- An abomination unto the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble.
definition of a lie
an amalgamation of Proverbs 12.22 and Psalms 46.1, often attributed to Adlai Stevenson
; Bill Adler The Stevenson Wit
(1966); see Bible, Bible
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) article 1
Allow us to do [it].
remark dating from 1664, in Journal Oeconomique
Paris, April 1751: ‘Monsieur Colbert assembled several deputies of commerce at his house to ask what could be done for commerce; the most rational and the least flattering among them answered him in one word: “Laissez-nous-faire”’; see Argenson
- All power to the Soviets.
slogan of workers in Petrograd, 1917
- All present and correct.
King's Regulations (Army) Report of the Orderly Sergeant to the Officer of the Day
- The almighty dollar is the only object of worship.
in Philadelphia Public Ledger 2 December 1836
- Et in Arcadia ego.
And I too in Arcadia.
tomb inscription, of disputed meaning, often depicted in classical paintings, notably by Poussin in 1655; E. Panofsky ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ in R. K. Klibansky and H. J. Paton (eds.) Philosophy and History: Essays Presented to E. Cassirer (1936)
- And this is law, I will maintain,
Unto my dying day, Sir,
That whatsoever King shall reign,
I will be the Vicar of Bray, sir!
‘The Vicar of Bray’ (1734 song)
- And this, too, shall pass away.
traditional saying said to be true for all times and situations; an early version is: ‘This also shall pass away’ in Edward Fitzgerald Polonius (1852)
- Any officer who shall behave in a scandalous manner, unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman shall…be cashiered.
Articles of War (1872) ‘Disgraceful Conduct’ Article 79; the Naval Discipline Act, 10 August 1860, Article 24, uses the words ‘conduct unbecoming the character of an Officer’
- Anyone here been raped and speaks English?
shouted by a British TV reporter in a crowd of Belgian civilians waiting to be airlifted out of the Belgian Congo, c.1960
Edward Behr Anyone Here been Raped and Speaks English? (1981)
- Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?
from 1947, the question habitually put by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to those appearing before it, now particularly associated with the McCarthy period of the 1950s
- As Maine goes, so goes the nation.
American political saying, c.
1840; see Farley
- Back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman.
plaque on Brooklyn Bridge, New York, 1951, referring to the contribution of Emily Roebling (1843–1903) to its construction
- Ban the bomb.
US anti-nuclear slogan, adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 1953 onwards
- Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
modern saying; ‘been there, done that’ recorded from 1980s, expanded form from 1990s
- Better red than dead.
slogan of nuclear disarmament campaigners, late 1950s
- Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.
motto of the American Christopher Society, founded 1945; see Benenson
- Bigamy is having one husband too many. Monogamy is the same.
Erica Jong Fear of Flying (1973) ch. 1 (epigraph)
- A bigger bang for a buck.
Charles E. Wilson
's defence policy, in Newsweek
22 March 1954
- Black is beautiful.
slogan of American civil rights campaigners, mid-1960s
- A bloody war and a sickly season.
naval toast in the time of Nelson
W. N. T. Beckett A Few Naval Customs, Expressions, Traditions, and Superstitions (1931) ‘Customs’
- British Rail, which last week predicted that it was ready for the worst the weather could do, now blames the near-total dislocation of its services on ‘the wrong sort of snow’.
leader in Evening Standard
12 February 1991; see Worrall
- Burn, baby, burn.
Black extremist slogan in use during the Los Angeles riots, August 1965
- Can't pay, won't pay.
anti-Poll Tax slogan, c.
1990; see Fo
- Careless talk costs lives.
Second World War security slogan
- Cattle die, kinsmen die,
the self must also die;
but glory never dies,
for the man who is able to achieve it.
Hávamál (‘Sayings of the High One’), Old Norse poem of the 10th century
- Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
modern saying, often attributed to St Teresa
of Ávila, but not found in her writings
- The Christians to the lions!
- Close your eyes and think of England.
said to derive from a 1912 entry in the journal of Lady Hillingdon (1857–1940), but the journal has never been traced
- The cloud of unknowing.
title of mystical prose work (14th century)
- Clunk, click, every trip.
road safety campaign promoting the use of seat-belts, 1971
- Come with me to the Casbah.
often attributed to Charles Boyer (1898–1978) in the film Algiers (1938), but the line does not in fact occur
L. Swindell Charles Boyer (1983)
- A community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe…in which the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition are joined with the forces of partnership and cooperation.
revised Clause Four of the Labour Party constitution, passed at a special conference 29 April 1995; see Anonymous
- A Company for carrying on an undertaking of Great Advantage, but no one to know what it is.
The South Sea Company Prospectus (1711), in Virginia Cowles The Great Swindle (1963) ch. 5
- Corruptio optimi pessima.
Corruption of the best becomes the worst.
Latin saying, found in English from the early 17th century
- Coughs and sneezes spread diseases.
Second World War health slogan (1942)
- Crisis? What crisis?
summarizing James Callaghan
's remark: ‘I don't think other people in the world would share the view there is mounting chaos’, interview at London Airport, 10 January 1979
headline in Sun, 11 January 1979
- Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?
daughter to father in First World War recruiting poster
- [Death is] nature's way of telling you to slow down.
American life insurance proverb, in Newsweek 25 April 1960
- Death is only an horizon, and an horizon is only the limit of our sight.
traditional, sometimes attributed to William Penn
- The Devil is in the details.
late 20th century saying
- Dewey defeats Truman.
anticipating the result of the Presidential election, which Truman
won against expectation
headline in Chicago Tribune 3 November 1948
- The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer.
- Does he take sugar?
title of programme, BBC Radio 4, 1977–98
- A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.
slogan of the National Canine Defence League, from 1978
- Don't ask a man to drink and drive.
UK road safety slogan, from 1964
- Don't die of ignorance.
Aids publicity campaign, 1987
- Nil carborundum illegitimi.
Don't let the bastards grind you down.
cod Latin saying in circulation during the Second World War, though possibly of earlier origin; often quoted as ‘nil carborundum’ or ‘illegitimi non carborundum’
- Downing Street's dodgy dossier of ‘intelligence’ about Iraq.
referring to a briefing document on Iraqi weaponry which was later withdrawn
leading article in Observer 9 February 2003
- Duck and cover.
US advice in the event of a missile attack, c.1950; associated particularly with children's cartoon character ‘Bert the Turtle’
- Egghead weds hourglass.
on the marriage of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe
headline in Variety 1956; attributed
- The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
late 20th century, said to be ‘an old Arab proverb’
- The eternal triangle.
book review title, in Daily Chronicle 5 December 1907
- Every country has its own constitution; ours is absolutism moderated by assassination.
Ernst Friedrich Herbert, Count Münster, quoting ‘an intelligent Russian’, in Political Sketches of the State of Europe, 1814–1867 (1868)
- Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go by thy side.
spoken by Knowledge
Everyman (1509–19) l. 522
- Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse.
Everything passes, everything perishes, everything palls.
Charles Cahier Quelques six mille proverbes (1856) no. 1718
- Expletive deleted.
in Submission of Recorded Presidential Conversations to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives by President Richard M. Nixon 30 April 1974, appendix 1
- Exterminate…the treacherous English, walk over General French's contemptible little army.
allegedly a copy of Orders issued by the Kaiser Wilhelm II
but most probably fabricated by the British
annexe to BEF [British Expeditionary Force] Routine Orders of 24 September 1914, in Arthur Ponsonby Falsehood in Wartime (1928) ch. 10
- An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
modern saying, often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi
; see Bible
- Faster than a speeding bullet!…Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! Yes, it's Superman! Strange visitor from another planet…Who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with his bare hands, and who—disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper—fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!
Superman (US radio show, 1940 onwards) preamble
- Fifty-four forty, or fight!
slogan of expansionist Democrats in the US presidential campaign of 1844, in which the Oregon boundary definition was an issue
- Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong.
saying popular with American servicemen during the First World War; later associated with Mae West
and Texas Guinan (1884–1933), it was also the title of a 1927 song by Billy Rose and Willie Raskin
- The filth and the fury.
following a notorious interview with the Sex Pistols broadcast live on Thames Television
headline in Daily Mirror, 2 December 1976
- First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
20th century saying, now frequently misattributed to Mahatma Gandhi
- Freddie Starr ate my hamster.
headline in Sun 13 March 1986
- Free at last, free at last
Thank God almighty
We are free at last.
epitaph of Martin Luther King
(1929–68), Atlanta, Georgia
spiritual, with which he ended his ‘I have a dream’ speech; see King
- Liberté! Égalité! Fraternité!
Freedom! Equality! Brotherhood!
motto of the French Revolution, but of earlier origin
the Club des Cordeliers passed a motion, 30 June 1793, ‘that owners should be urged to paint on the front of their houses, in large letters, the words: Unity, indivisibility of the Republic, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or death’; in Journal de Paris
no. 182 (from 1795 the words ‘or death’ were dropped); see Chamfort
- From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
‘The Cornish or West Country Litany’; Francis T. Nettleinghame Polperro Proverbs and Others (1926)
- From Moses to Moses there was none like unto Moses.
later inscription on the tomb of the Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides
- A mari usque ad mare.
From sea unto sea.
- From the halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli.
‘The Marines' Hymn’ (1847)
- [A] frozen flash of history.
Pulitzer Prize (1945) citation on the photograph by American photographer Joe Rosenthal (1911–2006) of US Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima
quoted in New York Times 9 May 1945
- Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
mid 20th century saying, perhaps deriving from the Chinese proverb ‘Who teaches me for a day is my father for a lifetime’
- Give me a child for the first seven years, and you may do what you like with him afterwards.
attributed as a Jesuit maxim, in Lean's Collectanea
vol. 3 (1903); see Spark
- Give us back our eleven days.
slogan protesting against the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, and in this form associated with Hogarth's cartoon showing a rowdy Oxfordshire election of 1754
David Ewing Duncan The Calendar (1998)
- God be in my head,
And in my understanding…
God be in my mouth,
And in my speaking…
God be at my end,
And at my departing.
Sarum Missal (11th century)
- Gode sir pray ich ye
for of saynte charite,
come ant daunce wyt me,
- Gott strafe England!
God punish England!
a common salutation in Germany in 1914 and the following years, often wrongly attributed to the poem Hassgesang gegen England
(1914) by Ernst Lissauer (1882–1937), known as the ‘Hymn of Hate’; see Funke
- God save our gracious king!
Long live our noble king!
God save the king!
Send him victorious,
Happy, and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the king!
‘God save the King’, attributed to various authors of the mid eighteenth century, including Henry Carey; Jacobite variants, such as James Hogg ‘The King's Anthem’ also exist
on the sinking of the General Belgrano
headline in Sun 4 May 1982
- Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200.
instructions on ‘Community Chest’ card in the game ‘Monopoly’; invented by Charles Brace Darrow (1889–1967) in 1931
- Guns don't kill people; people kill people.
National Rifle Association slogan
- Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant.
Hail Caesar, those who are about to die salute you.
gladiators saluting the Roman Emperor
Suetonius Lives of the Caesars ‘Claudius’ ch. 21
- Salve, regina, mater misericordiae.
Hail holy queen, mother of mercy.
‘Salve Regina’ attributed to various 11th century authors; Analecta Hymnica vol. 50 (1907)
- Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
‘Ave Maria’ or ‘Hail Mary’, also known as ‘The Angelic Salutation’, dating from the 11th century; see Bible
- Happy is that city which in time of peace thinks of war.
inscription found in the armoury of Venice
Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621–51)
- Here's tae us; wha's like us?
Gey few, and they're a' deid.
Scottish toast, probably of 19th-century origin; the first line appears in T. W. H. Crosland The Unspeakable Scot (1902), and various versions of the second line are current
- Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?
anti-Vietnam marching slogan, 1960s
- How different, how very different from the home life of our own dear Queen!
comment overheard at a performance of Cleopatra by Sarah Bernhardt
Irvin S. Cobb A Laugh a Day (1924) (probably apocryphal)
- Je suis Marxiste—tendance Groucho.
I am a Marxist—of the Groucho tendency.
slogan used at Nanterre in Paris, 1968
- I believe that every human being has a finite number of heartbeats available to him, and I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.
attributed to the American astronaut Neil Armstrong
4 July 1969; but Armstrong said in First on the Moon
(1970, with Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin) that he knew the saying but had only quoted it in order to disagree with it
- If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?
sometimes quoted as ‘of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?’
modern saying, often wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein
- If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't move, pick it up; and if you can't pick it up, paint it.
1940s military saying, in Paul Dickson The Official Rules (1978)
- If you really want to make a million…the quickest way is to start your own religion.
previously attributed to L. Ron Hubbard (1911–86) in B. Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard Jr. L. Ron Hubbard (1987), but attribution subsequently rejected by L. Ron Hubbard Jr., who also dissociated himself from this book
- If you're not paying for it, you're the product.
warning to users of free online services, first found c. 2010
- Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.
If you seek a monument, gaze around.
inscription in St Paul's Cathedral, London, attributed to the son of Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723), its architect
- I'm backing Britain.
slogan coined by workers at the Colt factory, Surbiton, Surrey and subsequently used in a national campaign, in Times 1 January 1968
In Affectionate Remembrance
Which Died at The Oval
29th August, 1882.
Deeply lamented by a large circle of
sorrowing friends and acquaintances.
R. I. P.
N. B.—The body will be cremated and
the ashes taken to Australia.
following England's defeat by the Australians
in Sporting Times September 1882
- The iron lady.
of Margaret Thatcher, in Soviet defence ministry newspaper Red Star, which accused her of trying to revive the cold war
in Sunday Times 25 January 1976
- Is your journey really necessary?
slogan coined to discourage Civil Servants from going home for Christmas, 1939
- It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.
statement by unidentified US Army Major, referring to Ben Tre in Vietnam
in Associated Press Report, New York Times 8 February 1968
- It'll play in Peoria.
catchphrase of the Nixon
administration (early 1970s) meaning ‘it will be acceptable to middle America’, but originating in a standard music hall joke of the 1930s
- It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.
late 20th century saying associated with the television series Star Trek
(1966–), created by Gene Roddenberry
; the saying does not occur in the series but derives from the 1987 song ‘Star Trekkin' ’ sung by The Firm
- It's The Sun wot won it.
following the 1992 general election
headline in Sun 11 April 1992
- It's the economy, stupid.
slogan on a sign put up at the 1992 Clinton
presidential campaign headquarters by campaign manager James Carville
- It takes 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat, but only one to wear it.
slogan of an anti-fur campaign poster, 1980s, sometimes attributed to David Bailey (1938–)
- It was resolved, That England was too pure an Air for Slaves to breathe in.
‘In the 11th of Elizabeth’ (17 November 1568–16 November 1569), in John Rushworth Historical Collections
(1680–1722) vol. 2; see Cowper
- I will return. And I will be millions.
inscription on the tomb of Eva Perón (1919–52), Buenos Aires
- Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris.
title of musical entertainment (1968–72) which triggered numerous imitations
- Just say no.
slogan of the Nancy Reagan
Drug Abuse Fund, founded 1985
- Keep Britain tidy.
issued by the Central Office of Information, 1950s
- Keep calm and carry on.
poster designed by the Ministry of Information in 1939 but not used in World War II; re-discovered and popularized in the early 21st century
- The King over the Water.
Jacobite toast (18th-century)
- Gnothi seauton.
inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi
Plato, in Protagoras
343 b, ascribes the saying to the Seven Wise Men; see Goethe
- Labour isn't working.
on poster showing a long queue outside an unemployment office
Conservative Party slogan 1978–9
- Labour's double whammy.
Conservative Party election slogan 1992
- Lang may yer lum reek!
long may your chimney smoke
- Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
motto of the Special Olympics (associated with Eunice Kennedy Shriver)
- Let no one enter who does not know geometry [mathematics].
inscription on Plato
's door, probably at the Academy at Athens
Elias Philosophus In Aristotelis Categorias Commentaria; in A. Busse (ed.) Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca (1900) vol. 18, pt. 1
- Let's get out of these wet clothes and into a dry Martini.
line coined in the 1920s by Robert Benchley
's press agent and adopted by Mae West
in Every Day's a Holiday
- Revenons à ces moutons.
Let us get back to these sheep [i.e. ‘Let us get back to the subject’].
Maistre Pierre Pathelin l. 1191 (often quoted as ‘Retournons à nos moutons [Let us return to our sheep]’)
- Gaudeamus igitur,
Juvenes dum sumus.
Let us then rejoice,While we are young.
medieval students' song, traced to 1267, but revised in the 18th century
- Liberty is always unfinished business.
title of 36th Annual Report of the American Civil Liberties Union, 1 July 1955–30 June 1956
- Similia similibus curantur.
Like cures like.
motto of homeopathic medicine, although not found in this form in the writings of C. F. S. Hahnemann (1755–1843); the Latin appears as an anonymous side-note in Paracelsus Opera Omnia (1490–1541, ed. 1658) vol. 1
- Lions led by donkeys.
associated with British soldiers during the First World War
attributed to Max Hoffman (1869–1927) in Alan Clark The Donkeys (1961); this attribution has not been traced elsewhere, and the phrase is of much earlier origin: ‘Unceasingly they had drummed into them the utterance of The Times: “You are lions led by packasses”’ was said of French troops defeated by Prussians, in Francisque Sarcey Paris during the Siege (1871)
- Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one!
after the acquittal of Lizzie Borden, in June 1893, from the charge of murdering her father and stepmother at Fall River, Massachusetts, on 4 August 1892
- London, thou art the flower of cities all!
‘London’ (poem of unknown authorship, previously attributed to William Dunbar, 1465–1530) l. 16
- Loose lips sink ships.
American Second World war security slogan
- Make do and mend.
wartime slogan, 1940s
- Make love not war.
student slogan, 1960s
- Make poverty history.
slogan of a campaign launched in 2005 by a coalition of charities and other groups to pressure governments to take action to reduce poverty
- Math class is tough.
spoken by Teen Talk Barbie, often misquoted as ‘Math is hard’; the doll was released in July 1992, but following criticism by the American Association of University Women this saying was removed in October 1992
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
The bed be blest that I lie on.
Four angels to my bed,
Four angels round my head.
traditional (the first two lines in Thomas Ady A Candle in the Dark, 1656)
- Medicine for the soul.
inscription on the library of Ramses II at Thebes (1292–1225 bc)
Diodorus Siculus Bibliotheca Historica 60–30 bc
- Members [of civil service orders] rise from CMG (known sometimes in Whitehall as ‘Call Me God’) to the KCMG (‘Kindly Call Me God’) to—for a select few governors and super-ambassadors—the GCMG (‘God Calls Me God’).
Anthony Sampson Anatomy of Britain (1962)
- Men said openly that Christ slept and His saints.
of England during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 1137
- The ministry of all the talents.
name given ironically to William Grenville's coalition of 1806, and also applied to later coalitions
G. W. Cooke The History of Party (1837) vol. 3
- The nature of God is a circle of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.
said to have been traced to a lost treatise of Empedocles; quoted in the Roman de la Rose, and by St Bonaventura (1221–74) in Itinerarius Mentis in Deum ch. 5, closing line
- New Labour, new danger.
Conservative slogan, 1996
- Nemo me impune lacessit.
No one provokes me with impunity.
motto of the Crown of Scotland and of all Scottish regiments
- No surrender!
the defenders of the besieged city of Derry to the Jacobite army of James II, April 1689, adopted as a slogan of Protestant Ulster
Jonathan Bardon A History of Ulster (1992)
- Nothing in excess.
inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and variously ascribed to the Seven Wise Men
- Not in my name.
slogan of protesters against the war in Iraq, 2003
- Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.
often used in the form ‘Not to be a socialist…’
adopted by Clemenceau
, and attributed by him to François Guizot (1787–1874)
- Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
first printed in a late edition of the New England Primer (1781)
- Adeste, fideles.
French or German hymn (1743) in Murray's Hymnal (1852); translation based on that of F. Oakeley (1841)
- O Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling,
O grave, thy victory?
The bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me.
‘For You But Not For Me’ (First World War song); see Bible
- O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!
prayer of a common soldier before the battle of Blenheim, 1704
in Notes and Queries vol. 173, no. 15 (9 October 1937); quoted in John Henry Newman Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864)
- Ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Führer.
One realm, one people, one leader.
Nazi Party slogan, early 1930s
- O rare Ben Jonson.
inscription on the tomb of Ben Jonson
.1573–1637) in Westminster Abbey
- O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.
‘The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomon’ (traditional song)
- Peace, order, and good government.
British North America Act 1867 sect. 91, introduction
- A place within the meaning of the Act.
usually taken to be a reference to the Betting Act 1853, sect. 2, which banned off-course betting on horse-races
- Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.
printed notice in a dancing saloon
Oscar Wilde Impressions of America ‘Leadville’ (c.1882–3)
- Please to remember the Fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot.
traditional rhyme on the Gunpowder Plot (1605)
- Power to the people.
slogan of the Black Panther movement, from c.
1968 onwards; see Newton
- Psychological flaws.
on which, according to an unnamed source, Gordon Brown
needed to ‘get a grip’
18 January 1998; attributed to Alastair Campbell
by Bernard Ingham in minutes of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Administration, 2 June 1998, but denied by Campbell in evidence to the Committee, 23 June 1998
- The [or A] quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
used by keyboarders to ensure that all letters of the alphabet are functioning
R. Hunter Middleton's introduction to The Quick Brown Fox (1945) by Richard H. Templeton Jr.
- Raise the stone, and there thou shalt find me, cleave the wood and there am I.
Oxyrhynchus Papyri, in B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt (eds.) Sayings of Our Lord (1897) Logion 5, l. 23
- Rest in peace. The mistake shall not be repeated.
inscription on the cenotaph at Hiroshima, Japan
- Say it ain't so, Joe.
‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson and seven other Chicago players were charged with being bribed to lose the 1919 World Baseball Series
plea said to have been made by a boy as Jackson emerged from the hearing, September 1920
- Says Tweed to Till—
‘What gars ye rin sae still?’
Says Till to Tweed—
‘Though ye rin with speed
And I rin slaw,
For ae man that ye droon
I droon twa.’
- Science finds, industry applies, man conforms.
subtitle of guidebook to 1933 Chicago World's Fair
- See the happy moron,
He doesn't give a damn,
I wish I were a moron,
My God! perhaps I am!
in Eugenics Review July 1929
- She's the most disthressful country that iver yet was seen,
For they're hangin' men an' women for the wearin' o' the Green.
‘The Wearin' o' the Green’ (1795 ballad)
- She was poor but she was honest
Victim of a rich man's game.
First he loved her, then he left her,
And she lost her maiden name…
It's the same the whole world over,
It's the poor wot gets the blame,
It's the rich wot gets the gravy.
Ain't it all a bleedin' shame?
‘She was Poor but she was Honest’; sung by British soldiers in the First World War
- Slip, slop, slap.
sun protection slogan, meaning slip on a T-shirt, slop on some suncream, slap on a hat
Australian health education programme, 1980s
- Smoking can seriously damage your health.
government health warning now required by British law to be printed on cigarette packets
from early 1970s, in form ‘Smoking can damage your health’
- So cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.
banning the film The Seashell and the Clergyman
British Board of Film Censors, 1929
- A soldier of the Great War known unto God.
standard epitaph for the unidentified dead of World War One
adopted by the War Graves Commission
- So long as there shall but one hundred of us remain alive, we will never subject ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not glory, it is not riches, neither is it honour, but it is freedom alone that we fight and contend for, which no honest man will lose but with his life.
‘Declaration of Arbroath’, a letter sent to the Pope by the Scottish Parliament, 6 April 1320
- So much chewing gum for the eyes.
small boy's definition of certain television programmes
James Beasley Simpson Best Quotes of '50, '55, '56 (1957)
- Splendid isolation.
headline in Times
22 January 1896, referring to a speech by George Foster; see Foster
- Sticks nix hick pix.
front-page headline on the lack of enthusiasm for farm dramas among rural populations
in Variety 17 July 1935
road safety slogan, current in the US from 1912
- A luta continua.
The struggle continues.
Portuguese phrase originally associated with the independence struggle in Mozambique from the 1960s, now more widely used especially in South Africa
- Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springth the wude nu.
‘Cuckoo Song’ (c.1250), sung annually at Reading Abbey gateway and first recorded by John Fornset, a monk of Reading Abbey; see Pound
- Citius, altius, fortius.
Swifter, higher, stronger.
motto of the Olympic Games
- Their name liveth for evermore.
standard inscription on the Stone of Remembrance in each military cemetery of World War One, proposed by Rudyard Kipling
as a member of the War Graves Commission
Charles Carrington Rudyard Kipling
(rev. ed. 1978); see Bible, Sassoon
- There is a lady sweet and kind,
Was never face so pleased my mind;
I did but see her passing by,
And yet I love her till I die.
found on the reverse of leaf 53 of ‘Popish Kingdome or reigne of Antichrist’, in Latin verse by Thomas Naogeorgus, and Englished by Barnabe Googe; printed in 1570; sometimes attributed to Thomas Forde
- There is no good flock without a good shepherd, and no good shepherd without a good dog.
motto of the International Sheep Dog Society, said to derive from a Scottish proverb
- There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come.
in flyer for Nation
15 April 1943; see Hugo
- There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.
attributed, among others, to Edward Wallis Hoch (1849–1945) on the grounds of it having appeared in his Kansas publication, the Marion Record, though in fact disclaimed by him (‘behooves’ sometimes substituted for ‘becomes’)
- There's no such thing as a free lunch.
colloquial axiom in US economics from the 1960s, much associated with Milton Friedman
; recorded in form ‘there ain't no such thing as a free lunch’ from 1938, which gave rise to the acronym tanstaafl
in Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
(1966) ch. 11; see Guth
- There was a young lady of Riga
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
variants exist from 1924 or earlier
- They have paid to see Dr Grace bat, not to see you bowl.
said to the bowler when the umpire had called ‘not out’ after W. G. Grace was unexpectedly bowled first ball
Harry Furniss A Century of Grace (1985); perhaps apocryphal
- Ils ne passeront pas.
They shall not pass.
slogan used by the French army at the defence of Verdun in 1916; variously attributed to Marshal Pétain and to General Robert Nivelle, and taken up by the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War in the form ‘No pasarán!
’; see Ibarruri
- Ça ira.
Things will work out.
refrain of ‘Carillon national’, popular song of the French Revolution ( July 1790), tr. William Doyle; the phrase is believed to originate with Benjamin Franklin
, who may have uttered it in 1776 when asked for news of the American Revolution
- Think globally, act locally.
Friends of the Earth slogan, c.1985
- This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
—Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.
‘fleet’ = corruption of ‘flet’, meaning house-room
‘Lyke-Wake Dirge’, traditional ballad
- Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener, courage the greater, as our might lessens.
The Battle of Maldon, written c. 1000
- Three acres and a cow.
regarded as the requirement for self-sufficiency; associated with the radical politician Jesse Collings (1831–1920) and his land reform campaign begun in 1885
Jesse Collings in the House of Commons, 26 January 1886, although used earlier by Joseph Chamberlain
in a speech at Evesham (in Times
17 November 1885), by which time it was already proverbial
- Per ardua ad astra.
Through struggle to the stars.
motto of the Mulvany family, quoted by Rider Haggard
in The People of the Mist
(1894) ch. 1; still in use as motto of the R.A.F., having been proposed by J. S. Yule in 1912 and approved by King George V
- Sic semper tyrannis.
Thus always to tyrants.
motto of the State of Virginia; see Booth
- Sic transit gloria mundi.
Thus passes the glory of the world.
said during the coronation of a new Pope, while flax is burned to represent the transitoriness of earthly glory
used at the coronation of Alexander V in Pisa, 7 July 1409, but earlier in origin; see Thomas à Kempis
- 'Tis bad enough in man or woman
To steal a goose from off a common;
But surely he's without excuse
Who steals the common from the goose.
‘On Inclosures’; in The Oxford Book of Light Verse (1938)
- Jedem das Seine.
To each his own.
often quoted as ‘Everyone gets what he deserves’
inscription on the gate of Buchenwald concentration camp, 1937; see Bold
- To err is human but to really foul things up requires a computer.
Farmers' Almanac for 1978
‘Capsules of Wisdom’; see Pope
- To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
Clause Four of the Labour Party's Constitution of 1918 (revised 1929); the commitment to common ownership of services was largely removed in 1995; see Anonymous
- To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
‘Salve Regina’ attributed to various 11th century authors; Analecta Hymnica vol. 50 (1907)
- Ad majorem Dei gloriam.
To the greater glory of God.
motto of the Society of Jesus
- Nabha Sparasham Deeptam.
Touching the sky with glory.
motto of the Indian Air Force, taken from the Bhagavadgita
- Wall St. lays an egg.
crash headline, Variety 30 October 1929
- War will cease when men refuse to fight.
pacifist slogan, from c.1936 (often quoted as, ‘Wars will cease…’)
- We came in peace for all mankind.
on a plaque near the Sea of Tranquillity on the moon by the Apollo 11 expedition, 20–21 July 1969
- We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
first tweet of the C.I.A., 6 June 2014
- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The American Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776; see Jefferson
- Nous n'irons plus aux bois, les lauriers sont coupés.
We'll to the woods no more,The laurels all are cut.
old nursery rhyme, quoted by Théodore de Banville in Les Cariatides, les stalactites (1842–6); tr. A. E. Housman
- Te Deum laudamus: Te Dominum confitemur.
We praise thee, God: we own thee Lord.
- We're here
sung to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, in John Brophy and Eric Partridge Songs and Slang of the British Soldier 1914–18 (1930)
- We shall not be moved.
title of labour and civil rights song (1931) adapted from an earlier gospel hymn
- We shall overcome.
title of song, originating from before the American Civil War, adapted as a Baptist hymn (‘I'll Overcome Some Day’, 1901) by C. Albert Tindley; revived in 1946 as a protest song by black tobacco workers, and in 1963 during the black Civil Rights Campaign
- Western wind, when will thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!
‘Western Wind’ (published 1790) in New Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse (1991)
- We want eight, and we won't wait.
on the construction of Dreadnoughts
popular slogan, in Times 29 March 1909
- Quidquid agis, prudenter agas, et respice finem.
Whatever you do, do cautiously, and look to the end.
Gesta Romanorum no. 103
- What's hit is history, what's missed is mystery.
on the importance of securing a dead specimen of a new species
late 19th-century saying, in American Naturalist 1877
- Whenever God prepares evil for a man, He first damages his mind, with which he deliberates.
proverbially quoted in the form ‘Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad’
scholiastic annotation to Sophocles's Antigone l. 622
- When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty.
epigraph to Arthur Ponsonby's Falsehood in Wartime
(1928); attributed also to Hiram Johnson, speaking in the US Senate, 1918, but not recorded in his speech; see Johnson
- Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?
defending Mick Jagger after his arrest for cannabis possession
leader in Times
1 June 1967, written by William Rees-Mogg; see Pope
- Who dares wins.
motto of the British Special Air Service regiment, from 1942
- The whole is more than the sum of the parts.
traditional saying, probably deriving from Aristotle; see Aristotle
- Whose finger do you want on the trigger?
referring to the atom bomb
headline in Daily Mirror 21 September 1951
- A willing foe and sea room.
naval toast in the time of Nelson
W. N. T. Beckett A Few Naval Customs, Expressions, Traditions, and Superstitions (1931) ‘Customs’
- Winston is back.
on Churchill's reappointment as First Sea Lord
Board of Admiralty signal to the Fleet, 3 September 1939
- Winter of discontent.
- Arbeit macht frei.
words inscribed on the gates of Dachau concentration camp, 1933, and subsequently on those of Auschwitz
- The world is full of fools, and he who would not see it should live alone and smash his mirror.
adaptation from an original form attributed to Claude Le Petit (1640–65)
- Would you buy a used car from this man?
campaign slogan directed against Richard Nixon
- Yankee Doodle came to town
Riding on a pony;
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it Macaroni.
‘Yankee Doodle’ (song, 1755 or earlier); see Cohan
- Yet Zeus the all-seeing grants to Athene's prayer
That the wooden wall only shall not fall, but help you and your children.
words of the prophetess at Delphi to the Athenians, before the battle of Salamis in 480 bc
- You ain't no Muslim, bruv.
called by a bystander as a man attacked passengers after shouting ‘This is for Syria’
at Leytonstone Underground station, London, 5 December 2015, in Sunday Times 6 December 2015
- You can shed tears that she is gone or you can smile because she has lived.
preface to the Order of Service at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, 2002
- Il ne faut pas être plus royaliste que le roi.
You mustn't be more of a royalist than the king.
saying from the time of Louis XVI; François René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand De la monarchie selon la charte (1816) ch. 81
- You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk-dancing.
Arnold Bax (1883–1953), quoting ‘a sympathetic Scot’ in Farewell My Youth (1943)