Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
As comely as  to  As nimble as
As comely as a cow in a cage. HE.
  Langland’s Alliterative Poem on the Deposition of Richard II., Camd. Soc. p. 23. Heywood’s Proverbs, 1562, Part ii. c. 1.
As common as a barber’s chair. CL.  1401
As common as coals from Newcastle.
  Heywood’s 2nd Part of Q. Elizabeth’s Troubles, 1606, repr. 77.
As common as Coleman-hedge. CL.  1403
As common as Get out. Cornw.  1404
As cows come to town: some good, some bad. CL.  1405
As coy as a croker’s mare. H.
  Croker may mean a hawker of crockery.
As crooked as a gaumeril. Yorkshire.
  Gaumeril = cambrel, cambril, or gambrel. Compare Early crooked, &c., and see Atkinson’s Cleveland Glossary, 1868, p. 85.
As crooked as Crawley brook.
  This is a nameless brook, arising about Wobourn, running by Crawling, and falling immediately into the Ouse, a river more meandrous than it, running above eighty miles in eighteen by land. Fuller (1662).
As crooked as Robin Hood’s bow.  1409
As cross as a bear with a sore head.  1410
As cross as nine highways.  1411
As cross as two sticks.
  Apparently a quibble on the double sense of cross. We say crosspatch of a peevish child or person. Patch was Wosley’s fool, and bequeathed his name to later members of the motley fraternity.
As crouse as a lopp. Yorkshire.
  i.e., as brisk as a flea. Mr. Atkinson, in his Cleveland Glossary, 1868, has the couplet:—
        “As fresh and as crous
As a new-washed louse.”
As crouse as a new-washen louse.
  This is a Scotch and Northern proverb. Crouse signifies brisk, lively.—R.
As cunning as a crowder (fiddler).
  Walker’s Selections from the Gent. Mag. iv. 64.
As cunning as Captain Drake.  1416
As cunning as Craddock, &c.  1417
As dank as a dog.
  Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Part 1, ii. 1.
As dark as pitch.  1419
As dead as a door-nail.    Or door tree. Both forms are in Piers Plowman (ed. Skeat, text A, i. 161; ed. Wright, p. 26). First Part of Hen. VI., 1594, repr. 63.
        “When you meet with naughty beere or ale,
You cry it as dead as a dore nayle.”
Wit Restor’d, 1658.    
  See also Hero and Leander, A Mock Poem, 1651, p. 11.
As dead as a herring.
  A herring is said to die immediately after it is taken out of its element, the water; and that it dies very suddenly myself can witness: so likewise do pilchards, shads, and the rest of that tribe.—R.
        “Cicely.  ——— she nam’d one Worthgood.
  Keep.  That word strikes deepe amazement.
Is shee quite dead?
  Cice.  Dead as a herring, Sir.”
Totenham Court, by T. Nabbes, 1638, p. 7.    
As dead as charity.
  Field’s Woman is a Weathercock, 1612, edit. 1828, p. 57.
As deaf as a beetle.
  i.e., As dull of apprehension as the implement so called.
As dear as two eggs a penny.  1424
As deep as a draw-well.
  My mother would playfully say this of me.
As deep as Chelsea.
  N. and Q.
As deep as Garrick.
  I found this current in Cornwall, where Garrick’s name can scarcely have been very familiar. Mr. Pavin Phillips (Notes and Queries, 2nd A., ii. 307) states that it is well known at Haverfordwest, where, however, they make Garratt out of Garrick.
As deep as the North Star.
  N. and Q.
As deep drinketh the goose as the gander. HE.  1429
As demure [or civil] as if butter would not melt in his mouth.
  Some add, And yet cheese will not choke him. Caldo de zorra que està frio y quema. Span.—R.
As disconsolate as Dame Hockaday’s hen. Cornw.  1431
As diurnal as a Gravesend barge.
  Letter to Milton from Sir H. Wotton (Reliq. Wotton, 1672, 343). This may refer to the Gravesend tiltboat, and if so, is an early notice of it.
As dizzy as a goose. CL.  1433
As drunk as a Banbury tinker.
  The London Chanticleers, 1659 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xii. 336).
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.—R. 1737.
As drunk as a drum.
  The Women’s Petition against Coffee, 1674, p. 5.
As drunk as a lord.  1437
As drunk as a rat.
        “I am a Flemyng, what for all that
Although I wyll be dronken other wyles as a rat.”
Borde’s Boke of Knowledge, 1542.    
As drunk as a thrush.
  This is rather a French proverb. It refers to the alleged habit which the bird has of surfeiting itself on the juice of the grape in the South of France during its temporary sojourn there.
As drunk as a tinker’s bitch. East Anglia.
  Forby’s Vocab. 1830, 26–7.
As drunk as a wheelbarrow.  1441
As drunk as David’s sow.
  An Antidote against Melancholy, 1749, p. 127. A common saying, which took its rise from the following circumstance. One David Lloyd, a Welshman, who kept an alehouse at Hereford, had a living sow with six legs, which was greatly resorted to by the curious; he had also a wife much addicted to drunkenness, for which he used sometimes to give her due correction. One day, David’s wife having taken a cup too much, and being fearful of the consequences, turned out the sow, and lay down to sleep herself sober in the stye. A company coming in to see the sow, David ushered them into the stye, exclaiming, “There is a sow for you! did any of you ever see such another?” all the while supposing the sow had really been there; to which some of the company, seeing the state the woman was in, replied, “It was the drunkenest sow they had ever beheld;” whence the woman was ever called David’s sow.—Diction. of the V. Tongue, 1788, quoted by Brady, Var. of Literature, 1826.
As dry as a bone.  1443
As dry as a kex.
  The kex is the dried stalk of the hemlock, of wild cicely (R.) and one or two other plants of the same genus. See Miss Baker’s Northampt. Gloss. art. KEX, and Cooper’s Sussex Vocab., 1853, p. 56.
As dull as a Dutchman. CL.  1445
As dull as ditchwater.  1446
As dull as Dun in the mire.
  Comp. Halliwell in v. From the colour of a horse it would not be easily distinguishable.
As dun as a mouse.  1448
As fair as Lady Done. Cheshire.
  Or, There’s Lady Done for you. “The Dones were a great family in Cheshire, living at Utkinton, by the Forest side. Nurses use there to call their children so, if girls; if boys, Earls of Derby.”—R.
  “Sir John Done, Knight, hereditary forester and keeper of the forest of Delamere, Cheshire, died in 1629.
  “When that Nimrod James the First made a progress in 1607, he was entertained by this gentleman at Utkinton, &c. He married Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Wilbraham, Esq., of Woodhey, who left behind her so admirable a character, that to this day, when a Cheshire man would express some excellency in one of the fair sex, he would say, ‘There is Lady Done for you.’”—Pennant’s Journey from Chester to London, 1793.
As false as a fox.
  Alex. Montgomery, Cherry and Slae, 1597.
As false as a Scot.
  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.—R.
As far as the sun shines in on Candlemas Day,
so far will the snow blow in afore old May.
As fast as a bear in a cage.
  Jack Juggler, an interlude, circa 1550, edit. 1848, p. 39.
As fast as a dog will lick a dish. HE.  1454
As fast as a Kentish oyster.
  Green’s Tu quoque, 1614, by John Cooke (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, vi. 282).
As fast as hops.  1456
As fat as a Bacon-pig at Martlemas. D.  1457
As fat as Big Ben. Leeds.
  A former bell-man [of Leeds] in great repute on account of his huge proportions.—Dialect of Leeds, 1862, p. 247.
As fierce as a dig. Lanc.  1459
As fierce as a lion of Cotswold. HE.
  i.e., A sheep, Gloucester. So in the Interlude of Thersytes (about 1550): “—now haue at the lyons on Cotsolde,” edit. 1848, p. 58. But see Skelton’s Works, ed. Dyce, ii. 76. Another form of the expression is, “A lion with a white face,” i.e., a calf.
As fine as a horse.
  See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 399. “They took places in the waggon (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 riband 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 Liter., 1826.
As fine [or proud] as a lord’s bastard.  1462
As fine as an ape in purple. CL.
  Asinus portans mysteria.—ERASMUS.
As fine as fivepence, as neat as ninepence.
  The first portion occurs in An Antidote against Melancholy, 1749, p. 139. But see it in Appius and Virginia, 1575, apud Dodsley, xii. 348. Compare Finer.
As fine as Kerton. Devonshire.
  i.e., Crediton spinning. Comp. That’s extra, &c.
As fit as a fiddle.
  Englishmen for my Money, 1616 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, x. 529).
As fit as a fritter for a friar’s mouth.  1467
As fit as a pudding for a friar’s mouth. C. AND CL.
  Fulwell’s Like will to Like, 1568. Day’s Blind Beggar of Bednal Green, 1659, ed. Bullen, p. 89.
As flat as a flaun [custard]. Northern.  1469
As flat as a flounder.  1470
As flat as a pancake.
  The London Chaunticleers, 1659. Middleton and Rowley’s Roaring Girl, 1611.
As flat as ditch-water.  1472
As flattering or fawning as a spaniel.  1473
As fond of it as an ape is of a whip and a bell.  1474
As free as an ape is of his tail.  1475
As free of his gifts as a blind man of his eye. CL.  1476
As freely as St. Robert gave his cow.
  “This Robert was a Knaresborough saint, and the old women there can still tell you the legend of the cow.”—R. A metrical life of St. Robert of Knaresborough from an early MS. was printed for the Roxburghe Club, 1821, 4to. The reputation of the saint is perhaps fresher to-day than that of a different sort of local celebrity, Eugene Aram.
As freely as the collier that called my Lord Mayor knave when he got on Bristow causey [causeway].  1478
As fresh as a rose in June.  1479
As fresh as an eel.
  Towneley Mysteries, p. 107.
As full as a jade, quoth Bride.  1481
As full as a piper’s bag.  1482
As full as a toad is of poison.  1483
As full as an egg is of meat.
  “An egge is not so ful of meate, as she is ful of lyes.”—Gammer Gurton’s Needle, v. 2. Jeffreys, in 1685, in sentencing Baxter, declared that his books were as full of sedition as an egg is full of meat.
As full of honesty as a marrow-bone is full of honey.
  Wever’s Lusty Juventus, circa 1550, apud Hawkins, i. 146.
As gaunt as a greyhound.  1486
As gentle as a falcon. HE.
  Marriage of Wit and Wisdom, circa 1570, Sh. Soc. ed. p. 14.
As glad as fowl of a fair day.  1488
As good a deed as drink.
  Shakespeare’s First Part of Henry IV., ii. 1 (bis).
As good a deed as it is to help a dog over a stile. HE.  1490
As good a knave I know as a knave I know not.  1491
As good a maid as Fletcher’s mare, that bore three great foals.
  Detection of the Vse of Dice Playe (1552), quoted in a note to Warton’s H. E. P. 1871, iii. 405.
As good a scholar as my horse Ball. CL.  1493
As good as any between Bagshot and Baw-waw.
  There is but the breadth of a street between them.—R.
As good as any in Kent or Christendom. CL.
  Compare Neither in Kent, &c.
As good as ever flew in the air.  1496
As good as ever the ground went upon.  1497
As good as ever twanged.  1498
As good as ever water wet.  1499
As good as ever went end-ways.  1500
As good as George-a-Green.
  Witts Recreations, 1640. repr. 1817, p. 378. “This George of Green was the famous Pindar of Wakefield, who fought with Robin Hood and Little John both together, and got the better of them, as the old ballad tells us.”—R. But the old ballad does not tell us what is true, as George was a much later hero than Robin Hood and his companions. A prose history of the celebrated Pinner was in print before 1600, but no edition anterior to 1632 is at present known. A drama, founded on his real or supposed achievements, was published in 1599; it is attributed to the pen of Robert Greene.
As good as goose-skins that never man had enough of.  1502
As good as had the cow that stuck herself with her own horn.  1503
As good he an addled egg as an idle bird.  1504
As good beg of a naked man as of a miser.  1505
As good do nothing as to no purpose.  1506
As good eat the devil as the broth he is boiled in.  1507
As good lost as found. C.  1508
As good luck as the lousy calf that lived all winter and died in the summer.  1509
As good never a whit as never the better.  1510
As good out of the world as out of the fashion.  1511
As good sit still as rise up and fall. C.  1512
As good to play for nought as work for nought. HE.
  In the same sense apparently, Clarke (Parœm., 1639, p. 154) has: “You’d as good beat your heels against the ground.”
As good twenty as nineteen.  1514
As good undone as done too soon.  1515
As good water goes by the mill as drives it.  1516
As grave as an old gate-post.  1517
As greedy as a dog.  1518
As green as grass.  1519
As grey as grannum’s cat.  1520
As handsomely as a bear picketh muscles. HE.  1521
As happy as the parson’s wife
during her husband’s life.
  Killigrew’s Parson’s Wedding (Plays, 1664, p. 76). It is probably used in an ironical sense.
As hard as a horn.  1523
As hard-hearted as a Scot of Scotland.  1524
As hasty as Hopkins, that came to gaol over-night and was hanged the next morning. F.
  Compare Don’t Hurry, Hopkins.
As healthy as a trout.  1526
As high as a hog, all but the bristles.
  Spoken of a dwarf in derision.—R.
As high as three horse loaves.  1528
As hollow as a gun.
  Or, as a kex. V. supra.
As honest a man as any in the cards when the kings are out.  1530
As honest a man as ever brake bread.  1531
As honest a man as ever trod on shoe leather.  1532
As hot as a black pudding.
  Fulwell’s Like will to Like, 1568.
As hot as a toast. CL.  1534
As hungry [or poor] as a church mouse.  1535
As hungry as a hawk.  1536
As I brew so must I needs drink. C.
  Avalez ce que vous avez brassé. Swallow ouer that which you haue browen, man: if you haue browen wel, you shal drinke the better.—Wodroephe’s Spared Houres of a Souldier in his Travels, 1623.
As if a man that is killed should come home upon his feet.  1538
As innocent as a devil of two years old.  1539
As intricate as a flea in a bottom of flax.
  Reliquæ Wottonianæ, ed. 1672, p. 452 (Letter of Sir H. Wotton to his nephew, 27 July, 1630). The saying seems to be introduced proverbially.
As Irish as pigs in Shudehill market. Manchester.  1541
As irrecoverable as a lump of butter in a greyhound’s mouth.  1542
As is the gander, so is the goose.  1543
As is the gardener, so is the garden.  1544
As is the workman, so is the work.  1545
As it pleases the painter.  1546
As jealous as the man (Ford) that searched a hollow walnut for his wife’s leman.
  Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602.
As kind as a kite. CL.  1548
As lame as a tree.  1549
As lame as St. Giles, Cripplegate.
  St. Giles was by birth an Athenian, of noble extraction, but quitted all for a solitary life. He was visited with lameness (whether natural or casual I know not); but the tradition goes, that he desired not to be healed thereof for his greater mortification. Cripplegate was so called before the Conquest, from cripples begging of passengers therein.
  This proverb may seem guilty of false heraldry, lameness on lameness: and, in common discourse, is spoken rather merrily than mournfully, of such who, for some slight hurt, lag behind; and sometimes is applied to those who, out of laziness, counterfeit infirmity.—R.
As lamentable as a Lincolnshire goose after plucking time.
  J. T. Smith’s Book for a Rainy Day, 1861, p. 172–3.
As lawless as a town bull.  1552
As lazy as Ludlam’s dog, that leaned his head against the wall to bark. F.
  Ludlam (according to Dr. Brewer) was the famous sorceress of Surrey, who lived in a cave near Farnham, called “Ludlam’s Cave.” She kept a dog, noted for its laziness, so that when the rustics came to consult the witch, it would hardly condescend to give notice of their approach even with the ghost of a bark. The dog of the proverbially “Lazy Lawrence” is also celebrated for a like habit. Sailers say, “As lazy as Joe the Marine, who laid down his musket to sneeze.”—Notes and Queries.
As lean as a rake.  1554
As learned as Doctor Dodypoll.
  See Doctor Dodypoll.
As light as a fly.  1556
As light as a kex. HE.  1557
As light as the Queen’s groat. CL.  1558
As light on his foot as a ragman. Irish.  1559
As like a dock as a daisy.  1560
As like as an apple is to a lobster [or oyster].  1561
As like as fourpence to a groat.  1562
As like as Jack Fletcher and his bolt.
  Damon and Pithias, 1571 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iv. 19).
As like as ninepence to nothing.  1564
As like as two peas.  1565
As like as York is to foul Sutton. ASCHAM.
  Sutton in Yorkshire.
As like one as if he had been spit out of his mouth.
  The London Chanticleers, 1659 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xii. 331).
As long as a Welsh pedigree.  1568
As long as Deansgate. Manchester.  1569
As long as I am rich reputed,
with solemn voice I am saluted:
but wealth away once worn,
not one will say good morn.
  MS. of the sixteenth century in Rel. Antiq. i. 207.
As long as Meg of Westminster.
  “This is applied to persons very tall, especially if they have hopple height wanting breadth proportionable. That there ever was such a giant woman cannot be proved by any good witness: I pass not for a late lying pamphlet, entitled, ‘Story of a monstrous tall virago, called Long Megg of Westminster;’ the writer of which thinks it might relate to a great gun lying in the Tower, called Mons Megg, in troublesome times brought to Westminster, where for some time it continued.”—R. “The large grave stone shown on the south side of the cloister in Westminster Abbey, said to cover her body, was placed over a number of monks who died of the plague, and were all buried in one grave.”—Fuller, 1662.
As long as the bird sings before Candlemas, it will greet after it. D.  1572
As long as to-day and to-morrow.  1573
As long liveth a merry man as a sad. C.
  Porter’s Two Angrie Women of Abington, 1599, edit. Dyce, p. 49 (slightly varied).
As loud as a horn.  1575
As loud as Tom of Lincoln.
  “This Tom of Lincoln is an extraordinary great bell, hanging in one of the towers of Lincoln minster: how it got the name I know not, unless it were imposed on it when baptized by the Papists. Howbeit, this present Tom was cast in King James’s time, anno 1610.”—R. Brady quotes a different account: “This Cathedral has many bells; and particularly the northern tower is filled up, as one may say, with the finest great bell in England, which is called ‘Tom of Lincoln.’… ‘As loud as Tom of Lincoln,’ is a proverb. It weighs 4 tons 1,894 pounds, and will hold 424 gallons, ale-measure; the circumference is twenty-two feet eight inches.—Tour [through the whole Island of] Great Britain, 1742, quoted by Brady, Var. of Literature, 1826.
As love thinks no evil, so envy speaks no good.  1577
As mad as a hatter.
  I have never seen any satisfactory solution of this saying; but it appears from the dedication to the Hospital of Incurable Fools, 4to, 1600, that there was at that time living an eccentric character, perhaps not possessed of superfluous intelligence, known as John Hodgson, alias John Hatter, alias John of Paul’s Churchyard. Possibly we may here have the original “mad hatter.” Nor is it unlikely that he is the same individual whom we find figured as John o’ the Hospital in Armin’s Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609. See farther in Nares’ Glossary, 1859, p. 641–2.
As mad as Ajax.
  Loves Labours Lost, 1598.
As mad as a March hare.
  Colyn Blobols Testament (Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i. 105). But query marsh hare. Heywood Epigr., 2nd Hundr., 1562, 95, very properly says—
        “———— where madnes compares:
Are not midsomer hares as mad as March hares?”
Borde, however, in his Boke of Knowledge, 1542, has, “staring madde like March Hares.” “Fœnum habet in cornu.”—R.
As mad as the baiting bull of Stamford.
  Take the original hereof (R. Butcher, in his Survey of Stamford, page 40). William, Earl Warren, lord of this town in the time of King John, standing upon the castle walls of Stamford, saw two bulls fighting for a cow in the meadow, till all the butchers’ dogs, great and small, pursued one of the bulls (being maddened with noise and multitude) clean through the town. This fight so pleased the said Earl, that he gave all those meadows (called the Castle Meadows), where first the bull duel began, for a common to the butchers of the town (after the first grass was eaten), on condition they find a mad bull, the day six weeks before Christmas Day, for the continuance of that sport every year.—R. Compare Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 81.
As many Leighs as fleas,
Masseys as asses,
and Davenports as dog’s tails. Cheshire.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 71.
As meet as a rope for a thief. HE.  1583
As meet as a sow to bear a saddle. HE.  1584
As melancholy as a cat.
  Walker’s Parœm. 1672, p. 20.
As merry as a cricket. HE.
  Harvey’s New Letter of Notable Contents, 1593, repr. 13.
As merry as a pie.
  King’s Halfe-penny worth of Wit in a Pennyworth of Paper, 1613, sign. D 3.
As merry as cup and can. DS.  1588
As merry as mice in malt. CL.  1589
As merry as the grig.
  The grig is the heather, and also the grasshopper, in which sense Tennyson employs the word. As merry as a grig, I take to be synonymous with As merry (or cheerful) as a grasshopper. Some have it, As merry as a Greek.—See Mountebanks Masque, Shakesp. Soc. ed. p. 117. “Hauing spent those twelue dayes as aforesaide in Candia among those merry Greekes, we eftsoones imbarked our selues for Ciprus, to which we were some nine dayes passing: where (as the saying is) the Italians (with whom we passed to Zant) did our errand (like knights errand) against our coming. They made reporte to the Turkes inhabiting the same Ile, that we were all pirats, and that they should do wel to lay hands on vs, and to carry vs to the great Turk, their Emperor, because, besides that we were pirats, and came into Turky but as spies. Wherevpon the Turkes laid hands vpon us, euen vpon our first arriual, threatning to haue brought vs to Constantinople: howbeit they staied vs in Ciprus two daies, in which time they were indifferently well qualified in hope of money we promised them, and which they had to their full contentment ere we parted from them.”—Parry’s Acct. of Sherley’s Travels, 1601, p. 11. T. W[alkington], in the Opticke Glasse of Humors, 1607, alludes to this characteristic of the Greeks, where he speaks of Zeno (ed. 1639, p. 55):—“but so soone as hee had tasted a cup of Canary, he became of a powting Stoicke, a merry Greeke.” Other passages from early writers, in our own and other languages, might easily be quoted in support of the same theory about the Greeks, and this form of the saying being the correct one; but, after all, it would be difficult to come to a perfectly satisfactory conclusion. Both versions may perhaps he admitted as co-existent; one of the characters in Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister, performed before 1551, is Matthew Merry-Greek.
        “Holmes is as merry a Grig, as ever gave
Woman a kiss in wood at Hornsey Cave.”
Vade Mecum for Malt Worms, 1720, p. 22.    
Some have imagined that for grig we ought to read glig, an early word for glee or cheerful lay among the Anglo Saxons. The Gleoman was a sort of joculator or reciter of comic songs.
As merry as the mares.  1591
As mild as a lamb.  1592
As mony heads, as mony wits.  1593
As much a kin as Lew’son Hill to Pilson-pen. Dorsetshire.
  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. Yet the seamen make the nearest relation between them, calling the one the cow, the other the calf: in which forms it seems they appear first to their fancies, being eminent sea marks.—R.
As much [or far] as York exceeds foul Sutton.
  H. Stephanus (World of Wonders, 1607, translated by R. C., Translator’s Epistle to the Reader). “——it will be found to exceed them: as farre as York doth foule Sutton, to vse a Northerne phrase.” Comp. As Like as York, &c.
As much brain as a burbolt.
  Ralph Roister Doister, 1566.
As much deformed as De la Motte’s house.
  One gets a glimmer here: house, large, coarse feet, East (Halliwell). Mot, a jade, still in use, but more likely dollimop, a servant wench, as altered to de la mott. A house can hardly be called deformed.—Notes and Queries, March 2, 1878.
As much need of it as he has of the pip.  1598
As much sibbed [akin] as sieve and ridder
that grew in the same wood together.
  In Suffolk the banns of matrimony are called sibberidge.—R.
As much wit as three folks, two fools and a madman. Cheshire.  1600
As naked as a Norfolk dumpling.
  Day’s Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, 1659. Alluding doubtless to the tight-fitting skin, like a sausage.
As narrow in the nose as a pig at ninepence. Irish.
  Said of a stingy person.—Mr. Hardman in Notes and Queries.
As natural to him as milk to a calf.  1603
As near akin as the cates of Banbury to the bells of Lincoln.
  A Knack to Know a Knave, 1594, edit. 1851, p. 376. Cates = cakes.
As necessary as an old sow among young children.  1605
As nice as a nun’s hen. HE.
        “Some be nyse as a nonne hene,
[char.]it al thei be nat soo.
some be lewde, some all be schreude
Go schrewes wher thei goo.”
Satirical Verses on Women at end of The Wright’s Chast Wife (1462), ed. Furnivall (E. E. Text. Soc. 1865); but compare Reliquiæ Antiquæ, 1841, p. 248. It is quoted by Wilson in the Arte of Rhetorique, 1553. Heywood has it in his collection, 1562, &c.; his book was first printed in 1546. The phrase, however, occurs first, to my knowledge, in Mr. Furnivall’s Religious, Political, and Love Poems, (E. E. T. S.)
As nice as the mayor of Banbury.  1607
As nimble as an eel in a sand bag.  1608


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