|As old as a serpent.|| 1609|
|As old as Cale-hill (Kent). CL.|| 1610|
|As old as Charing-Cross.|| 1611|
|As old as Glastonbury Tower.|
The torre, i.e., the 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 scarcely any vestiges of it remain.R. 1670.
|As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.|
A saying used when a persons age is asked, and he does not care to give a direct answer.
|As old as Panton Gates (or Gate).|
Perhaps i.q. Pandon gate at Newcastle-on-Tyne.
|As old as Pauls (or Pauls steeple).|
Different are the dates of the age thereof, because it had [three] births or beginnings; one when it was originally co-founded by King Ethelbert, with the body of the church, anno 610; another when burnt with lightning [in 1561, and then after the fire of 1666.]R.
|As old as Pendle-hill.|| 1616|
|As old as the hills.|
They used to say in Toledo: en le tiempo del Rey Wamba. Wamba appears to have reigned in the 7th c.
|As old as the itch.|| 1618|
|As pert as a frog upon a washing-block.|| 1619|
|As pert as a pearmonger.|
Pert, here and in the following sentence, signifies not pert, but sharp, alert, and is in general use in many districts in this sense. The proverb is a mere piece of alliteration, without any special significance.
|As pink as a prawn.|| 1621|
|As plain as a juggem ear.|
i.e., a quagmire.
|As plain as a pack-staff. CL.|
We say pike-staff vulgarly at present; but pack-staff I suspect to have been the original, and to be the true reading. Some say pack-saddle.
|As plain as Dunstable by-way. HE.|
Quoted in a ballad printed about 1570. See Ancient Ballads and Broadsides, 1867, p. 1. Clarke (Parm., 1639, p. 243) has
But it is there quoted differently. The meaning seems to be ironical, as Dunstable by-way was probably by no means plain. Latimer (Sermons, 1549, repr. Arber, p. 56) says: Howbeit ther were some good walkers among them, that walked in the kynges highe waye ordinarilye, vprightlye, playne Dunstable waye. Wherein I judge him the more too be esteemed, bicause hee vseth no going about the bushe, but treades Dunstable waye in all his trauell.Gossons Ephemerides of Phialo, 1586. Epist. Dedic. to Sydney. The author of A Journey through England in the Year 1752 (privately printed, 1869, 8vo, p. 75) testifies to the bad state of the roads in that part of the country nearly two centuries later. But in Whatleys Englands Gazetteer, 1751, the high road here is said to be broad, well-beaten, and plain.
| ||In the Dunstable highway|
|To Needham and beggary.|| 1624|
|As plain as the nose on a mans face.|| 1625|
|As pleased as Punch.|
A curious phrase, seeing that Punch is generally associated with domestic strife or even tragedy.
|As plenty as blackberries.|
Henry IV. Part 1, ii. 4.
|As plump as a partridge.|| 1628|
|As poor as Job.|
Armins History of the Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609, sign. A. This similitude runs through most languages. In the University of Cambridge the young scholars are wont to call chiding jobing.R. We came to a bakers house in an obscure street, and from rooms well furnished to lie in a very bad bed in a garret, to one dish of meat, and that not the best ordered, no money, for we were as poor as Job.Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe, by Nicolas, 1830, p. 57.
|As proud as a peacock.|
Towneley Mysteries, p. 99. Fly pride, says the peacock.Shakespeare.
|As proud as an apothecary.|| 1631|
|As proud as old Coles dog, which took the wall of a dung-cart, and got crushed by the wheel.|| 1632|
|As proud come behind as go before. C.|
Gammer Gurtons Needle, act v. sc. ult. A man may be humble that is in high estate; and people of mean condition be as proud as the highest.R.
|As queer as Dicks hatband, made of a pea-straw, that went nine times round, and would not meet at last.|
Miss Bakers North. Gloss., 1854, p. 79. The writer says: This singular phrase, slightly varying in form and application, appears to be widely circulated, and has travelled even to the United States, for it has found a place amongst Bartletts Americanisms. Wilbraham [Cheshire Glossary, 1836] gives, As fine as Dicks Hatband, and Hartshorne [Salopia Antiqua], As curst as Dicks Hatband.
|As quiet as a mouse.|| 1635|
|As ready as the king has an egg in his pouch.|| 1636|
|As red as a cherry.|
Hazlitts Popular Poetry, iii., 243.
|As red as Rogers nose, who was christened with pump water.|| 1638|
|As rich as a new-shorn sheep. HE.|| 1639|
|As rich as Damer. Tipperary.|
See Lamb and Hazlitt, 1900, pp. 17 for some farther particulars of the Damers, originally associated with the Hazlitts, and ancestors of the Earls of Portarlington. John Damer, of Antrim, migrated in the time of George I. to Tipperary, established himself in some business, and acquired wealth. In the same way, at Venice, the Ziani family became renowned at an early date for their opulence, and it was a saying: Such an one has Lhaver de Ziani. See Hazlitts Venetian Republic, 1900, ii. 216.infra.
|As right as a rams horn.|
Skeltons Why come ye not to Court (circa 1520); Dyces Skelton, ii. 29.
|As right as my leg.|
Lady Alimony, 1659 (written about 1610), in Hazlitts Dodsley, xiv. 292. It is also part of the title of a ballad licensed on the 12 Feb. 16389. See Arbers Transcript, iv. 429. As right as my leg occurs in the old ballad of the Coaches Overthrow (circa 1620), apud Colliers Roxb. Ball. 205.
|As rough as a tinkers budget.|| 1643|
|As round as a Pontypool waiter.|| 1644|
|As round as an adder asleep in the sunshine.|| 1645|
|As safe as a crow in the gutter.|| 1646|
|As safe as a mouse in a malt heap. CL.|| 1647|
|As safe as a mouse in a mill.|
Davenports New Trick to Cheat the Divell, 1639, sign. E verso.
|As safe as a thief in a mill.|
Days Ile of Gvls, 1606, sign. C 3 verso.
|As sapless as a kix.|
The Womens Petition against Coffee, 1674, p. 3.
|As scabbed as a cuckoo.|| 1651|
|As sharp as a thorn.|| 1652|
|As sharp as a razor.|| 1653|
|As sharp as if he lived on Tewkesbury mustard.|
Higsons MSS. Coll. Comp. As thick, &c. infra.
|As sharp as vinegar.|
|As shortly as a horse will lick his ear. HE.|
|As sib as a sieve to a riddle.|
Three Tales of three Priests of Peblis, 1603, l. 471.
The cat, like the owl and the hawk, does not appear to have acquired the faculty of retaining the fur of the mouse or rat, till the fluffy parts have been assimilated, and vomits it along with some of the half-digested food.
|As sick as a cat|
|with eating a rat.|| 1658|
|As sick as a cushion.|| 1659|
|As sick as a horse.|| 1660|
|As sleepy as an October wasp.|| 1661|
|As slender in the middle as a cow in the waist.|| 1662|
|As slippery as an eel.|| 1663|
|As small as herbs to the pot.|
Morlands Account of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont, 1658, p. 366. Days Ile of Gvls, 1606, repr. 74.
|As smooth as a carpet.|| 1665|
|As snug as a bug in a rug.|| 1666|
|As snug as a pig in pea-straw.|
Davenports New Trick to Cheat the Divell, 1639, sign. E verso.
|As soft as silk.|| 1668|
|As softly as foot can fall.|
Ray quotes passages from Quintilian and Terence, which have not the slightest relevancy. Walkers Parm., 1672, p. 33.
|As soon as you have drunk, you turn your back upon the spring.|| 1670|
|As soon drive a top over a tiled house. HE.|| 1671|
|As soon goes the young sheep to the pot as the old.|
Porters Two Angrie Women of Abington, 1599, ed. Dyce, p. 42.
|As soon goeth the young lambs skin to the market as the old ewes. HE.|
Tragi-Comedy of Calisto and Meliba (circa 1520), in Hazlitts Dodsley, i. Aussitôt meurt veau comme vauche. Fr. Cosi tosto muore il capretto come capra. Ital. Tau prests se va el cordero como el carnero.Span.
|As sound as a roach.|| 1674|
|As sound as a trout.|| 1675|
|As sound as an apple.|
Ancient romance of Gaufrey, cited by Wright (Domestic Manners, 1862, p. 279).
|As sour as verjuice [or vargies]. Leeds.|| 1677|
|As spiteful as an old maid.|| 1678|
|As spruce as an onion.|| 1679|
|As stale as custom.|
Sir Thomas More, a play (circa 1590), ed. Dyce, p. 32.
| ||Age cannot wither, nor custom stale|
|His infinite variety.Shakespeare.|| 1680|
|As stale as sea-beef.|
Nashs Christs Teares over Jerusalem, 1591, Epistle to the Reader.
|As still as a stone.|
Towneley Mysteries, p. 33.
|As stout as a millers waistcoat, that takes a thief by the neck every day.|| 1683|
|As straight as a yard of pump water. Berkshire.|
Spoken of a thin damsel.
|As straight as an arrow.|| 1685|
|As straight as the backbone of a herring.|| 1686|
|As strong as mustard.|| 1687|
|As sure as a coat on ones back.|| 1688|
|As sure as a jugglers box.|| 1689|
|As sure as a house in Pomfret. Yorkshire.|| 1690|
|As sure as a louse in bosom. Cheshire.|| 1691|
|As sure as a mouse tied with a thread. HE.|| 1692|
|As sure as Burtons Bank. Irish.|| 1693|
|As sure as check.|
Or Exchequer pay. This was a proverb in Queen Elizabeths time; the credit of the Exchequer beginning in, and determining with her reign, saith Dr. Fuller.R. It occurs in Greenes Epistle to the Reader before his Farewell to Folly, 1591.
|As sure as cleck.|
Taylors Navy of Land ships, 1627. Perhaps cleck should be check.
|As sure as Gods in Gloucester or Gloucestershire.|
Allusively to the number of religious houses formerly in this shire. Ray tells us that there are more and richer mitred abbeys than in any two shires of England besides.
| ||He hitcht pon spire of magick steeple;|
|And truly had not some ran quick|
|And succourd him just in the nick,|
|He had broke his neck and life lost there,|
|As sure (poor wretch) as Gods in Gloster.|
Cataplus, a Mock Poem, 1672, p. 6.
|As sure as if it had been sealed with butter. HE.|| 1697|
|As surly as a butchers dog.|| 1698|
|As sweet as honey.|| 1699|
|As Sylvester said, fair and softly.|| 1700|
|As tall as a Maypole.|| 1701|
|As tender as a chicken.|| 1702|
|As tender as a parsons leman. HE.|| 1703|
|As tender as Parnell, that broke her finger in a posset-curd.|| 1704|
|As the beggar knows his dish.|
Pilkingtons Burnyng of Paules Church in London, 1563, sign. G 5.
|As the best wine makes the sharpest vinegar, so the deepest love turns to the deadliest hatred.|| 1706|
|As the blind man catcheth the hare.|
|As the blind man knows the cuckoo.|
i.e., by his voice. See Dramatic Table-Talk, i. 165.
|As the blind man shot the crow.|| 1709|
|As the crow flies.|
Spoken of distances irrespective of the terrestrial or human means of covering them.
|As the day lengthens, the cold strengthens.|
The meaning seems to be, that after midnight the cold increases toward sunrise. Crese di, crese l peddo, dice il pescatore. Ital. See Chambers Book of Days, i. 19.
True, because it is full of Cuppe-rose.W.
|As the drunkard goes,|
|is known by his nose. W.|| 1712|
Clarke gives this other version
|As the fool thinks,|
|so the bell clinks. CL.|But the original form of the saying is in Lingua, 1607 (Hazlitts Dodsley, ix. 408): As the fool thinketh, so the bell clinketh.
| ||As the fool sings,|
|So he thinks the bell rings.|| 1713|
|As the Friday, so the Sunday:|
|as the Sunday, so the week.|| 1714|
|As the goodman saith, so say we;|
|but as the good wife saith, so it must be.|| 1715|
|As the man said to him on the tree top, Make no more haste when you come down than when you went up.|
This is borrowed from Mery Tales and Quicke Answeres, ed. Berthelet, No. 30 (Old English Jest-Books, i. 44).
|As the market goes, wives must sell.|| 1717|
|As the old cock croweth, so the young followeth. C.|
Or, so the young learns. Chi di gallina nasce convien che razole. Ital. Some have it, The young pig grunts like the old sow.R.
|As the sow fills the draff sours. Engl. and Scot.|| 1719|
|As the weather is the first twelve days of January so will it be for the next twelve months.|| 1720|
|As the wind blows, seek your shelter.|| 1721|
|As the wind blows, you must set your sail.|| 1722|
|As the year is, your pot must seeth. H.|| 1723|
|As they brew, so let them bake.|
Some have it, So let them drink; and it seems to be better sense so. Tute hoc intristi, tibi omne exedendum est.Terent. Phorm. Ut sementem feceris ita metes. Cic. de Orat. lib. 2.R. This is one of a numerous family of sayings, varying verbally, but similar in purport and force.
|As they sow, so let them reap.|| 1725|
|As thick as inkle-weavers.|
Inkle-weavers, like other persons, following special trades, kept themselves apart to prevent the discovery of their mystery, and so naturally grew very clanny to each other. Inkle is a sort of tape.
|As thick as Tewkesbury mustard.|
Dol Tearsheet. They say Poins has a good wit.
Fal. He a good wit? Hang him, baboon! his wit is as thick as Tewkesbury mustard
.Henry IV. Part 2, Act 2.
|As thick as thieves.|| 1728|
|As thin as a Banbury cheese.|
In a satirical sense. See N. and Q., 1st S., xi. 427, and comp. Banbury Veal, &c.
5th Hundr. No. 24 (ed. 1562).
| ||I neuer saw Banbury cheese thicke enough;|
|But I haue oft seene Essex cheese quick enough.|| 1729|
|As thrang as Thraps wife as hanged hersell i t dishclout.|
Teesdale Glossary, 1847, p. 134. Thrangbusy.
|As throng as Knott Mill Fair. Manchester.|| 1731|
|As thrunk as Eccles wakes.|
This saying is current in Lancashire, but more especially in the vicinity of Manchester, from which Eccles is only four miles and a half distant. Thrunk = thronged. I do not know why Mr. Halliwell (Arch. Dict. in v.) draws a distinction between the Lancashire and Cheshire uses of thrunk.
|As thrunk as three in a bed. Cheshire.|| 1733|
|As tough as whit-leather.|| 1734|
|As true as a turtle.|| 1735|
|As true as steel.|
Gammer Gurtons Needle, act iii. sc. 2; Interlude of Youth (1554), edit. 1849, p. 37.
|As true as the dial to the sun.|| 1737|
|As true as the sea burns.|
Warmstreys Englands Wound and Cure, 1628 (Hazlitts Fug. Tracts, 2nd S.)
|As true steel as Ripon rowels.|
It is said of trusty persons, men of metal, faithful in their employments. Ripon, in this county (York), 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.R. But comp. Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 518.
|As valiant as an Essex lion [i.e., a calf].|| 1740|
|As wanton as a calf with two dams.|| 1741|
|As warm as a mouse in a churn.|| 1742|
|As warm as wool. CL.|| 1743|
|As wary as a blind horse.|| 1744|
|As water in a smiths forge, that serves rather to kindle than quench. CL.|| 1745|
|As we make our bed, so we must lie in it.|
Som manreder, saa ligger man.Dan.
|As weak as a wassail.|
Carrs Dialect of Craven, 1828, ii. 241. A comparison most probably borrowed from one who has partaken too copiously of the wassail bowl.
|As weak as water.|| 1748|
|As welcome as a storm.|| 1749|
|As welcome as flowers in May.|| 1750|
|As welcome as snow in hay-harvest.|| 1751|
|As welcome as sour ale in summer.|
Duntons Life and Errors, 1705.
|As welcome as the eighteen trumpeters.|
See Notes and Queries, 2nd S., viii. 484.
|As welcome as water in a leaking ship.|| 1754|
|As welcome as water in ones shoes.|| 1755|
|As well as a beggar knows his dish.|
Fynes Morysons Itinerary, 1617, quoted in Retr. Rev. xi. 328.
|As well as Bernard knew his shield.|
But Master Lacy, another Rome runner here, which knoweth my said proctor there [at Rome], as he saith, as well as Bernard knew his shield.Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, iii, xix.
|As well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.|| 1758|
Acc. of the Quarr. betw. Hall and Mallerie (15756), repr. of ed. 1580 in Misc. Antiq. Angl. 107. Pauls Cross, here referred to, is said to have been in existence before the reign of Henry III.; it was finally demolished in 1643.
|As well taught as my Lord Mayors horse,|
|when his good Lord is at the sermon at the Cross.|| 1759|
|As well worth it as a thief is worth a rope.|| 1760|
|As white as the driven snow.|
The more usual expression was, of old, As white as whales bone (Squyr of Low Degre, &c.), where the bone or tooth of the walrus is to be understood, or As white as bears teeth (Heywoods Second Part of Queen Elizabeths Troubles, 1606, repr. 76.).
|As whole as a trout.|
Old English Jest Books, iii. 40.
|As wild as a buck.|| 1763|
|As wilful as a pig that will neither lead nor drive.|| 1764|
|As wily as a fox.|| 1765|
|As wise as a man of Gotham.|
Or, as Rowlands expresses the same idea in his Paire of Spy Knaves (1619), As wise as John of Gotehams calfe. See Old Engl. Jest Books, iii., Princip. and Add. Notes.
It passes for the periphrasis of a fool, and a hundred fopperies are feigned and fathered on the towns-folk of Gotham, a village in this county. Here two things may be observed:
1. Men in all ages have made themselves merry with singling out some place, and fixing the staple of stupidity and stolidity there. So the Phrygians in Asia, the Abderitæ in Thrace, and Botians in Greece, were notorious for dulmen and blockheads.
2. These places, thus slighted and scoffed at, afforded some as witty and wise persons us the world produced. So Democritus was an Abderite, Plutarch a Botian, &c. Hence Juvenal [x. 50] well concludes
As for Gotham, it doth breed as wise people as any which causelessly laugh at their simplicity. Sure I am, Mr. William de Gotham, fifth Master of Michael House in Cambridge, 1336, and twice Chancellor of the University, was as grave a governor as that age did afford. Sapientum octavus. Hor.R. On the other hand, 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.
| ||Summos posse viros et magna exempla daturos.|
|Vervecum in patria crassoque sub aëre nasci.|| 1766|
|As wise as a woodcock.|
Hyckescorner (circa 1520), Hazlitts Dodsley; Ingelends interlude of the Disobedient Child, about 1563, edit. 1848, p. 81; Appius and Virginia, 1575, Dodsley, xii. 348.
|As wise as her mothers apron-string. UDALL (1542.)|| 1768|
|As wise as the Mayor of Banbury, who would prove that Henry III. was before Henry II. Howell.|| 1769|
|As wise as the women of Maugret. Limerick.|
See N. and Q., 2nd S. vi. 208.
|As wise as Tom a thrum.|
Skeltons Colyn Clout (Works, ed. Dyce, i. 126), and note upon the phrase (ibid. ii. 18990).
|As wise as Walthams calf, that ran nine miles to suck a bull.|
In the Knight of the Burning Pestle, 1613, in which there is a large intermixture (as the authors intended) of burlesque and satire, there is an apparent reference to this well-worn saying, where, in act ii. sc. 1, Humphrey says
Comp. Essex lions and Waltham calves. There used to be a saying in Berkshire relevant to a sleeveless errand, He went all that way to suck a bull a-dry.
| || And thus it is agreed:|
|Your daughter rides upon a brown bay steed,|
|I on a sorrel, which I bought of Brian,|
|The honest host of the Red roaring Lion,|
|In Waltham situate|| 1772|
|As wise as wisp. CL.|
So far Heywood [Woorkes, 1562, part 2, cap. 3). Or a woodcock, some of the later collections add.
|As witty as a haddock.|
Hyckescorner, ubi supra.
|As ye have brewed, so shall ye drink.|
Sir Eger, his Gryme, and Sir Gray-steel, i. 2384 (Hazlitts Pop. Poetry of Scotland, ii. 197).
|As yellow as a guinea.|| 1776|
|As yellow as a kites claw. New Forest.|| 1777|
|As you make your bed, so you must lie on it.|| 1778|
This is slightly different from Rays version. I do not think the saying is confined to Somersetshire, as he seems to have supposed.
|As your wedding-ring wears,|
|youll wear off your cares.|| 1779|
|Ask a kite for a feather, and shell say she has but just enough to fly with.|| 1780|
|Ask but enough, and you may lower the price as you list.|
Oportet iniquum petas, ut æquum feras.Lat.
|Ask much to have a little. H.|| 1782|
|Ask my fellow whether I be a thief. HE.|
Walkers Parm., 1672, p. 18. In the North they say, Ask my mother if my father be a thief. Demanda al hosto s egl ha buon vino. Ital.R.
|Ask the mother if the child be like his father.|| 1784|
|Ask the seller if his ware be bad.|| 1785|
|Ask thy purse what thou shouldest buy.|| 1786|
|Assail who will, the valiant attends. H.|| 1787|
|Asses die and wolves bury them.|| 1788|
|Asses that bray most eat least.|| 1789|
|Astrology is true, but the astrologers cannot find it. H.|| 1790|
|At a great bargain make a pause.|| 1791|
|At a round table theres no dispute of place.| Of which Wodroephe gives an English version
| ||Ronde Table uste le debat,|
|Chascun estant aupres du Plat.| The practice of employing round tables at dinner is frequently followed for the reason that it saves questions of precedence.
| ||A round table yeelds no debate,|
|Where each one may haue hand in plate.|| 1792|
|At Candlemas cold comes to us.|| 1793|
|At court every one for himself.|| 1794|
|At dinner my man appears. H.|| 1795|
|At ease he is that seldom thinketh.|
How the Goode Wif thaught hir Doughter (Hazlitts Pop. Poetry, i.)
|At every dogs bark seem not to awake. HE.|| 1797|
|At Great Glen|
|there are more great dogs than honest men.|| 1798|
|At Latter-Lammas (or never-mass).|
Ad Græcas Kalendas, i.e., never. See Selections from Gent. Mag. ii.
At Tibs Eve is synonymous. [Greek]. Cum mult pariunt.Herodot.R.
|At leisure, as flax groweth. CL.|| 1800|
|At length the fox is brought to the furrier. H.|| 1801|
|At length the fox turns monk. H.|| 1802|