Common as cornbread, old as dirt, funny as all get-out—homespun expressions link modern Texans to our rural and agricultural past, conveying the resolute spirit and plainspoken humor of our heroes and pioneers. Some sayings are instantly familiar because our parents or grandparents quoted them; others parallel the indisputable wisdom of biblical proverbs or Poor Richard’s Almanac; plenty just make us laugh. We asked twelve renowned artists to illustrate their favorite Texas sayings, and we present as well a sample of other axioms and adages common to the state—a collection of sayings as big as all hell and half of Texas.
It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
That’s close enough for government work.
Might as well. Can’t dance, never could sing, and it’s too wet to plow.
I could sit still for that.
You can’t beat that with a stick.
He can strut sitting down.
He’s all hat and no cattle.
She’s all gurgle and no guts.
He chamber-of-commerced it.
He’s on a first-name basis with the bottom of the deck.
There are a lot of nooses in his family tree.
So crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d spit up a corkscrew.
So crooked you can’t tell from his tracks if he’s coming or going.
He knows more ways to take your money than a roomful of lawyers.
Crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
Crooked as the Brazos.
Slicker than a slop jar.
More twists than a pretzel factory.
Crooked as a barrel of fish hooks.
So crooked he has to unscrew his britches at night.
She’s more slippery than a pocketful of pudding.
He’s slicker than a boiled onion.
I wouldn’t trust him any farther than I can throw him.
If that ain’t a fact, God’s a possum.
You can take that to the bank.
You can hang your hat on it.
You can bet the farm on it.
He’s so honest you could shoot craps with him over the phone.
If I say a hen dips snuff, you can look under her wing for the can.
Brave as the first man who ate an oyster.
Brave as a bigamist.
Brave enough to eat in a boomtown cafe.
He’s got more guts than you could hang on a fence.
He’d shoot craps with the devil himself.
She’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water.
She could start a fight in an empty house.
He’d argue with a wooden Indian.
She raised hell and stuck a chunk under it.
He’s the only hell his mama ever raised.
He’s got his tail up.
She’s in a horn-tossing mood.
She’s so contrary she floats up-stream.
She’s dancing in the hog trough.
He’ll tell you how the cow ate the cabbage.
He stays in the shadow of his mama’s apron.
If he was melted down, he couldn’t be poured into a fight.
He’s first cousin to Moses Rose.
He wouldn’t bite a biscuit.
He’s yellow as mustard but without the bite.
He may not be a chicken, but he has his henhouse ways.
So dry the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire.
So dry the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are spitting, and the Catholics are giving rain checks.
So dry the catfish are carrying canteens.
So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
So dry my duck don’t know how to swim.
It’s been dry so long, we only got a quarter-inch of rain during Noah’s Flood.
So dry I’m spitting cotton.
Dry as a powder house.
Dry as the heart of a haystack.
Drier than a popcorn fart.
He’s so busy you’d think he was twins.
They’re doing a land-office business.
Busy as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking convention.
Busy as a funeral home fan in July.
Busy as a one-eyed dog in a smokehouse.
Busy as a one-armed paperhanger.
Busy as a stump-tailed bull in fly season.
Busy as a hound in flea season.
Got to slop the hogs, dig the well, and plow the south forty before breakfast.
Got to get back to my rat killing.
She’s jumping like hot grease (or water) on a skillet.
Panting like a lizard on a hot rock.
No grass growing under her feet.
Just fell off the turnip (watermelon, tater) truck.
He’s so country he thinks a seven-course meal is a possum and a six-pack.
They lived so far our in the country that the sun set between their house and town.
She’s got some snap in her garters.
He’s got plenty of arrows in his quiver.
She’s got horse sense.
He’s got plenty of notches on his gun.
She’s a right smart windmill fixer.
He could find a whisper in a whirlwind.
There’s no slack in her rope.
He’s a three-jump cowboy.
He can ride the rough string.
If she crows, the sun is up.
This ain’t my first rodeo.
Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered.
A worm is the only animal that can’t fall down.
Never sign nothing by neon.
Just because a chicken has wings don’t mean it can fly.
Keep your saddle oiled and your gun greased.
You can’t get lard unless you boil the hog.
If you cut your own firewood, it’ll warm you twice.
There’s more than one way to break a dog from sucking eggs.
Give me the bacon without the sizzle.
Don’t hang your wash on someone else’s line.
Do God’s will, whatever the hell it may be.
Lick that calf again? (Say what?)
Why shear a pig?
Don’t snap my garters.
A guilty fox hunts his own hole.
Quit hollering down the rain.
Don’t rile the wagon master.
Better to keep your mouth shut and seem a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
The barn door’s open and the mule’s trying to run. (Your fly’s down.)
Don’t get all her up about it.
There’s a big difference between the ox and the whiffletree.
There’s no tree but bears some fruit.
Skin your own buffalo.