, vii, 52. 

"Your chumage ticket", replied Mr. Roker; "you're up to that?" 
"Not quite," replied Mr. Pickwick . . . "Why," said Mr. Roker," 



— ^6'i — 

it's as plain as Salisbury." A pun on Salisbury Plain, where 
Plain is given the same sense as in packstaff-plain. It does 
not seem to be a modernism, for already in Udall, 1542, NED, 
we read 'Thom trouthe, or plain Sarisbury'. 

It was as plain as blessed daylight. Gissing, FC, 6. 

It was as plain as daylight that . . . ibid., 60. Caine, PX, 104, 
A case as plain, as clear as day. May, H, IV, i. [The situa- 
tion] was as plain as day. Stevenson, TI, 53. 

My Minor is as plain as the Sun at Noonday. Brown, 1700, NED. 
It was plain as the sun at midday. Froude, 1879, NED, 
There's nothing like plain speaking ... so we'll be as plain 
as the sun. Phillpotts, WF, 210. 

This affair of the waterpower had been a tangled business somehow, 
for all it seemed . . . zs plain as water's water. Eliot, MP\ 11. 



Right, Sound. 

Fear nothing. All's well and as right as my leg. Wilson, 1662, 
Slang. Lean quotes this fr. Shirley, The Ball, i, x, 1639, 
and Wilson, Cheats, II, iv, 1671. She's as right as my leg. 
Said of a whore. Ray. Jolly Ralph was in with Peg, Though 
freckled like a Turkey Egg, And she as right as is my leg, Shee 
gave him leave to towze her. D'Urfey, 17 19, Slang. Does 
this refer to persons or things that are "right", only when they 
go wrong in some way or other? Or could it be used both ways 
like 'clear as mud'.-' See Crooked, p. 277. 

As right as pie. Yks. Stf. War. Glo., EDD, Northall, FPh, 10. 
See Good, p. 5. 

Right, Caxon, right as my glove — by-the-bye, I fancy that phrase 
comes from the custom of pledging a glove as the signal of 
irrefragable faith. Scott, A, 275. — In spite of Sir Walter's 
authority, one is far more tempted to a.ssociate it with the 
sim. *to fit like a glove', p. 319. 

As right as a ribben. Northall, WW, 276. Does this originally 
mean 'straight'.? 

Well, let her say 'no' as if she meant it, said L.; women can, if 
they like, eh? and then it will be as right as ninepence. Smedley, 
1850, Slang. I thought I was as right as ninepence. Boldre- 
wood, 1890, NED. Then find the cheeld right as ninepence. 
Cor. EDD. Northall, FPh., 10. See p. 152. "Implies a sense 
of comfort rather than security." J. H. Holden MacMichael, 
N. & Q. 

As right as tzvopcncc. Lean, II, ii. 

Nay, now I guess right as a die. Davies, Sc. of FoL. 116, 16 14 
(Lean, II, ii). See p. 273. 



— 369 — 

You're about as right side up as a billiard ball . . . whatever you 
do. Wells, Kipps, no. 

Which is his methods right as 2, fiddle. Nashe, III, 113, 1596. Cf. 
Rimes . . . that go as iurnpe as a Fiddle with euery ballet- 
makers note. ibid. I, 265, 1592. See p. 152. 

Sound as a bell. Chapman, All Fools, III, i, 1605. -A- man of 
holy zeal, sound as a bell, In all things perfect as the word 
itsel'. Sc, 1869, EDD. He came from Scotland sound as a 
bell on the five points of Calvinism. 1874, NED. He's a little 
dogmatic, perhaps, but clear and sound as a bell. Harrison, 
A, 139. She's as sound as a bell for me, that I'll swear. 
Hardy, LLI, 235 (undefiled). Used of anything that is per- 
fectly sound, in perfect condition, without flaw or defect; 
orthodox in doctrine. The last sense of sotmd rec. fr. 1575. 
For other insts of the sim. see p. 152. 

'I am right', thought Bunce, 'as any trivet.' Hood, 1835, NED. 
"Order a private room, and do not mention my name. You 
understand?" — "Right as a trivet, sir," replied Mr. Weller. 
Dickens, PP, I, 223. Go home! You'll find there all as right 
as a trivet. Barham, IL, 467, see also ibid. 287. As to the 
letter you're as right as a trivet. Dickens, 1865, Slang. 
She'll be right as a trivet, doctor, and you'll be right too. 
Caine, EC, 70. [said of a girl who was to be fixed up with 
a baker]. [Trivet] is the superlative absolute of right, when 
applied to fitness of construction. A machine repaired would 
be said to go so right's a trivet. Elworthy, WSG, TT^. 
Blakeborough, NRY, 241, in daily use. — For some other 
insts see p. 153. The sim. has not been found earlier than 
1835, but as it appears both in the Pickwick Papers (twice) 
and in the Ingoldsby Legends, it must have been widely 
current already then, and have arisen a good deal before that 
time. Of his own use of sim. Barham says, "I don't call 
these similes new ones, But in metaphors, freely confess I 
am leaning/ To such, new or old, as convey best one's meaning. 
IL, 248. 

Many explanations have been given. It is supposed to 
refer to the veteran campaigner Sir Thomas Trivet who 
escaped when a great part of the English fleet suffered shipwreck. 
N. & Q., 10, XII, 435. Ware says, "A famous etymologist 
has assumed 'Right as a trivet' to refer to a kitchen stove, 
whereas the 'trivet' is the last century pronunciation of Truefit, 
the supreme Bondstreet wig-maker, whose wigs were perfect 
— hence the phrase." The secretary of this well-known firm 
informed the compiler that he had heard of this rendering of 
the sim., and he thought it possible, as the firm was founded 
before our earliest insts. But, as has already been said, we 
are justified in expecting earlier insts to crop up. The most 
current senses of trivet date fr. late ME or early MnE. 

24 



■- 370 — 

And further, what Ware says of 'last century pronunciation 
of Truefit' is, as far as the compiler can make out, wholly 
legendary, as no such pronunciation seems to be known to 
anybody anywhere. Trivet has also been regarded as a 
corruption of trevat, an instrument for cutting the pile threads 
of velvet. The allusion would be to the cutting edge which 
must be as perfect as human skill can make it. N. & Q., lo, 
XII, 376, It is most commonly regarded as an originally 
three-legged stand for a pot. Of this trivet Skeat says, "The 
rectitude of the trivet consists in its rectangularity. If that 
sort of trivet which is placed on the upper bar of a grate, 
is not accuratel}^ made, the kettle that stands upon it will 
not stand even, but most inconveniently slouch forward or 
backward. The trivet, to be a good one, must be right-angled, 
or made "right and true." N. & O., 3, XI, 361. This sort 
of trivet consisting of an iron frame with two feet resting on 
the front of the grate and a third on the back is probably 
not the origin of our sim., but rather the good old really 
three-legged one, which will invariably stand firm on its three 
legs. "There is a considerable amount of skill and accuracy 
required to insure [a four-legged] stool resting on all four legs 
at once. I remember hearing a carpenter, who had succeeded 
in doing this, make the observation, 'There it is as firm as 
a trivet.'" N. & O., 3, XI, 360. 

You are right, master, rigJit as a gun. Fletcher, 1622, NED. 
See Siire, p. 357. 

(Right as a wall, — This is a sim. quoted by Lean, II, ii, fr. 
Toivneley Myst. p. 64. The passage runs, "On ayther syde 
the see mon stand . . . right as a walle," which simply means, 
may the sea stand on both sides just like a wall. Another 
inst. of Lean's philology.) 

Lede us joederward, as rygJit as a lyne, Seynt Myghel! To {jat 
heuenly kyngdome. c. 1540, NED. Here ;'4''/f/' means straight, 
straightway, which sense it probably also has in the early 
MnE insts quoted by Lean. See Straight, p. 275. 

Stod y in my stirop strcyt . . . As ryt as raniis lioii. 1327, NED. 
Do ryght and doe no wronge. As ryght as a rammes hornc. 
Skelton, 1529, Slang, ibid, two further insts fr. Skelton. See 
Crooked, p. 27S. This must be one of the double-barrelled 
sim. like 'clear as mud' &c. 

'As soimd as an acorn is a local proverb applied to everything 
from a horse to a nut. w. VVor. Chs., EDD. Bridge, CP, 20 
(achern). Seaund as an achern. Lan., 1878, EDD. Right as 
an acorn. Waugh, 1865, Lan, Come aw think o's reet an' 
square. Reet as hatch-horn, Lan, 1865, EDD. — 'As sound as an 
acorn' refers to the same idea as 'sound as a nut'. 'As right &c. 
may refer to the same thing, or perhaps to the upright position 
of the acorns in their cups. See Prcnd, p. 85. 



— 371 — 

As right as rain., Insts in W fr. Tauchn. Mag. 22, 69, Herman 
and Mary Gholmondeley. See p. 156. — Does it refer to 
the right, or straight, descent of a heavy downpour of rain ? 



Consistent with Facts, True. 

Note. Many of the sim. given under the heading Honest, 
Faithful &c. p. 9 may probably also be used of statements 
that are in accordance with facts. Cf. also Stwe, p. 354. 

It is as true as the living God. Caine, D, xliv. 

As true as God is i?i heaven. Ray. Cf. the Chaucerian, And 
certainly, as soth as god is king. 

As true as God's word. Lean, II, ii. 

As true as the ould Book itself. Caine, D., xviii. 

As true as the Creed. Skelton, Magnyf., 220 (Lean, II, ii). 

These tidinges newe Whiche be as tretve As the Gospell. Skelton, 
1529, NED. Lean has several sixteenth c. insts, but without 
any context. Songs, no. It is strange, but as true as gospel, 
that at every new and full moon down we all go here with 
fever. Sir Charles Napier, Life &c., iii, 27. What the gentle- 
man said . . . was as true as gospel, Baring-Gould, BS, 271. 
But it's true — true as gospel, s'elp me! CasseVs Mag. of 
Fict., '14, 94, &c. Cf. What she says this night about her 
brother is Gospel-truth. Kingsley, 1862, Slang. Also G., Fr., 
and Sw. 

This is euen as true as e'er was text. Sharpham, F, III, 59. 

This principle is old, but true as fate. Dekker, HWh., la, xii. 

It's a delightful book, and all true and real . . . true as the Bank 
of England. See Safe, p. 352. 

It's as true as the multiplication table. Scott, RR, ii. Cf. Our 
conclusions . . . are as absolute as the truths of the multipli- 
cation table. Bowen, 1864, NED. Multiplication table rec. 
in NED fr. 1674. 

Nicholas, I think, your name is. — Nich. True as the skifi between 
your brozvs. Porter, TAW, 41. See p. 10. 

As trtie as clock. Tusser, Husb., p. 4, 1573. Does not this rather 
mean 'exact, punctual'.?' 

True as the dial to the sun. Butler, H, II, 104. H. ; Roget, s. v. 
Veracity. 

Ez true ez a die. Blakeborough, NRY, 240, in daily use. Cf. You'll 
know me truer than a die. Gay, NS, where it means faithful. 

Tis right; he has spoke as true as a ^/^w, believe it. Jonson, 1633, 
Slang. See Right, p. 370, Safe p. 352. 

Hodg. . . . hast hard gammer in deed, or dost but jest? Gave. 
Tis as true as steel. GGN, III, ii. He has almost undone 
us all, that is as true as steel, ibid. You have spoken as true 



— 372 — 

as Steele. — Father, theres a proverb well applied. Porter, 

TAW, 41. 
If thou lovest me too much It will not prove as true as 'touch. 

Love vie Little, &.C., 1570, Brewer, Diet., 1250. But this must 

mean 'reliable, lasting'. Sla7Jg has this sim. but without any 

inst. and renders it 'absolutely true', which may mean anything. 

It is probably not used of a true, i. e. correct, statement. 
As true as the 7ieedle to the pole. Roget, s. v. Veracity. For the 

more common application of the sim. see p. 10. 
As trtie as / am standing here. Lean, II, ii. As true as I stand 

here. Slang. 
As true as / live. Shak., KH IV, III, i, 250. Twain, TS, 147. 

As true as thou art alive. Palsgrave, AcoL, 1540 (Lean, II, 

ii), See Sure, p. 355. 

There must be numerous other sim. of the same type as the 

last two sim. 

Punctual. 

As punctual as Charley. Thornton. — Charley was a popular 
name of the night-watch prior to the introduction of the 
present police force. The origin of the term is by some 
traced to Charles I, who reorganised the watch system of the 
metropolis in 1640. But the term is not recognized before 
18 1 2. How did this character become known in America.^ 
Or is it something else? 

[The clock] is as true as the Squire's time. Hardy, UGT. 

Punctual as the counting-house dial, which he maintained to be the 
best time-keeper in London, . . . the clerk performed the mi- 
nutest actions of the day. Dickens, NN, xxxvii. 

He's as sharp to the hour as the haun d a clock. Ayr. EDD. 

He came as regular every evening as the tozvn clock. Kingsley, 
WH, 248. 

The king's last years passed as regularly as clockwork. Walpole, 1789. 
Hardy, UGT. "Q", MV, 232. Blakeborough, NRY, 239, &c. 
There is the boy with the basket, punctual as clockwork. 
Dickens, PP, 269. As regular as the clock ticks. Oxf. EDD. 
They will bring me in 150 a year as regular as the clock. 
Bennet, BA, 48. Hardy, HP:, 473, &c. 

In punctuality she was inevitable as a clock. Stowe, UTC, 188. 
Sheridan . . . assured him ... all his affairs were now pro- 
ceeding with the regularity of clockwork, N. & Q., June, 1851, 
502. Phrases referring to the regularity of clock and clock- 
works are rec. in NED. fr. the end of the seventeenth c. Cf. 
He payes and takes as dulie as the clock strikes. Nashc, II, 

94, 1593- 
As right as the mail. Northall, FPh., 10. True to time. 
I am always so punctual as the sjm. Phillpotts, SW, 



— 2>7?> — 

Not in Accordance with Facts, False. 

NoU\ See False &c. p. 20 ff. 

As tnie as the barbers news on Saturday night. Middleton, Roar. 
Girl, III, iii. (Lean, II, ii). See p. 129, where the barber- 
surgeon is spoken of. From Roman times the barber's shop 
has been the place to which the town-talk converged and 
from which it spread again. 

As true as a curranto. Lupton, Lojtdon and Country &c., 1632 
(Lean, II, ii). Curanto, or corante, newspaper; rec. fr. 1622. 

That is as true as that the cat crew and the cock rocked the cradle. 
Bohn. Lean has another form of this prov. probably fr. 
Kelly, Scot. Proverbs, 1721, As true as that Biglam's cat 
crew and the cock &c. 

As true as the sea burns. Warmstray, England's Wound &c., 
1628, H. ; Clarke (Lean II, ii). Cf. As like as [that] the sea 
burneth. Baret, Alvearie, 1580 (Lean, II, ii). 



Slow. 

As slow as yohn Walker s chimes. — There is an old rhyme to 
this effect: — 

Young John Walker's chimes 
They went so very slow 
That young John Walker scarce could tell 
Whether they went or no. N. & Q., 7, VIII, 368. The 
sim. is called a popular phrase. 

To run as fast as pudding can creep. Armin, 1608, H. Lean 
quotes the same passage, but substitutes sivift. Cf. It would 
vex a dog to see a pudding creep. Slang. 

"I have heard 'slow as molasses in January several times in the 
United States. Molasses, being viscous, flows slowly; more 
viscous when cold ; January usually cold. Hence the meaning." 
N. & Q., 12, III, -]•]. 

As slow as a horn-top. — Excessively slow. Yks. Durh. EDD. 

Go and hye the, zs, fast as a snayle. Hey wood, 1533, NED. 

A man may be as sloive as a snaile. Porter, TAW, 105. As 
slaw as a snail. Robinson, Dial, of Leeds, 1862, NED. Ez 
slow ez a snahl. Blakeborough, NRY. Cf. the Shak., The 
whining schoolboy with his satchel And shining morning face 
creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. AYL, II, vii, 145; 
and in OE, Me is snaegl swiftra. NED, c. 1000. We have 
also 'snail-slow' in Shak., MV, II, vi, 46; also in MnE, DNL, 
1900, NED, Phillpotts, 1901, Rnf, EDD. 



— 374 — 

Quick, Swift. 

The exotic had sprung up, suddejily as \.\\q propliefs gourd. Hardy, 
T, 489. See Jonah, 4, 6. This famous gourd is sometimes 
alluded to as the symbol of what is shortlived. See NED. 

Thither he flew as swift as ATercury. Nashe, III, 207. Cf We 
give the Winds Wings, and the Angels too, as being the 
Swift Messengers of God, the nimble Mercuries of Heaven. 
Sancroft, 1678, NED. 

As hasty as Hopkins, that came to jail over night, and was hanged 
the next morning. Ray. — There may be some tale to back 
this sim., but no one seems to know the telling of it. Cf. 
Apropriaic, Fit, Welco7iie, p. 318. Tliere is an Amer., originally 
Kentucky, expression, 'Don't hurr}^ Hopkins,' applied to a 
person slow to meet an obligation. The supposed origin of 
this saying is given in N. & Q., 2, V, 21 1. 

As quick as a lamplighter. Roget. Lamplighter rec. fr. 1750. Cf. 
T'lass bein new, off sho went like a lampleeter ta do az shoo war 
bid. w. Yks., 1861, EDD. I did the hurdles over two or three 
garden walls, but so did the flyer who v^^as on my tracks, and he 
drove me back into the straight and down to High Street like 
any lamplighter. Hornung, TN, 33. To run like a lamplighter. 
Lean, II, ii. 'Run like a 1.' in NED fr. 18 13. An allusion to the 
swiftness with which the lam]~)lighter ran on his rounds. 

Faster than thought or time. Shak., WT, IV, iv, 565. 

Haste me to knowe it, that with wings as swift as meditation 
or the thought of it, may sweep to my reuenge. Shak., Ham- 
let, I, v (quarto i). 

Fleeter ^z.x\ arrows, bullet, wind, thought. Shak., LLL, V, ii, 261. 
I'll haunt thee like a wicked conscience still. That mouldeth 
goblins sivift as frenzy's thoughts. Shak., TC, V, x, 28. 
Ase swift ase is nu monnes {)ouht, and ase is Jje sunne gleam. 
1225, NED. Wings more momentary swift than thought. Shak., 
TC, IV, ii, 13. Love . . . Courses as swift as thought. Shak., 
LLL, IV, iii, 326. I would as swift as thought flie this life. 
Sharpham, F, II, 520. Marston, Insat. Coufit., Ill, ii, 161 3 
(Lean, II, ii). 

As quick as whut, as thought. Cov. Myst , p. 298 (Lean, II, ii). 
For to appeare as quick as thought. VW, 40. Change and 
cogge as quick as thought. Nashe, I, 340, 1593. Wit Restored, 
1658 (Lean, II, ii), Thackeray, BL, vi. Stevenson, TI, 98; 
Hardy, DR, 127; Harrison, A, 148; Merriman, LH, 1 21, &c. 
— - It is rather noteworthy that no inst. of this sim. has been 
found fr. 1658 to I'hackeray. It is not in Ray, or Bohn or 
Hazlitt. In Sw. and probably in most other languages. 

The monster stvifte as ivord that from her went. Went forth in haste. 

Sudden as wi?tking, the ornery old cretur went all to smash. 
Twain, HF, 211. 



— 375 — 

You cry the same sense up and down again,/ Just like brass-money 
once a year in Spain: Take you in the mood, whate'er base 
metal come,/ You coin as fast as groats at Birmingham. Dry- 
den, SF, IV, 412. Although no intensifying sim. in the pro- 
per sense of the word, this deserves to be chronicled here, 
as the comparison seems to have been used proverbially. Cf. 
I coined heroes as fast as Brumingham groats. Tom I3rown, 
1688, NED. "Birmingham was the term of reproach with 
which Monmouth's assumed titles and his party in general 
were ridiculed. In a verse of 1682 mention is thus made of 
Shaftesbury's medal : — 

"The wretch thut stamped it got immortal fame; 
'Twas coined by stealth, like groats at Birmingham." 

See Dryden, Wks, IX, 210 f. Cf. Bromicham, particularly 
noted a few years ago for the counterfeit groats made here, and 
from hence dispersed all over the Kingdom. Miege, 169 1, 
NED. Hence a synonym of sham. 

Shrinke /<3;i-;",fr than Northern cloth. Nashe, I, 384, 1593. — What 
is said of the above comparison also applies here. The shrink- 
ing of the northern cloth is so often alluded to that it is well 
worth being registered here. Cf. Charing-crosse was old, and 
old things must shrinke as well as new Northern cloth. Dek- 
ker, Westward Ho (Deklo^r"s Wks, ed. Pearson, II, 294). 
Wits that were spent, and like northern cloth shrunk in the 
wetting. Taylor, NL, 23. Three great evils come out of 
the North; a cold Wind, a cunning knave, and a shrinking 
cloth. Bohn. This appears to be a very old saying. L<^an 
quotes from Jonson, Bartholomew Fair, IV, iii, Three ills 
come out of the north, a cold wind, a cunning knave, and a 
sleezy cloth. Sleezy, sleazy, not rec. before 1644, means either 
'rough from projecting fibers', or 'thin, flimsy'. An old Sw. 
proverb said, Stoor Lofwen och okrympt Kldde minskas altijd. 
(great promises and unshrunk cloth always fall short). "Out 
of the north All ill comes forth" was the opinion, not alto- 
gether unfounded upon experience, from the border war times, 
of Englishmen generally and Northerners especially. 

Your dayes are as sivyft as a post, yea, sivifter then a weauers 
shettle. Nashe, Copied from the Bible, Job, 7, 6. See below. 

A feller with an eye like hawk, and quick as a steeltrap for a trade. 
1830, Thornton. 

Than schal your soule up to heven skippe Swifter than doth an 
arive out of a boive. Chaucer, MaT. Some tye bones to their 
feete and under their heeles, and shoving themselves by a 
little picked staffe doe slide *as swiftly as a birde flyeth in the 
air, or an arrow from the cross bow. Stowe's Survey of London, 
1603. Swift as an arrow from the bow. Drayton, Nyniphidia, 
1627 (Lean, II, ii). Look how I go; Swifter than arrow from 



- 376 - 

a Tartar's bow. Shak., MND, III, ii, no. Cf. All as sudden 
As arrows from a Tartar's bow, and speeding. Beaumont & 
Fletcher, Hianourons Lieut., I, i, 1647. — Swift as an arrow 
from a bow he flew. Butler, H, III, 46. They can swim as 
swift as an arrow can be shot out of a bow. Walton, CA, 71. 
Like an arrow swift he flew Shot by an archer strong. Cow- 
per, 1782, NED. Cf. More swift than shot out of an archer's 
bow. Paradise of Dainty Dev., 1576 (Lean, II, ii). — No 
insts of the sim. in PE have been found, except in Roget, 
but allusions to the swiftness of an arrow are not unknown, 
e. g., Kipps with the speed of an arrow leaving the bow, 
would start hanging wrappers over the fixtures. Wells, Kipps, 
44. — The arrow has been used as the symbol of great speed in 
many languages from very ancient times. It is not unfrequently 
coupled with other words denoting great swiftness. See e. g. 
Shak., LLL, V, ii, 260. Cf. also, Ocior et jactdo, et ventos 
aequa7ite sagitta. Virg., Ae7i., x, 248. See Heise, GS, 146. 
The dinghy was travelling with us as fast as a canon-balL Con- 
rad, Romance, 248. Had she affections and warm youthful 
blood, She would be as swift in motion as a ball. Shak., 

RJ, II, V, 13. 

[Wenches'] conceits have wings Fleeter than arrows, bullets, 

wind, thought, swifter things. Shak., LLL, V, ii, 260. 

It flew as swift as a bullet towards his ribs. Doyle, AG, 187. 

But two months later failed the tag-end of the history, so 

sudden as a gun-shot. Phillpotts, 1901, Dev., EDD. Also in 

s. Lan., ibid. 

Throughout euery Regioun Went this foule trumpes soun As 

swift as pelet out of gonne. Chaucer, 1384, NED. 

I go away/ As swift as lead, sir. Shak., LLL, III, i, 52. 

(Is not lead a metal heavy, dull, and slow.f* — Is that lead 

slow which is fired from a gun? ibid., 54, 57). 

And make them skirr away, as swift as stones Enforced from 

the old Assyrian sHngs. Shak., KH V, IV, viii, 56. 

Your dayes are as swyft as ?i post, yea, swifter then a weuers shettle. 
Nashe, II, 90. The first part of this is taken fr. Job, 9, 25. 
Cf All these things are passed away like a shadow, and as 
a post that passeth by. Northbroke, DD, 183. 
My pen was as swift as the post-horse of the townc. Nashe, 
I, 100, 1589. Cf the adverbial use of post in connection 
with verbs of motion and in the seventeenth c. also with 
other verbs. 'Twere no good manners to speak hastily to a 
gentlewoman, to talk post (as they say) to his mistress. 
Shirley, 1632, Slang. And the adv. (sb. and adj.) posthaste, 
which according to NED has arisen fr. the old direction on 
letters 'Haste, post, haste!' 

In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but 
now tliey travel faster than a stage-coach. Goldsmith, SSC, 



— 377 — 

215. Cf. The horse of quick work, the stage-coach horse and 
the poster. 1838, NED. Modern conveyances, except the Amer- 
ican "greased lightning" (see p. 379), do not seem to have 
entered the domain of similes. 

He would cracke neckes zs/ast as a cooke cracks egg'cs. Nashe, II, 237. 

His wife would often try the density Of his poor skull, and strike 
with all her might, As fast as kitchen-wencJies strike a light. 
Barham, IL, 71. 

He can talk French ^s, fast as a maid can eat blackberries. Hardy, 
RN, 130. 

Wonne townes, Noure, as fast as thou canst make apples. Udall, 
RRD, 22. See Sure, p. 354. There are probably many other 
sim. of the same type as the last four. 

But hetherward she comes as fast as her legs can her carry. GGN, 
II, ii. As fast as her legs will carry her. Nashe, Unfortun- 
ate Trav, Swift, PC; Roget. The following inst. of this sim. 
is rather interesting: He ranne away no faster than his legges 
could carye him. Proctor, 1555, NED. Cf also. As fast as 
my hand can trot. I^ashe, I, 195. 
As fast as one's heels will carry one. Roget. 

And he's quick as a cat, and instantly obedient. London, MF, 
154, Charley was quick and alert as a cat. ibid., FP, 6'J . 
Turning as sivift as a cat. Conrad, Romance, 248. 

They affyrme them to bee swifter then greyhowndes. Eden, I555» 
NED. To ren as swiftly as the greyhound yonder go'th. 
Hey wood, PE, 118. Cf. Thy wit is as quick as the grey- 
hound's mouth, it catches. Shale, MA, V, ii. The swiftness 
of the greyhound is often alluded to. An inst. is the Dev. 
phrase, Her rinnth like a long-dog. Hewett, Dev., 13. 

As fast as a dog will lick a dish. Heywood, PE, 78. See Easy, 
p. 347 and False, p. 23. 

For he v^7)a' swift as any Biicke in chace. Spenser, FQ, VII, vii, 52, 
Their feet unshod, their bodies wr^pt in rags. And both as 
swift on foot as chased Stags. Spenser, FQ, II, xi, 23. Thy 
greyhounds are as swift As breathed stags. Shak., TS, Ind., 
ii, 44. 

But he,' more speedy from them fled, more fast Then any 
Deere. Spenser, P'Q, VII, vi, 52. They were fifteen warriors 
in all . . as swift-footed as deer. Doyle, R, 373. 
Except you run swifter than a Hart. Dekker, OF, 113. 
Flying fast as roebuck through the fen. Spenser, FQ, II, x, 7. 
Cf. Never went roe-bucks swifter on the downes. George a 
Greene, Dodsley, I, 202. 

As swift as the roe. Ch. Plays, i, 186, 1328 (Lean, II, ii). 
Men of armes, which . . were as swift as the Roes vpon y« 
mountaines. Coverdale, i535> NED. 

Thy greyhounds diXQ ... fleeter than the ro. Shak., TS, Ind., 
ii, 44. Their Coursers, than the Mountaine Roe More fleet. 



— 378 — 

Somerville, 1735, NED. Cf. I, my good Lord, being roefooted, 
outstript him in running. Ciiettle, 1631, NED. 

He ran upstairs as quick as a squirrel. Hardy, TM, 55. See p. 159. 

[Tlie Cossacks] were as swift as eagles and as elusive. M. Pembertoii, 
CasseVs Mag. of Fiction., 'j6, '14. Tlie powerful flif^ht of the 
eagle is proverbial, and is mentioned already in the Old Testa- 
ment, Swiftere then eglis his hors. Jer., 4,13, 1382, NED, 
His horses swifter than eagles. AVe. 

As swift as swallowes on the wav(.'s they went [of dolphins], 
Spenser, FQ, III, iv 33. For he was swifl as swallow in her 
flight. Spenser, FQ, V, i, 20. See also ibid., II, vi, 5 (of a 
ship). Now to the Goths as swift as swallow flies. Shak., TA, 
IV, iii, 173. Withals (Lean, II, ii). Cf. also. True hope is 
swift and flies with swallow's wings. Shak., KR III, V, iii, 23. 

Greyhoundes he hadde as sivifte as fcnvel in flight. Chaucer, Prol. 
CT, 190. The following sim. also refer to the swiftness of 
a bird: 

Kitty's heart beat qtiick as a fluttering bird. Castle, IB, 44, 
Fluttering her hand as quickly as a bird's wing. Hardy, RN, 500. 

Montigny leaped up, sivift as an adder. Stevenson, NAN, 294. 
The darting forth of the adder is frequently alluded to. 

He grew so perverse and so slippery in his conclusions, that he 
proued as quick as an eele in euery quirke. Nashe, I, 98. See 
False, p. 24, 

As sivift as a bee. Draxe, 1633 (Lean, II, ii). 

The water drops from you as fast as hops. Porter, TAW, 103, 
Ray. — We have already had 'as mad as hops', p. 93, and 
there is also 'as thick as hops', p. 395. To what has been 
said of the former phrase may be added that a simple, although 
not fully satisfactory, solution of the difficulty is to explain 
the sim. as an ellipse, 'as mad as hops (could make one)', 
meaning originally 'mad-drunk'. 'As tliick as hops' is still 
more easily explained as an allusion to the thick-standing rows 
of hops as one sees them in Kent and elsewhere. But how 
are we to explain 'fast as hops'.? It might be regarded as a case 
of sense-shifting, 'fast' originally meaning 'firm' and alluding 
to the bine firmly entwined round its pole. Such sense-shiftings 
are in no way uncommon, see e, g. p, 321, but we do not 
knozv that fast had this sense, and almost any other plausible 
solution might be preferable. Of course it may be, as NED 
thinks, the other word hop, a short spring or leap. But 
although we have the dial, saying 'all of a hop,' suddenly, it 
is not in accordance with the nature of a sim. Its character 
of an intensive requires that the .second member shall be re- 
presented by some word that is emphatic or, so to speak, 
visible enough to impress itself upon the speaker's mind. The 
number of cases in which the second member is formed by 
an abstract noun are extremely rare, 'as quick as thought'. 



" 379 — 

'as hot as love' and *as cold as charity' being some of them. 
Altogether, hop, leap, is too poor a word to serve. But what 
is it then? The compiler very much suspects the existence 
of some other word hop. There seems to be some sort of 
connection between hops and harlots. First we have the more 
accidental collocation in the word hopharlot <C hapharlot, where 
hap < ME happen means wrap. We read further in Middleton, 
Michaelmas Term, Induction, 1607 (Lean, II, ii). Come they 
up thick enough.? — O, like hops and harlots. In Dutch 
we have in Kilian, Hoppe, obscena, spurca miilier. The follow- 
ing early sixteenth c. sim. is also of some interest, De Meysjes 
be7me . . . so licht als Hop. But this Hop is said to be the 
bird Upupa epops, remarkable chiefly for its large movable 
crest and dirty nest. Does it behave in any way that makes 
it the apt symbol of what is light and swift.? But there is 
no need to import any Dutch name for this bird, as there is 
an old English, hoopoe or hoop. Of this bird Holland writes, 
The houpe or Vpupa ... is a nasty and filthy bird, but a 
goodly faire crest or comb it hath. 1601, NED, Because of 
this filthiness and nastiness it has also been called dunghill- 
cock. It is the same thing that according to diet, has occa- 
sioned in D, the secondary use of the word as applied to a 
woman. Cf. also the D. sim. stviken gelijk eeii hop. It is not 
altogether impossible, though not very likely, that a D. phrase 
'zoo licht als hop' may have been introduced and turned out 
'as light, nimble, swift &c. as hop(s)', where hops, not being 
understood, was associated with existing words. Further in- 
formation required. 

Make up pretty things out of her head s.s fast d^s sticks a- breaking. 
Hardy, HE, 47. Cf, You won't pay her any more attentions, 
for you shall come out of this place in quick sticks. Besant, 
RMM, 375, 

All was as quick as electricity. Hardy, FMC, 214. Electricity fr, 
1734, NED. 

Quick z.'s, flash, de Catinat had caught up the axe. Doyle, R, 210. 
Quick as flash I darted out from my hiding-place, ibid., AG, 
151. Phillpotts, SW. 

The dum-dum as rrt/z'^ and effective as the /////;/rt'i?/-<5<9//. London, 
GF, 189. Swift as thunderclap follows flash, retribution de- 
scended. Castle, IB, 266. 

More hastyfidly than thunder falleth fro heuen. Mel., 281. 
If I didn't fetch old dug-out through slicker than snakes and 
faster than a greased thunderbolt. 1837, Thornton. 
He spoke as quick as 'greased lightning' . Thornton, 1833, 
Quicker than greased lightnin'. My covies, I was dead. 1848, 
Slang. Frequently overheard in Oxford in 19 14. — There 
are numerous other expressions n\ wh.\c\\ like greased lightning 
denotes great speed : "I will come," as the Americans say, 



— 38o — 

"like greased lightning." T. Hood, 1842, Thornton. The dog, 
that made himself into a greased streak of Hghtning, as a 
coloured woman described him, bounded on. 1888, Thornton. 
He is whiskered all over town like greased lightning. 1890, 
Slang. He measured again, and then off went his coat like 
greased lightning. 1891, Slang, &c. 

This Americanism has spread not only to England, but is 
well known in Sweden (soni en oljad blixt), Germany (ein geolter 
Blitz), and Holland (de gesmeerde bliksem). Some people liave 
regarded this as an allusion to Amer. express trains called 
"greased lightnings". There may have been railway trains in 
America in 1833, but being rather risky and doubtful and 
not very much known, they cannot have created the term. 
It is a piece of humorous intensification of 'quick as hghtning'. 
The simple every-day lightning may be swift enough for contin- 
ental people, but it does not satisfy an American, who wants 
"big proportions" and something "real" quick. He must put 
some more go into the world's machinery, and therefore he 
greases his lightning to make it extra quick. And in this 
way he has managed to get into an every-day sim. a bit of 
his active mind with its respectless humour and a touch of 
his machine-cut hfe. 

The twinkle came into her eyes, and vanished again as swiftly 
as sheet-lightning. Smith, Strand Mag., 61, '17. 
Whilst I in curses, swifter in pursute/, Th^n zvijiged lightning, 
execrate your soles. VW, 18. 

Be swift like lightning in the execution. Shak., KR II, I, iii, 79. 
Swift as lightning to the combat flies. Pope, Rape, V, 38. 
As quick as lightning. Butler, H, II, 39. Dickens, NN, xliv. 
We'll snatch that box quicker'n lightning. Twain, TS, 212. 
ibid., 183, HF, 46. Castle, IB, 112. London, R, 71. Hewett, 
Dev., 12, &c. 

Tlie allusion was transient as lightning. Hardy, T, 105. 
As sudden as lightning, s. Lan., EDD. Cf. It is too rash, 
too unadvised, too sudden, Too like the lightning, which doth 
cease to be Ere one can say 'It lightens'. Shak., RJ, II, ii, 
118. — 'Quick as lightning' is a very old sim., and is found 
in Virgil and other Latin poets, and being a thing of common 
occurrence, it is frequent in all times and languages. See e. g. 
Heise, GS, 126. 

Lo! ther the rais, running szvift tus fyre. Douglas, 15 13, NED. 

Quick as light Bob and Mike sprang forward. White, BT, 17. 
Well, said M., swift as light, ibid., 155. Cf. It advanced with 
the rapidity of light. Phillpotts, AP, 218. 

Goeth more swift away than doth the summer shade. Para- 
dise of Dainty Dev., 1576 (Lean, II, ii). War, death, or sickness 
did lay siege to it. Making it momentary as a sound, Swift 
as a shadow, short as any dream; Brief as the lightning in 



- 3^1 - 

the collied night. Shak., MND, I, i, 42 f. Swift as a shadow. 

DNL, 21/3, '13. 

The waters were rapid as the shadow of a cloud. Hardy, T, 

133. Cf. And thus I chaunge in euery shoure, And fle away 

ryght as a shade, c. 1400, NED. 
"Hold," cried the captain, quick as an echo. Stevenson, TI, 6"] . 
Be then as swift as zvhirhvind, and as boisterous in tossing all 

thy clothes in a rude heap together. Dekker, GH, 25. 

In battle swifter than the northern wind. Taylor, NL, 47. 

Sent her winged thought, more swift then wind. Spenser, 

FQ, V, vi, 7. About the wood go swifter than the wind. 

Shak., MND, III, ii, 94. He sees a dun horse come swifter 

than the wind. Barham, IL, 247. 

As fast as the wind. Lean, II, ii. Cf. windswift in Shak., 

RJ, II, V, 8. Cf. also. Oh the times, when my tongue have 

ran as fast upon the Scene, as a VVindebanke pens over the 

Ocean. SC, 4. 
As fast as hail. Withals, 1521 (Lean, II, ii). The carabines of 

the troopers, that rappit aff the tane after the tother as fast 

as hail. Scott, RR, xxxvi. See Common, Numerous &c. p. 

398. 
Once more thus winged by horrid fate, I come/. Swift as a falling 
meteor. Dryden, Oed., VI, 236. Here they are Swift as a 
star,/ They shot in mid air. Barham, IL, 541. Cf. Such is 
Human Life; ... It glimmers like a meteor and is gone. 
Rogers, 18 19, NED, and the term 'meteorlike.' 



Running. 

Note. The following sim. are more descriptive than intensi- 
fying in the proper sense of the word, but they have been 
given here, as they imply an intens. of the underlying idea 
of going or moving swiftly. There are probably many more 
sim. than these. 
He'll run like a redshank with the news to the castle. Edgworth, 
1804, NED. Off it's goan agean like a red shenk. Yks., 1847, 
EDD. He ran . . . like a ridshank. Wm., 1877, EDD. He 
cut like a redshank when Aw turnt up. 1896, Lan. EDD. 
They're off like redshanks. Lan. Current also in some parts 
of Ireland, otherwise chiefly in north western dial. — Accord- 
ing to NED this refers to the redshank, a wading bird of 
the snipe family. But as these birds are not uncommon in 
other parts of England, and the sphere of the phrase is re- 
stricted to those parts of England that witnessed the ignominious 
retreat of the Scotch redshanks in 1745, the sim. is far more 
likely to refer to them than to the birds. "The saying has 



— 382 -^ 

been commonly used in Lancashire ever since the retreat of 

the bare-legged Scotch rebels". EDD. 
To rnn like a lainpligJitcr. See p. 374. 
'E run like a knife, you bet. Pain, DO, 48. 
To run like a ivlmtreek. Descriptive of something going fast upon 

its legs. Nhb. EDD. 



Trembling. 

Note. As most of the following sim. refer to a nervous or 
frightened state of the human body, they might with equal 
justice have been given in Ch. II. See also Nervous, (Ap- 
pendix). 

Her soft frame quivered like a jelly. Mason, PK, 26. 

Hadst thou been ought but gossamer, feathers, air, So many fathoms 
down precipitating, Thou'dst shiver d like an egg: but thou 
dost breathe; hast heavy substance. Shak., KL, IV, vi, 49. 
This must be an allusion to a soft-boiled egg deprived of its 
shell. 

To quake like an oveii. Ray. In what way does, or did, an o\'en 
quake? 

You'd shiver like a dog in a briar path on a warm day in July. 
White, BT, 65. Cf. the G. ziiterji wie ein nasser Hu7id. Also Sw. 

[The monster] trembled like a lamb fled from the pray. Spenser, 
FQ, III, vii, 36. 

Lyk an aspen leef he quok for ire. Chaucer, Sonipn. Prol., 3, NED. 
And quok as dooth the leefe of aspe grene. ibid., LGW, 2645. 
To quake like an aspen leaf. Bullein, Bulzv. of Def. Ray. 
Those lily hands Tremble, like aspen-leaves, upon a lute. 
Shak., TA, II, iv, 44. Cf. I shake an 'tw^ere an aspen leaf, 
ibid., KH IVb, II, iv, 99. I tremble (as they say) as 'twere an 
aspen leaf. Beaumont & Fletcher, KBP, III, i. Like an aspen 
leaf he trembled. Southey, 1829, NED. Trimmel'd like an 
espen leeaf. Yorkshire Dial., 10. Thur lass noo began teh 
shadder and trimmel like esp leaves. Sargison, 1881, Cum. EDD. 
Severing like an apsen tree. — Aps is a form current in several 
southern and some few midl. counties. Bever, shiver, occurs 
in many Sc. and E. dial., but can hardly be said to have 
existed in lit. MuE. 

And like an Aspin shakes his coward ioynts. VW, 27. Shaking 
like a asp. Chs, EDD. — Why the aspen trembles, is told by 
Mrs Hemans, in her Wood Walk, see Folkard, PL, 503; see also 
ibid., 229. — This sim. probably in most lunopean languages. 
Sw. : Darra, skdlva, som ett aspldv. G.: Er bibent unde zvagete 
vor sorgen als ein espin loub. MHG. Das Miidchcn zitierte 2vie 
eine Espe. Grim, where further insts arc collected with some 



— 383 — 

other verbs beside zittern. Fr. : Tout le cuer me tremble Aussi 

comme foille de tremble. 13th c. // se vine et tourne phis que 

feuille de pouplier. 15th c, &c. — It must be remembered 

that the L. name of the tree is Populus tremida. 
Mi fleshe it qzvakes as lefe on lyjide. Townel. Myst., 303. See 

Light, p. 298. 

I tremble as doth a leef upon a tree. 141 3, NED, 

As restless as the last leaf upon tree. Hardy, W, 311. 

All was unstable, quivering as leaves, evanescent as lightning. 

Hardy, RN, 19. Cf. Tremble comme la feidlle en farbre. 

15th c. // tremble comme la feuille. Rousseau. Beven gelijk 

en blad. 
An oaken plant . . . which he so sternly shooke, that like an hazell 

wand it quivered and quake. Spenser, FQ, VI, vii, 24. 
Bevrin like at shakin reed. A Scott, 1808, NED. Cf. D., Beven 

gelijk en riet. 



Motionless, Still, Quiet. 

For some other sim. with qidet see Calm &c. p. 60. Some of 

the following sim. with still refer to silence just as much as 

to absence of motion. 
Motionless as death. Galsworthy, CH, 28. 

The house was as still as death. Twain, HF, 15. (i. e. no 

one stirring). She remained still as death while one might 

count ten; then she turned her back upon him. Hardy, Lao., 

450. Silent and still as death. Hardy, MC, 17. 
Dan lay as quiet as the dead. Caine, D, xxxiii. Cf. The village 

was quiet as you came through? — Quiet as my poor husband 

in his grave. Merriman, LH, 94. 

As still as the dead. Hardy, FMC. 
Hah! No more moving? Still as the grave. Shak., 0th., V, ii, 94. 

As qidet as the grave. Lean, II, ii. 
As still as one in sleep. Barclay, Eel., ante 1530 (Lean, II, ii). 
Stretched himself out and went to sleep peaceful as a child. See 

Sleeping, p. 167. Quiet as a child, p. 61. 
The tranter stood still as a sejitinel at the challenge. Hardy, 

UGT, 56. 
Motionless as a model. Hardy, FMC. 

As quiet as a clock. Yks. Folk-Lore, XLV, 430. See p. 61. 
I feel tempted to sit siUl as a chimney and smoke to my dying 

day. Kingsley, WH, 346. 
Dare was standing as still as a caryatid. Hardy, Lao., 238. 
The stranger smiled again and remained immovable as a statue. 

Dickens, PP, I, 307. [They] lay in front . . . immovable as 

statues. Strand Mag., 92, '17. 



— 3^4 — 

Standing motionless as a statue. SmoUet, RR, 49. Harraden, 
I, 444. A little negro boy . . . who stood as motionless as 
a small swart statuette. Doyle, R, 103. 

Still as a statue he stood. Byron, 1823, NED. W. has insts 
fr. Longfellow, Dickens, Gaskell. Hope, RH, 85; Galsworthy, 
MP, 216, &c. — These standard forms are sometimes added 
to in various ways to make them better suit the context, and 
to render them more emphatic: Still as a garden statue. Ch. 
Bronte, W. Horse and rider remained perfectly still, like an 
equestrian statue set up on the edge of a precipice. Conrad, 
Romance, 377. I would stand as intrepid, as firm, and as 
unmoved, as the statue of a Roman gladiator. Dryden, L, 
VI, 100. Breathing heavily, but as rigid and motionless in 
other respects as if he had been a brazen statue. Dickens, 
NN, Ivi. The cat that was chasing the little wee thing/ Lay 
couched as a statue in act to spring. Barham, IL, 39. Mrs. 
L. had stood the whole time perfectly motionless, a pale and 
scarcely breathing statue. Kingsley, WH, 435, &c. — Statue 
is very frequently used as a type of absence of movement. 
This use of the word rec. fr. Caxton in NED. 

Aw'll stand here as still as a yate stump. Lan. EDD. Yate stump, 
yate stoup, (see p. 44, 60), gate-post. 
Ez still ez a fingerpost. Blakeborough, NRY, 240. 
Still as a post. Roget. Cf. She could not stand, yet she 
stirred no more than a post. Long Meg, 7. See Deaf, p. 173, 7. 

Bot Jjar he stod als still os stake. 1300, NED. He stood as still 
as any stake. Spenser, V, iii, 34. Cf. I fro hire go Ne mai, 
bot as it were a stake, I stonde. Gower, 1390, NED. 

Motionless as a log. Cf. Sleeping, p. 169. 

The centre [of a pool] still as jet. Blackmore, LD, 42. See 
Smooth, 270. 

As still as a miller s horse when he's loading. Rowley, Match at 
Midn., IV, 1633 (Lean, II, ii). But compare Ill-mannered, 
p. 105, mill-horse, 125, Sober, p. 190. 

As quiet as a sucking lamb Close by the window will I rest all 
night. Barry, RA, V, i. I will sit as quiet as a lamb. Shak., 
KJ, IV, i, 80. Lying by her side broad awake and as quiet 
as a lamb. Tatlcr, 243. Eliot, MF, 349 (of a dog). See p. 65. 

As calms a mouse. Ferguson, ante 1598, Sc. Prov. (Lean, II, ii).- 
As quiet as a mouse in cheese. Torriano, 1666 (Lean, II, ii). 
See Sile7it, p. 387. Cf. the G. Still als de Miis in de Mdlkist 
(as the mouse in the bin), Wander; and the D. zijn eigcn stil 
houden gelijk '« mtds in V 7neel. (like a mouse in the meal) 
Stoett, NS, II, 55. 

Rebecka's rights once obtained we will be as quiet as mice. 
Miall, 1843, NED. She looks as quiet as a mouse. Eliot, 1859, 
NED. [The place is] as quiet as mice. Straytd Mag., &c. Hewett, 
Still as a mouse. Roget. Well, I gets up, a- wondering, 



— 385 ~ 

and goes downstairs — nobody around ; everything as still as a 
mouse. Twain, HF, 151. Blakeborough, NRY, in daily use. 
This form mentioned in NED, but no inst. given. — "As 
still as a mouse (Peoples' 18 cent.). Quite still. But a mouse 
is never still! Good example of bad translation. No doubt 
from the half Dutch court of William III. Mr. Rees (U. S. A.) 
says very keenly: 'Expressive of noiseless action. The Dutch 
phrase is evidently its origin: ah stille als in mee hose, as 
still as one in his stockings — a listener.' Or it may be 
'Still as Amos', though what Amos is beyond ken." — Good 
example of bad philology! The only thing of value in these 
hues is the statement that this form of the sim. dates fr, the 
eighteenth c. It is no doubt much earlier, probably about as 
old as the earliest form, if not older, as calm is not rec. be- 
fore c. 14GO. And if we are to go across the Channel for 
the origin of this sim., we have something far better to look 
to than Mr. Rees's very doubtful Dutch, i. e. the D. sim. 
Zoo stil als een muis, which dates already from the Middle 
Ages. It is also in G. E? ist so still wie eine Maus (see 
above), and the cp sim. mausestill, and in Sw., and Fr., Tran- 
quille comme une soiiris. (Stoett, NS, II, 54). But the sim., or 
something very like it, must have existed already in the 4th c: 
Tiuita in Orie?ite quies fuit, ut, quemad^nodtim vulgo loquebantur, 
nullus mures rebelles audiret. Vopiscus (Stoett, ibid.). Wander 
explains, 'Owing to its fearfulness the mouse keeps absolutely 
still at the very least noise.' But does it not rather refer 
to the noiseless motion? 'As still, i. e. silent, as a mouse' 
must be the origin. A widening of the sphere to include 
other senses of still and its synonyms is a natural develop- 
ment. 

I stood as stylle as dased quayle. \i . ., E. E. Allit. Poems, NED. Cf, 
Thou shalt make him couche as doth a quaille. Chaucer, 
CIT, 1 1 50. See 'Deaf a.5 a doted doo,' p. 174. 

As still as a bee. — This may refer to the quiet humming of the 
insect on a bright, calm day, which does make the prevailing 
peace more impressive. N. & Q., 12, III, 275. Cf. No water 
came, and the organ notes, faint as a bee's hum, rolled in as 
before. Hardy, JO, 510. 

Winds calm, and water qjiiet as a well. Taylor, MV, 28. See 
Smooth, 2 JO. 

Gregorij stod stille so stone, c. 1300, NED. 'As still as (any) 
stone, is very common in ME. Several insts in Chaucer, Townel. 
Myst., Gower. — W. has half a dozen insts fr. the first half 
of the fourteenth c. to Bunyan. NED an inst. of 1450. Song, 
112 (of women). There they sit as still as stones in the 
street. GGN, I, ii. Wherewith astonisht, still he stood as 
sencelesse stone. Spenser, FQ, II, vi, 31. He sat as sti-ll as 

25 



— 386 .— 

a stone. Twain, TS, 113. Cf. the OE stane-still, which is 
obs. in St, Ht. E., but still current in mod. Sc. dial. — The 
absence of insts fr. Bunyan to modern times is rather re- 
markable. 

So stood these twaine, Jirunoved as a rocke. Spenser, FO, I, ii, 16. 
Cf. The hand that held the candle was as steady as a rock. 
Harwood, 1865, NED. See p. 62. I poked along well on 
to an hour, everything still as rocks and sound asleep. Twain, 
HP, 61. 

Euere heo lai stille as an hul. 1305, NED. 

The form stood motionless as the hill. Hardy, RN, 14. 



Silence. 

Note. For some sim. belonging to the same sphere of ideas 
see Dumb, Mute, p. 177 ff. and Secretive, p. 129. 

I thought my house was as quiet as a church. Hardy, TM, 79. 

The room was as silent as a tomb. Hardy, FMC, 349. The 
whole street was still as silent as the tomb. Hornung, TN, 
189. Cf No murmur broke The silence of that tomb-like spot. 
Hirst, 1845, NED. 

It was as peaceful as the grave might be. Straiid Mag., 
92, '17. 

The house was silent as the grave. Dickens, NN, Ivi, His huge 
side [of a man-of-war that did not shoot] stood silent as the 
grave. Kingsley, WH, 488. Everything was silent as the 
grave. Hardy, FMC, 451, W, 307, TT, 38. I'll be as silent 
as the grave. Stevenson, TI, 28, The battle roared behind 
me, but in front all was as silent as that grave in which so 
many brave men should shortly sleep. Doyle, AG, 277. 
Yoxall, RS, 250. 

Rut as we often see, against some storm A silence in the heavens . . . 
The bold wind speechless and the orb below As Jiush as death, 
anon the dreadful thunder Doth rend the region. Shak., Hamlet, 
II, ii, 461. Hush, silent, rec. fr. this passage and onward. 
Everything else [except the clock] was silent as death. Caine, 
D, XX. 

It was still. Any sound . . . had died away. It was still as 
death. Wells, FMM, 196. 

She came silently as a phantom. Hardy, TM, 364. 

Carlos silent as an apparitioji at the foot of the ladder, put a 
finger to his lips. Conrad, KomaJice, 45. — Phantom is the 
earlier word, already in Wyclif; apparitio7i rcc. fr. 1601. 

Sat silejit like a disciple of Pythagoras. Smollet, RR, 357. Cf. 
Giue him his fiddle once againe. Or he's more mute then a 



— 3S7 - 

Pythagorean, Marston, 1599, NED. And the Latin, Pyihago- 
reis tacittmiior, and the Greek Kai dicoTTTiXoTepoq ecfojaav xal 
Twv nuQ'aYopct TsXecjQ'evTcov. 

As silent as a stoic. Taylor (W. P. ; Lean, II, ii). 

They were as silent as relations at the reading of a will. Hardj^ 
TM, 121. 

Save for the quiver of the engines it was as noiseless as a dream. 
Wells, WA, 150. 

But he never meddled at all; just slid the lid along, as soft as 
mush, and screwed it down tight and fast. Twain, HF, 236. 
A curious inst. of sense-shifting. Mush is a kind of Amer, 
porridge made with maize-meal boiled in water or milk, A 
dish of this kind must be soft, i. e. semi-fluid, but when used 
of a man's action soft must mean 'cautiously still and 
noiseless,' Another word mush, is given below, 'mush as a 
mackerel'. 

The vast panorama had been as silent as 2^. painted picture. Wells, 
WA, 84, See Beautiful, p, 219. 

It is no fun to sit motionless and noiseless as a statue with a cold 
musket in your hand, Kane, 1853, NED, See Motionless, 

P- 383 f- 
Soft as a tom-cat, he crossed